I have just found my new favorite map of Shenzhen. Published in 2009 by the Bureau of Land Resource Use and Real Estate (深圳市国土资源和房产管理局), the map is not only large, but reads like a beautiful promissory note. Indeed the map promises that, “The Beautiful Shenzhen Will Have a Brighter Future.”
Said map includes the complete plan of the subway system, which is still under construction, proposed buildings, and as yet incomplete parks. Moreover, in the spirit of international goodwill, it includes the addresses of foreign consulates in Guangzhou, a map of the domestic and international flights from Shenzhen, business hours of the city’s various border crossings, and a list of rail connections to other cities. Indeed, its as if the map was designed to anticipate growth, much like a parent buys larger clothing for young children to grow into.
I’m not sure if the purpose of this map is to attract people to live in the city or facilitate their passage through on their way elsewhere. I do think, however, that the point is to eventually find oneself off the map. After all, we are walking forward into the not yet constructed, rather than heading toward the already built.