Love Your New City? Here’s How to Show It in Your Apartment with City-Specific Art

Nothing gives an apartment that officially-settled-in feel like a bit of art on the walls. It creates a sense of place and personality; it’s a way for you to express yourself. For that extra sense of place, and as a shout-out to the world outside your windows, stock up on art that reflects the scenes, people, and history of your neighborhood and city. Or if you are still just thinking about a move to the city of your dreams, pick up a local map to hang on your wall and inspire you to jump-start your plans.

At the intersection of typography and cartography, you’ll find Ork Posters, which bills its goods as “The most beautiful city neighborhood posters in the whole wide world.” There are more than twenty cities available, with each map showing the local neighborhoods labeled with cleverly-arranged type filling their respective boundaries.

city-specific art



There are two great options for paintings, quirky prints, and professional photos of your city. For classy, formal artwork, check out Fine Art America, where you’ll find artsy black-and-white photos, watercolor landscapes, and the like.

Rain in Manhattan Number 17 by Tate Hamilton

Rain in Manhattan Number 17 by Tate Hamilton

Or head to Etsy for funkier, more handmade options–think letterpress cards and sassy depictions of the city, like this portrait of famed Chicago Cubs radio announcer Harry Caray.

Vintage maps offer a history lesson and a bit of retro flair–plus, it’s fun to see the evolution of a city over the generations. Etsy also has a nice selection of reprints of old maps.

Image by

Image by

For history buffs looking for a DIY project, try finding some old news photos from your town and framing them yourself. Google has a dedicated archive of all the photos from LIFE magazine, that famous and important record of 20th Century, well, life. Once you’ve found a photo you like, you can either buy reprints or, if you prefer, track down the original magazines via sites like A Book Man, where less than $20 will get you an actual, illustrated piece of history.

In many big cities, daily life revolves around the transit system, and has for a good long time, long enough for there to be a large catalog of historic subway and bus maps, signs, and ads. Ward Maps sells reproductions of such items for many major American cities, and you can find even more via Google.

Image by Ward Maps, LLC.

Image by Ward Maps, LLC.

Okay, your walls are filled. You don’t need any more art. But if you still want to represent your new ‘hood–or, in frustrating times, chuck it across the room–Cafe Press has some city-specific throw pillows for you.

Image by Cafe Press

Image by Cafe Press

Or just wear it your pride on your sleeve–well, your chest, anyway, with Neighborhoodies. You can probably guess their signature item based on the name, but the company also offers an impressive line-up of t-shirts, hats, tote bags, and even aprons. You can personalize them with any text you like–it doesn’t have to be a place– But you’re encouraged to represent your own ‘hood with pride.

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Author My First Apartment

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Doug Mack is a writer based in Minneapolis and the author of the travel memoir Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide (Perigee Books/Penguin). He has lived in apartments large and small, historic and modern, in Minneapolis and Chicago. Visit his web site at or find him on Twitter @douglasmack.

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Comments (1)

  1. Avatar John Donovan

    Decorating your apartment with elements from your neighborhood can really add some charm! It also gives you a chance to get to know your new city. The goal is to find décor that is unique and represents your new city well.