The Cold War Era, Incredibly Accurate USSR Maps That Are Still Used By The US State Department

When USSR was falling apart in the late 1980s, a lot of Soviet military officers were selling top secret military pieces to the West. One of the most astonishing items being sold, were these extremely detailed maps.

The maps were made during the Cold War. Soviet agents mapped almost the entire world in such detail, that some parts of it were down to the level of individual buildings. To understand the difference between a domestic map that was being used at the time and a Soviet map, just look at the picture below:

Photo: Greg Miller; Aivars Beldavs/Jana Seta Map Shop

The map on the left is a tourist map of Tallinn, Estonia that was produced for the 1980 Olympics. The one on the right is a Soviet military map of the same area made in 1976. You don’t need to be a map expert to understand the detail and accuracy on the Soviet map. (the article continues after the ad)

The maps of the major US and European cities also have details such as the precise width of roads and the load-bearing capacity of bridges. Things that you need when planning a tank invasion and would be impossible to have without eyes on the ground.

Given the technology that was available at the time, the maps are incredibly accurate and some of them are used even today by the US State Department.

Check out the amazing pictures:

A 1980 Soviet map of San Francisco, California.

Photo: Kent Lee / East View Geospatial

A detail from a 1980 map of San Francisco showing the east end of Golden Gate Park

Photo: Kent Lee / East View Geospatial

A detail of a 1975 map showing the Pentagon

Photo: Kent Lee / East View Geospatial

A close-up of part of the Soviet map of New York City from 1982, with Lower Manhattan in the upper right corner. 

Photo: Kent Lee / East View Geospatial

A 1980 Soviet map of San Diego naval facilities (left) compared with a US Geological Survey map of the same area, from 1978.

Photo: Kent Lee / East View Geospatial

A Soviet map of Oakland and Alameda compared with the US Geological Survey map of West Oakland from 1981.

Photo: Kent Lee / East View Geospatial

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: This Is How A Mapmaker Messed Up Puerto Rico For Ever


Source: Wired
Photos: Wired
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie

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