After two years in the cartographic wilderness, Baltimore is getting back on the map.
A company called MAP Baltimore is producing an advertising-supported city map for free distribution to visitors, filling a two-year void in the city's tourism efforts.
Rhonda Owens-Smith, the Baltimore franchise holder for New Orleans-based MAP Inc., said MAP Baltimore would print 1 million copies of the pocket-sized city map to become available in May.
"The city does not have a product like this at this point," she said.
The venture is getting the enthusiastic support of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Maryland Office of Tourism, which would distribute the maps through mailings and at visitors centers.
In addition to the state and city tourism agencies, the map is be distributed by USAir at ticket offices in the 50 markets that generate the most flights to Baltimore, Ms. Owens-Smith said.
"This is something we've really badly needed," said Wayne Chappell, executive director of the convention bureau. "We were happy to see this company come in."
Mr. Chappell said he expected the map will also be given out by hotels and restaurants and that it would be included in the packet of information his agency provides to convention-goers.
He said the city has had no such free publication to distribute for the past two years, when Rand-McNally discontinued its city map program. Since then, the only map the convention bureau has had to give visitors was one in its Quick City Guide.
"It's a little cumbersome. Someone who just needs a map doesn't want a whole book," Mr. Chappell said.
Ms. Owens-Smith said the map, to be designed in San Francisco and printed in North Carolina, would include insets of Annapolis and Ellicott City, as well as information on local tourist attractions.
If her company can come to terms with the local merchants' associations, there might also be neighborhood maps of such shopping areas as Charles Street and Fells Point.
Ms. Owens-Smith said she became aware of MAP Inc. while working as marketing director for the New Orleans Fairgrounds, which advertised in that city's street map.
When she decided to move back to Baltimore, she secured a franchise from MAP Inc., which publishes maps for Nashville, Atlanta and San Francisco. Ms. Owens-Smith's territories also include Ocean City and Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, Va., she said.