"A New Look at Cuba" by Rachel Lee Harris You ve booked a flight from Miami and have your approved travel visa in hand. You re ready to see Cuba. Now what? Cue Stephan VanDam, a cartographer, graphic designer and president of the map company that bears his name. Though practical, his witty, origami-like physical maps and sleek 4-D interactive digital maps can also carve a historic or cultural path through a city (like his History Mapped presidential series). The company has now turned its attention to Cuba. Using his signature StreetSmart series design for printed maps (Internet connections are still scant in Cuba), Mr. VanDam points out Havana s restaurants, hotels, resorts and the home-based restaurants known as paladares and offers five self-guided tours that wind through the city s many plazas to contemporary galleries, music venues and gardens, along the Malecón coastal road and as far as the beaches of Playas de Este. As an amateur mambo dancer and Latin Jazz aficionado, Mr. VanDam has always had a fascination with Cuba and its connection to the Latin jazz scene in New York, he said on the phone from his office there. Musically, it's a world power. I remember my parents doing the mambo in the 1950s and their parents in the 30s. So the maps focus a lot on those aspects of Cuba s culture. It s also a treasure trove of architecture, he said. Cuba is totally cohesive in its urban fabric since there was no money after the revolution to replace buildings with modern structures. The company also has produced StreetSmart Cuba, which maps out the network of Spanish Colonial towns and Unesco World Heritage sites on country roads from west to east, and guides travelers through beach towns along the shores both north and south. The Havana map is $8.95, the Cuba map $9.95 --The New York Times, Travel
"In Cuba, Maps Make a Comeback" by Steve Heller Old-fashioned navigation is enjoying a renaissance on the island, where Internet access is still scant. When Stephan Van Dam began designing two detailed tourist maps of Cuba in 2014, he couldn't t have known that one year later, the prospect of renewed relations between the country and the U.S. could effectively create a whole new market for them. At the time Van Dam, the founder of VanDam s StreetSmart maps, was catering to a smaller audience: the Americans who could only visit the country if they were Cuban-American or embarking on a people-to-people tour run by a licensed guide, and the 1.1 million Canadians and hundreds of thousands of European travelers who visited last year. In 2015, the country offers jaded American travelers something different from the usual tourist trappings. According to Van Dam, the country is experiencing a brief moment free of advertising before global corporate luxe flattens the island. With highly legible cartography and engaging photographic covers, his StreetSmart Cuba and StreetSmart Havana maps highlight local business colorfully. They're guides to the latest hotels, resorts, restaurants and paladares (private family-run restaurants) that appeal to the pioneering tourist eager to experience the country before the inevitable onslaught of development. VanDam's StreetSmart Van Dam s Cuban maps culled their information from both federal data and his team s personal experience. The relief and terrain data come courtesy of the CIA; the cultural and urban information was provided by Havana s Office of the City Historian; the restaurant and paladares recommendations from his team s ground trothing and testing, as well as recommendations by Cubans and American friends.
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