Königsberg Counterfactual – with counterfactual Curonian Canal and counterfactual neighborhoods outside Kneiphof and Aldstadt.
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I created this during Dec 2017-Aug 2018.
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The map is 39 x 30 inches, colored pencil.

Jacob Shell 2018

These maps show pencilwork prior to color:

This counterfactual version of the city of Königsberg separated from the Hohenzollern Kingdom of Prussia around the 1850s, becoming a sovereign multilingual and multireligious state. The map shows the late 20th or early 21st century urban morphological result. At the very center of the map is the original, pre-19th century city, spatially organized around a small island (Kneiphof) at a river confluence (two branches of the Pregel River). Much of the rest of the map outside this core, including streets, highways, railroads, canals, wharves, and campus complexes, is my own fictitious extrapolation and projection.


The real Königsberg was an important center of the Enlightenment in the 18th century. Immanuel Kant spent his whole life there. Kneiphof Island and its configuration of bridges inspired the famous “seven bridge problem” formulated by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the city’s status waned, as it became a marginal eastern frontier city for the Prussian state and German Empire. The city was completely destroyed during WW2, and rebuilt by the USSR as Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad/Königsberg is unusual in the degree of erasure–both cultural and morphological–which it experienced. In addition to being razed, the city was rebuilt according to a different plan. This map-art project seeks to recover something which was lost in the past and reimagine it as incorporated into our own present.

Map of Königsberg in 1763:

Map of Königsberg in 1832, prior to counterfactual:

Map of Königsberg in 1860, just after counterfactual (railroads have different orientation):

Map of Königsberg in 1928:

Map of Kaliningrad circa 2015:

Below shows traced areas (mostly from 1860 map) vs. fictitious extrapolation.