True Lithuania

Lithuanian-American heritage map is published online

Do You imagine where in America the Mindaugas Castle is located? Where is the place Darius and Girėnas took off from? Where can you find memorials for Lithuanian freedom fighters, Lithuanian art museums, and a Lithuanian-themed guest house?

More than 300 Lithuanian-American sites have now been marked on an interactive online map, the first of such kind! It is accessible for free at http://map.truelithuania.com .

The map has been created by the “Destination – America” team, as a result of the September – October 2017 campaign across 11 northeastern USA states. During the journey, “Destination – America” have made over 8000 pictures of the Lithuanian sites there, collected their stories from some 200 locals, and marked their exact GPS coordinates. All this now makes the basis for the “Destination – America” map, government chancery funded the centenary of Lithuania.

 Interactive map „Destination America“

Interactive map „Destination America“

Lithuanian-American sites have astonished even the map team

The ambassador of Lithuania in the US Rolandas Kriščiūnas said that this interactive map is just what was needed to all the Lithuanians – not only to those who live in the US, but also the ones who travel to US from any other country. “As I live here in the US, I can see the footprint Lithuanians left here is just impressive – this can easily be seen by the amount of Lithuanian heritage. I strongly believe this interactive map will help everybody to find out more about these places and get a full impression of them”, Rolandas Kriščiūnas said.

 A chapel for those died for Lithuanian freedom glowing in the night at Kennebunk Lithuanian park which now attracts American tourists as well

A chapel for those died for Lithuanian freedom glowing in the night at Kennebunk Lithuanian park

The head of the “Destination – America” project Augustinas Žemaitis said that even the people who provided the stories of Lithuanian heritage for the “Destination – America” project often said they hope the map will be useful to them as well. “Although most of them know about the places in the cities they live, many have been pleasantly surprised to learn of such locations like a Lithuanian-named lake in the suburbs or even a Lithuanian coat of arms that is engraved on a downtown facade. To tell the truth, even though I have already been researching Lithuanian heritage for 5 years now, I was sometimes surprised by the magnitude of the Lithuanian places in America. We also “discovered” new sites that just never had been written about in accessible sources. At the beginning of the project, I hoped we could mark at least 100 sites, 150 at best. However, the reality appeared to be much more impressive and now our interactive map consists of more than 300 sites”, Augustinas Žemaitis said.

 The map of DESTINATION – AMERICA volunteer expedition

The map of DESTINATION – AMERICA volunteer expedition

Stories and images included

“Destination - America” map is not merely a list of places. By clicking on the markers you may also get the site descriptions and images. Under each image, a link appears to a longer story of the Lithuanian locations in the area, with much additional information, history, and images.

An exmaple of the interactive map of a locality

An exmaple of the interactive map of a locality

In addition to regular zooming, the map offers capabilities to select sub-maps by the state or the city, filter the sites by category and importance level, see the street views and more.

Lithuanian sites in “Destination – America” are grouped in four tiers. The higher the tier, the more important, interesting, visitor-accessible, and authentic the place is. There are 16 Lithuanian-related sites in the top tier, 105 in the second tier and 191 in the lower tiers.

 Lackawanna Coal Mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania, once the worksite for thousands of Lithuanians and now a tourist sight where their plight may be better understood by everybody

Lackawanna Coal Mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania, once the worksite for thousands of Lithuanians and now a tourist sight where their plight may be better understood by everybody

The top tier sites should garner interest well beyond Lithuanians and includes major museums, and impressive monuments. The second tier sites provide a great Lithuanian atmosphere and are also interesting as sights. In the lower tier sites, only traces of Lithuanity remain, yet the sheer abundance of them is also a great testament to the importance of Lithuanians in America.
Moreover, the Lithuanian sites are arranged into categories by their use (churches, cemeteries, graves of famous Lithuanians, clubs, Lithuanian placenames…).

In the future, the Lithuanian heritage map should be supplemented by the tourist routes that would allow combining Lithuanian heritage and regular sites of interest in your American journeys.

The main hall of the Baltimore Lithuanian Hall

The main hall of the Baltimore Lithuanian Hall

The interactive free map of the Lithuanian heritage in the USA is accessible here: Map of Lithuanian heritage in the USA.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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