Pacific Arena. A Fortune Map. Orthographic Series II
Harrison, Richard Edes
Date of Creation:
Centered on the North Pacific, the map shows the American Northwest, Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Australia. “Of all great arenas of this, the first true world war, the Pacific is the most difficult to conceive and visualize as a whole. That is because it is the vastest single strategic unit in which men have ever struggled for mastery or survival… as this orthographic, or global, map shows so clearly, the decisive lines of action lie entirely in the North. The prime fact to be remembered about the Pacific is that the shortest, most direct route between Tokyo and Seattle is the great circle that passes through Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. No man who had grasped the full significance of the geographical position of Dutch Harbour and Alaska would ever be guilty of describing enemy action in the Aleutians as “unimportant”.
By 1940, Americans had become so used to seeing the world mapped on the Mercator projection that any other method met with resistance, both in classrooms and living rooms. But as aviation displaced sea navigation in the twentieth century, Americans were sorely in need of maps that conveyed the new realities of distance and direction in the air age.