During a particularly slow day at the height of the recession in 2008, Fifty-Four Forty began in the architecture office where founder Greg Jones worked. After finishing some stair details in AutoCAD, with nothing left to do for the day, he began tracing around the topographic lines of a map of the state of Oregon. Thinking it would be interesting to fabricate a small-scale model with a laser cutter, he cut the layers of topography out, stacked and glued them together to create a three-dimensional representation of the state.
After producing this first iteration of the concept, the project went dormant for several years. It was reignited by the prospect of creating an expanded series of states that would form an interlocking topographic map of the continental United States. After spending countless hours tracing around USGS topographic maps and going through several versions of the designs, the maps were finally ready to share under the moniker "54X40." This name alludes to the historic rallying cry of "Fifty-four forty or fight!" that was heard during the 1840's conflict over the Oregon Territory's northern boundary with British North America (Canada).
The maps are laser-cut, assembled and finished by hand in Portland, OR. They are currently made in small batch orders with plans to expand to other geographic regions in the future.
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