Putting St. Johns on the Map

Vintage Maps
“A map is a symbolic depiction emphasizing relationships between elements of some space, such as objects, regions, or themes.” – Wikipedia

The St. Johns Boosters are creating a district map for the first time in 11 years.

When you ask people what is special about St. Johns, it’s hard to come up with one answer. One thing that we hear time and time again is that people who live here very rarely feel the need to leave, since everything that they want to see, experience, and buy is right here in our little “hamlet”. Uniquely positioned on the Peninsula, St. Johns is home to nature, biking trails, parks, modern amenities, buildings of historical interest, art enclaves, maker spaces, and an active downtown district centered around a public Plaza. Not to mention one of the most recognized sites in Portland, the St. Johns Bridge!

One great way to showcase all of our district’s assets to both residents and visitors is visually and with wayfinding. And what better marriage of the form and function than a beautifully designed map?

The Boosters received a grant to create a map in 2019 from Venture Portland but soon afterwards, we found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic. The project on hold for 2020 as there were so many unknowns about what businesses would still be here in the coming years. We hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. In 2021, the project was re-engaged with the addition of Jill Berry, a nationally known and published map artist who had relocated from Colorado to St. Johns just a few years ago. Her immediate connection to St. Johns as well as her very special art and map design skills made her a perfect choice as map designer.

Maps by Jill K. Berry Design

We ran a membership campaign in June 2021 inviting businesses to join or renew their memberships, and in addition, members were invited to add $25 for paper map listing to their order. There was also an option to be a sponsor by purchasing ad space on the map for $500. We were able to offer this through our newly redesigned website by Waterlink Web, which included an e-commerce option for the first time, allowing members to add to their “cart” both their membership dues and any add-ons like map placement and sponsorships.

Social Media graphic by Wayfinding Academy intern Karl Hayes

After so much conversion to digital in the past year, why a paper map and why now? “Paper maps have a long history and human connection in a way that digital ones don’t.” say committee co-chairs Liz Smith and Christine Longmuir. “We want people to find this map in airports, downtown or in St. Johns and pick it up because it’s beautiful, something they would put on their walls. And of course we hope it invites them to explore St. Johns.” Plus they believe that it can work in conjunction with digital maps. “The URL for our website will be on the map, where people can link to driving directions, see current members webpages and information, and find out everything that’s going on in St. Johns.”

As far as timing, St. Johns is getting ready for a year-long street construction project called the North Lombard Main Street Repair Project, which will remove all of the rails from the old streetcars from the main corridor of Lombard Street. It is a necessary but disruptive event to happen to a business district just emerging from a year COVID-19 restrictions. “Finding ways to get around the district and continue to support local business during construction will be more important now than ever.”

The Boosters are excited about the Frog Ferry project that is in works and see another map placement opportunity at the Cathedral Park dock.

As people are starting to go out more, having a paper map available makes sense right now. It’s a connector and a conversation starter. It reminds us of our history, our connection to the land and each other, and creates pathways to discovery. Plus, who doesn’t love to see their name in print?

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