In honor of Jerusalem Day, the Eran Laor Cartographic Collection invites us to take a look at the maps that defined the city prior to its reunification.
For nineteen years, the city of Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. In this period, maps of the city looked starkly different, from what we know today. A glance at tourist maps, commercial maps, and even newspaper maps published on both sides of the border reveals the extent of these differences.
“Deadzone” – What lies beyond the border?
Within every map, there is always some kind of abstraction or filtering of certain details, in accordance with the information that the mapmaker wished (or was required) to convey to the target audience. This holds especially true for tourism maps which, by their nature, are selective in content and not necessarily committed to exact detail or scale.
This is how the boundaries of a mapping area are determined. Any area that is not relevant to the map’s intention is usually described, if at all, in simple and concise terminology. We can see this play out in the maps of divided Jerusalem. In most of these maps, there is no indication as to what lies beyond the border. There is only a “deadzone” designated by a single uniform color, omitting any details of roads or structures. In some cases, sparse annotations contain details such as armistice lines, demilitarized zones, transit gates, and no-man’s land.
It is interesting to see where the Israeli and Jordanian maps contradict each other, as well as where the maps agree. Each of them presents a different side of the city, with the divide running between them.
A fascinating example of this is a Jordanian tourist map dating back to 1964. In it we can see how the technical elements of the cartography, such as the use of colors, help to express a geopolitical reality. The “occupied territory of Jerusalem” is marked on the periphery of the map in red, no-man’s land in grey, and the demilitarized zone on Mt. Scopus in purple.
With fifty years of hindsight at our backs, examining these maps can create a sense of illusion and disorientation.
An Israeli tourist map of West Jerusalem from the late 1950s oriented the map with east at the top, instead of a standard north orientation.
On the other hand, in a Jordanian tourist map from the late 1960s, the Holy Land seems to have borders and aspects that radically contradict the Israeli definition.
In other maps, both sides of the city are presented in detail, with the boundary line highlighted in the middle. These maps were designed to present tourists with a full picture of the city, but adapted to the new political realities created following the cease-fire in November, 1948.
A pictorial map of Jerusalem, issued by Steimatzky in 1955, was printed with the dividing line crossing Jerusalem. This was not a new map of Jerusalem, but a re-publication of a map that was first published about a decade earlier.
A Jordanian tourist map that was published in Jerusalem in 1952 also shows the entire city of Jerusalem, with the borderline crossing it. It features demilitarized zones marked as “UN-controlled territories,” as well as “Jewish-controlled territory,” and “No-Man’s Land,” respectively.
Lastly, a special map was printed for Jeruslamite Ma’ariv readers in honor of the second memorial day marking the battles for the city on May 14th, 1950. The map was found on the back page, showing the city, its holy sites, main roads, and the borderline.
Find more fascinating historical maps by visiting the the Eran Laor Cartographic Collection website.
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