I can remember wanting more detail about the Emerald City when I was a kid and there was very little to go on. Yes, it was lovely, marble everywhere, set with emeralds and chased in gold . . . blah, blah, blah . . . Give me details!
One place I could find details was in Neill's artwork. Good examples were Neill's drawings of the walls and gates in The Marvelous Land of Oz and the intricate drawings of the Emerald City architecture in The Road to Oz. And finally, the pièce de résistance, the lovely double page drawing of the Emerald City in John R. Neill's The Wonder City of Oz.
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And of course The Wonder City of Oz is none other than the Emerald City, and finally we have a book featuring a vast amount of detail on Emerald City architecture and some clear indication of the city's layout. I really do love Neill's design of the Emerald City. It is charming, lovely, and funny all at the same time! It is also a very intelligent design with the wide concentric boulevards circling the palace in the center of the city and the wide avenues radiating outward from the palace like bicycle spokes. It seems very appropriate that the design of the capital city of the American fairyland should in many ways echo the L'Enfant/Banneker aesthetics of our own capital, Washington, DC.
The image above shows the city from the north side. Strawberry Street runs pretty much directly north from Ozma's palace to the north gate of the Emerald City. Most interestingly, in the same book Neill gives us another double-page illustration looking north from Ozma's palace up Strawberry Street toward the Gillikin hills in the far distance.
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Comparing the architecture in the two drawings it is pretty clear Neill had diagrammed the city and palace to some extent. I truly wish his design sketches would turn up!
I noticed one other detail showing how thoroughly Neill seems to have envisioned the city. In The Road to Oz (1909) Neill drew a lovely and detailed picture of Dorothy being welcomed by Jellia Jamb on an elaborate curving staircase leading up to Ozma's palace. You can actually see the staircase drawn into the big city-scape above that was drawn for Wonder City of Oz thirty-one years later as you can see in the image comparison below. Jellia and Dorothy's positions are noted by green dots in the latter image.
|EC stairway in ROAD (1909) and same stairway in WONDER CITY (1940).
One thing I am not totally sold on is that the city is itself alive, each house having a personality of its own and limited mobility. It's not so much a bad thing as much as it has never been that way in the past. There is certainly some justification for it as even W. W. Denslow in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz anthropomorphized Oz architecture. And Neill continued that tradition in his portrayal of the domed Oz houses with the dual "stick-em up!" chimneys. Wonder City just takes it to an extreme. Do you really want a house that bickers with you? It's not unlike Living Island on Pufnstuf.
Another thing I have trouble with is the names Neill gave to the city streets. Banana Boulevard, Strawberry Street, Celery Street, Pudding Place, etc. It just doesn't seem to fit the Emerald City. Why should everything be named after food? Why not named after important Oz characters? I'd much prefer Pastoria Boulevard to Pudding Place. Or named after shades of green: I'd prefer Chartreuse Court to Celery Street. Neill's street names just feel arbitrary and a bit twee.
But to continue . . . I suspect the lovely city-scape drawing from Wonder City proved popular with the kids, or the publisher, or Neill himself, as he reworked it by adding a night sky and using it as the pictorial endpapers for The Scalawagons of Oz.
And further on in Scalawagons we find two maps! One of which provides the first ever actual map of the Emerald City. Showing Banana Boulevard and Strawberry Street, this map is clearly following the design of the city as laid out in Wonder City the year before.
As you can see, this map shows Ozma's Castle with a wall or road around it, and it shows Strawberry Street, the main thoroughfare leading to the north-wall gate to the Gillikin Country. It also shows Banana Boulevard, the major circular thoroughfare in the city, and it shows Jenny's Turnstyle Shop.
There are some problems with this map. The outer wall surrounding the entire city seems to be missing. Did Neill simply fail to draw it in? A logical place to add the wall would be to start at the point where Strawberry Street becomes Peanut Pike and draw a large concentric circle around the city.
|Revision showing addition of the outer wall of the Emerald City.
But this solution raises problems. It puts the city wall directly through Pumpkin Park. Jenny's Turnstyle Shop is in the middle of a block, not on a corner of Banana Boulevard and Strawberry Street as explicitly stated in Wonder City. And the Yellow Road from the Winkie County extends a good way into the city which it should not do. It should end at the city gate.
As a reminder, Pumpkin Park is not Jack Pumpkinhead's pumpkin-shell home in the Winkie County. Pumpkin Park is where Jack lives inside an Ozoplane, his Emerald City (or near-Emerald City) pied-à-terre. Whether Pumpkin Park is inside or outside the city wall is unclear in the text, but I'm sure the city wall doesn't run through it.
A different solution would be to assume Neill accidentally labeled the outer wall as Banana Boulevard. If the map's Banana Boulevard becomes the outer city wall, then Banana Boulevard would have to move closer to Ozma's Castle, and so Jenny's shop becomes more correctly placed. This puts Pumpkin Park outside the city and the Yellow Road ends at the city wall as it should. This solution makes the most sense to me and solves the majority of problems with the map.
|Revision showing Neill's outer circle as the city wall with a new Banana Blvd.
Scalawagons features a second full page map, too.
Glinda's castle seems much too close to the Emerald City, and the position of the "hump" of the Mifkits territory has been adjusted further to the right than it seems to be on the main Oz map. Thus this is an assortment of accurate locales condensed together to show the action of the story in the space allotted. Despite the detail shown in the Emerald City, in many ways these are not true "maps" but diagrams showing the action of the story.
Note, too, that Neill follows the Thompson era compass directions where the Munchkins are west and the Winkies are east. Even though I feel these maps function more like diagrams than actual maps, it does seem like Neill's Oz is a much smaller place than the Baum/Thompson Oz. Neill's Oz almost feels like a gigantic theme park!
In the 1950s, Oz scholar Robert R. Pattrick began merging all of the details from the Oz series and Neill's drawings into a map of the Emerald City. He died in 1960 before completing his map. But Judy Pike took on the project and next week we will look at the Pattrick/Pike map of the Emerald City.
Click here for the next Oz Map blog post.