Hand-cut paper street maps of world cities


Artist Karen O'Leary of North Carolina cuts paper by hand to create these stunning street maps of world cities. Above, her rendition of New York City. Here's her Etsy store. Blog coverage: The Best Part, Paper Tastebuds, infosthetics (via @stevenleckart)

Update: Looks like The Jailbreak was the first blog to cover this, and they have an interview with the artist in an update post.


  1. re: blog coverage, think it was first on thejailbreak blog, there’s also an interview with her about the newer pen and paper paris there too.

  2. Reminds me of the beautiful Sanborn insurance maps – made for every city from the 1880’s through to the 1960’s. Extraordinarily rich in neighborhood detail: at a scale of 50 feet to an inch, every house shows up. Notes include comments on whether a machine shop has sprinklers, watchmen, or coal heat. A typical map was 3 x 2 feet and covered just a few blocks of a city.

    If your home was built before 1950, most likely it appears on a Sanborn map.

    The cool thing about the old Sanborn maps, however, is how they were updated … every few years, Sanborn would mail a set of patches to be pasted over a part of a map. So my city map has a dozen layers, with library paste holding them together. Like a kindergarten art album, except with colored block for buildings.

    For a sample, see:

  3. Her maps are beautiful. Given the amount of time and care taken on them, the price is very reasonable.

    I know I’m going to get blasted for this, but this is exactly the sort of product a laser or water cutter would work well for. Look for Chinese knockoffs to appear in urban counterfeiters next year…

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