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A Map of California for the Blind

Braille Map of California (header)
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California’s outline is easily recognizable to most of its inhabitants. Our eyes have traced it on countless maps since at least our fourth-grade California history class. But how is the state’s geography represented for those who cannot see?

How is the state’s geography represented for those who cannot see?

This Braille map, furnished by map curator Chris Salvano of the California State University, Northridge, Geography Department Map Library, augments the state’s familiar silhouette with Braille identifiers for its geographic distinctions. Though understanding Braille isn’t required in order to grasp this map, it does force us to consider it from a unique perspective.

Fittingly, The Braille Institute of America is located within the state's borders, its headquarters spanning an entire city block at 741 North Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles. It was founded in 1919 by J. Robert Atkinson and has continued to expand ever since – unlike California's boundaries, which have remain fixed.

Braille Map of California
A Braille map of California, courtesy of the California State University, Northridge, Department of Geography
Braille Map of California (Index)
The index to the above map, courtesy of the California State University, Northridge, Department of Geography

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A coloring page created by the Los Angeles Public Library's Octavia Lab. An illustration of Manuela C. García sitting next to a phonograph. Behind her is a faint sheet music background.

Manuela C. García, the Voice Behind a Treasure Trove of Old Mexican Songs

Born in Los Angeles in the late 1860s, Manuela C. García is the voice behind over 100 songs in Charles Lummis' recordings of Southwest musical heritage. Known mostly by historians specializing in 19th-century Mexican American music, her voice connects California's present musical history with its past.
 Charles Alston (left) and Hale Woodruff at Beckwourth Pass

How Two African American Artists Explored the Roots of Racism on the West Coast

When Golden State Mutual Life Insurance commissioned artists Charles Alston and Hale Woodruff to design a home office building, the duo traveled across California to retrace the steps of the region's Black explorers, settlers and leaders. Their mission? To design a headquarters for GSM that looked to California's future and recovered an erased Black past.
An image of the French district in downtown Los Angeles. The image shows Aliso Street in downtown Los Angeles, California, with signs labeling buildings "Griffins Transfer and Storage Co." and "Cafe des Alpes" next to "Eden Hotel," which are located on opposite corners of Aliso and Alameda Streets. A Pacific Electric streetcar sign reads "Sierra Madre" and automobiles and horse-drawn wagons are seen in the dirt road.

What Cinco de Mayo Has to do with the French in Early L.A.

Cinco de Mayo is often celebrated wrongly as Mexican Independence Day, but a dig into the historical landscape of Los Angeles in the early 19th century reveals a complex relationship of French émigrés with a Mexican Los Angeles.