Chico, California: Isometric Street Atlas

Each green place marker on the Google Earth screenshot above represents one page of a 40-page street atlas of Chico, California I'm developing this summer. (Ahem: Starting to develop.)

Why Chico? Well, why not? This is where I am going to be for the rest of my days as an American citizen. I owe it to a couple of lost emergency-service personnel sometime in 2028 to make sure a few hundred actual maps of this place survive (laminated, durable, and coil-bound) a future that looks grim sometimes, even from out on a bike in this still-well-watered agricultural/university bubble 90 miles up the delta breeze from Sacramento...

So here's the plan... I'm compiling a basic line drawing at an isometric angle to the horizon, each plate zoomed in to a couple thousand feet facing roughly northeast (depending on which way the street grid needs to be oriented to make an orderly frame), and will in the end have at least 40 plates in the book, with a fronistpiece (probably the cover itself, on hard laminate) that divides it all up subtly in semitransparent frames. If this gets too heavy, I'll just go by the names.

Every plate has a name based on the principle road, historical neighborhood name, or landmark closest to its center. Most will be named after roads: Meyer. Pine. Shasta. Eaton. The central area will be a four-page centerpiece: Mangrove, Enloe, CSU, Plaza, Ivy.

The atlas will be sized and designed to be propped expeditiously and conveniently on the passenger seats or dashboards of delivery vans; ambulances; fire crews; service vans to the elderly...


The Bidwells left behind a delightful, compact, still-intact downtown nestled against the shores of a creek that bears their name, and the gigantic public park where the first Robin Hood film was shot in 1930s. The entire central city is crisscrossed by unnamed alleyways - some densely grown in with weeds, some piled up with trash, some paved and noted one-way, many hooked up to the backs of commercial complexes. Many are gorgeous little Kansas postcards of benign neglect and tall trees.

The city has exploded in the past 25 years with new developments, some great, others rather stingy on parks. But most of the newer parts of the city have very good, very long bike trails that connect the outer areas very effectively with the inner area between Big and Little Chico Creeks, west of the 99.

Bicycle shortcuts are built into all corners of this city. They are not visible on Google. I'm riding them all with a GPS in my pocket. I collect them like some guys collect sports cards.

The other main goal at this point is to provide a clearly visible skeleton map of the paved, vehicle-accessible lanes of every apartment complex, hospital, retail zone, etc.


Mapa Jeff has been making and publishing maps of the western central Pacific resorts of Mexico for over 12 years.

Not too surprisingly, the summer backstreets around an American town can yield up almost as many secrets and untold names of things as any place in Mexico.

I may or may not ever complete this thing, and it's possible like 60 people will ever see it in my lifetime. (Compared to the literally thousands who have already bought my Mexico maps).
But if one single person's ass gets saved out on a forgotten (by all the best minds of Silicon Valley) alleyway in my toasty, wistful California nut town, I'll drink a toast in heaven anyway.