When you’re talking about the fourteenth century, cosmography is the science of mapping the universe — in other words, early attempts to describe both the known world and what lies outside it.  When much-revered writer/designer/futurist Buckminster Fuller used the term at the title for his final book, he was talking about the structures that underlay our politics, history, physics, economics, society, chemistry… and pretty much everything else. (He was a man of many interests.)

So, then, what might an introduction to Baltimore’s urban cosmography look like?  As presented by Jeremy Kargon, an architect and professor at Morgan State, it’ll probably involve a look at maps and charts — some of them very old — as a way to understand how Baltimore has come to be organized the way it is.  How did early Baltimoreans conceive of “urban planning”? How did political culture from a hundred years ago shape the streetscape we know today? To chart the contours of our world, we have to understand the historical norms and transformations; urban cosmology — a brand new concept, as far as our googlings show — might be the place to start.

Kargon speaks at Johns Hopkins’s Gilman Hall tonight (Wednesday, December 14) from 7 – 9 PM. The event is free and open to the public.