Friday, December 8, 2017

Halifax Explosion

100 years ago Halifax, Nova Scotia suffered a horrific explosion that killed about 2,000 people, injured many more and destroyed much of the city. Windows 50 miles away were shattered.
Two ships collided, one carrying explosives that were meant to go to France during World War I. The ship with the explosives caught fire and drifted towards the city. As people watched the burning ship it exploded, instantly killing almost 2,000 people. The explosion resulted in a Tsumani that killed even more people and wiped out a Mi'qmak First Nation community in Dartmouth.

The Halifax Herald put together this remarkable graphic showing the destroyed buildings in great detail, UPDATE: No it didn't - see below
as well as a timeline of events.
Pretty amazing to have produced this map on such notice and under such trying conditions - that was my original text. It turns out this was a recreation by Snodgrass Design. Fooled again!

More on the explosion can be found on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Paris Election Map, 1869

Cartographers have been trying to figure out how to best show election maps for a long time. Here in the United States, the typical county map can badly represent vote totals when large counties with tiny populations dominate the map. In 1860's Paris, a cartographer named Louis Montigny used this interesting approach to map the city's neighborhoods.
A square centimeter represents 1000 votes, with the political parties color coded. This clearly shows who won each neighborhood but also gives a great picture of how well each party performed. Yellow represents the governing party of Napoleon III, while opposition parties are colored blue, pink and red. Socialists are orange. Viewing the entire city, there are some pretty clear patterns of strength and weaknesses of the different parties.
As you approach the city's edge, the larger, less populated neighborhoods get the appropriate level of visual prominence.
I discovered this map on Cartographia, a blog has been inactive for many years. The blog post illustrates the historical importance of this map as it shows the beginning of the decline of Napoleon III's empire. His party was clearly losing popular support as shown by the absence of yellow on much of this map. Shortly after this election he began a war with Prussia in order to boost his legitimacy. The Franco-Prussian War was a disaster for France and spelled the end of the Second Empire. A detailed history can be found on the blog post.

See a large, high resolution version of the map here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vancouver Neighborhoods as Simpsons Characters

The following tweet from a Vancouver radio station woud benefit from a map so I made one.

I don't know many of these neighborhoods and this may not be an original idea but I like it. I made the assumption that "West Van" is the municipality of West Vancouver, not the west side of the city. Upon further research it looks like the west side is called "Vancouver West" so I guess it's OK.

Interesting that no actual Simpsons show up in this tweet-that's some deep character mining!

The base map is from OpenStreetMap - I "artified" it a bit and lightened up the colors so the characters show up better. Unfortunately some of them came out pretty light. With more time I could make them pop a little more but I'm having a busy week. Another problem is the need to zoom way out to accommodate the eastern suburbs. Here is another version focused on the main parts of the city-because I want to see for myself what it looks like.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Number 2 Cartography Blog

Last week I got an email from the founder of Feedspot saying that "Map of the Week" has been selected as one of the Top 40 Cartography Blogs on the web.
My first thought was to wonder if there are there even 40 cartography blogs to choose from - and it turns out they only list 33. The next question is did they rank them? Yes they do and this blog you are reading is number 2! Exciting! Also a little strange. Here is their ranking system.
These blogs are ranked based on following criteria
  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review
Many of the blogs ranked lower have significantly more readers, followers and Google search rankings. Therefore much of this must be based on the non-numeric items (editorial team, quality and consistency) in which case I fell quite honored!

Number one on the list is the Cartographers Guild.  Congrats to them and well deserved too. Their specialty is maps of fictional places (Westeros, Middle Earth, etc) but all other types of maps appear. As a forum for mapmakers there are valuable insights on how the maps were created.

I'm not going to review the whole list but there are some notable omissions such as Strange Maps, Maps Mania, and National Geographic's All Over the Map - all of which are more widely read and probably better researched than this blog! Anyway here is my badge. I'd wear it but it's only a jpeg.

For the complete list click here

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

New Hobby

Anyone who reads this on a regular basis can probably tell that I have a fondness for hand drawn maps. However, I haven't made any myself since I was a child making up imaginary places. Even in my pre-computer carreer, we used special drafting equipment (a subject for another time) to make maps. I recently began trying my hand at making maps with colored pencils. Back in the old days we would trace over US Geological Survey maps on a light table. These maps are not traced but drawn freehand after carefully looking at some DeLorme atlases.
Burlington, Vermont-Doug Greenfield, 2017
Above is a map of Burlington, Vermont, a city I have spent a fair amount of time in and know the landscape of well. I used a similar color scheme to the DeLorme atlas and was pleased with the level of accuracy. Not every street is shown, just enough to give an idea of the street pattern.

Next, I tried Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a city that I've only driven through the edges of but one with an interesting settlement pattern.
Williamsport, Pennsylvania-Doug Greenfield, 2017
This was more of a challenge as I am much less familiar with the area. The map got gradually less accurate and more impressionistic the further I dug into it. It was liberating when I gave up on the idea of trying to be too accurate.

I don't have a new project yet but I hope to continue in a more impressionistic direction and to find a different map source to add some variety of looks and scales.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Baltic Sea Traffic

This is gorgeous and mesmerizing. That is all. Have a good day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Water: An Atlas

Guerilla Cartography is an organization that uses creative and artistic mapmaking to foster collaborative knowledge and promote cooperative ideas towards today's major problems. They created an excellent food atlas. Their second one, Water: An Atlas is being printed and should be ready to ship by the end of November. You can pre-order a copy here. They were nice enough to send me some sample pages. Here are a few details from some of the maps.
The map above is from a page titled "Water Availability for Food Security in African Cities" It looks at the challenges of a rapidly growing and urbanizing continent. City dots are sized by population and major cities have an outer circle divided into three colored sections indicating whether water and wastewater are separated and whether the city has a master plan for managing each.

There is also a diagram of the water cycle and a graph running diagonally down the page showing the availability of improved water (dark blue) wastewater treated (gray) and water consumption (the bars underneath) in daily liters per person.
Here is a small version of the page to show how these graphics fit together.

Another map was a commission from the Scotland Environmental Arts Festival by Andrew McAvoy showing the area with a focus on the water courses.
The hand drawn map is presented at three different scales. Above is the larger Southern Uplands region, while below is a detail around Morton Castle, the festival site with suggested exploring routes.
More maps and photos from the festival can be seen here.

Finally, "Pink Salt Lakes" maps out water bodies that are colored pink due to two types of reddish algae.
The map has a kind of checkerboard pattern with pictures of some of the lakes interspersed. Below is a picture from California's South Bay Salt Ponds-I once flew over these and wondered why they looked so weird.
Australia has many pink lakes including one named Pink Lake.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

More Mario Zucca Illustrations

Self-made thousandaire (his own words) Mario Zucca, creator of the National Parks map also has a series of great city maps, including Kansas City,
and Cleveland (University Circle Area).
There are also maps of Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Atlantic City, Minneapolis and a map of Denver's bicycle loop - see the portfolio on his web page for these.

The Philly Island Map shows the"Strait of Disinterest" that exists between the city and the rest of Pennsylvania-a popular sentiment among Philly folks.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Our National Parks

Illustrator Mario Zucca has created this gorgeous hand drawn map of America's National Parks.
Some detailed images below.
There's also a cute animation panning through the map. Here's a sample.
You can show your passion for our parks by purchasing a copy here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ancient Maps on Globes

The DX Lab out of the  State Library of New South Wales in Australia is experimenting with placing 17th and 18th Century maps from their collection onto globes.
The map above is a 1706 world map by Portuguese cartographer Joseph Da Costa e Miranda. Below the map is "unprojected" onto a globe that you can watch in motion here - it may not work on all web browsers.
The experiment, called Meridian, reverses the typical paper map process. Instead of projecting the globe onto a flat surface, these maps are "unprojected" from paper, back onto the globe. Here it is in motion:
This was done manually which sounds painful. Here's a description from the making page.
We didn’t have access to map projection software, so I manually distorted the image by eye, gradually vertically squashing the image more and more as it got closer to the top and bottom.
They have also worked on a globe by Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, who created a series of copper engravings of globe gores as seen below.
 With this result. Click to see in detail.
The lab is expecting to add more globes shortly. You can read about the process here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Happiest Places

The November issue of National Geographic's cover story is about the happiest places in the world. There is a two page spread showing happiness measures for all countries where data is available.
The map* uses a type of Chernoff face to show three variables; size reflects overall satisfaction with life, the degree of smiling shows people's daily happiness and the color represents health. Some patterns that emerge are that countries in North America and northern Europe have a high degree of happiness but only moderate health. Many countries in Central and South America have better health scores but slightly lower overall satisfaction with life (the faces are a bit smaller.) Eastern Europe and central Asia and much of Africa (but not all) score poorly in all categories.

*this is more of a cartogram-like chart than a map and the not all countries fit into their ideal locations so some are hard to find.

Clearly much is this is subjective on many levels and subject to debate. What I find more dubious is their assessment of urban areas within the United States. Here's a detail from the map of the most happy metropolitan areas.
These places are mostly either college towns or places that are unaffordable to anyone of a modest income (or both)-this creates a sense of exclusivity and males me wonder if these surveys show an accurate cross section of the population.

The magazine also has some interactive graphics showing the metropolitan areas-here is a screen shot from a chart of happiness. Although most of the highest ranked places are expensive, there are exceptions such as Des Moines.
There is also a Chernoff face treatment for the 50 states, though this one only measures one variable-the well being score.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Where the Animals Go

Where the Animals Go is a new book by cartographer James Cheshire and graphic artist Oliver Uberti. It highlights the use of technology to track animal behavior illustrated with some beautiful maps and charts. A quote from the book's website gives a nice look into it contents.
These astonishing infographics explain how warblers detect incoming storms using sonic vibrations, how baboons make decisions, and why storks prefer garbage dumps to wild forage; they follow pythons racing through the Everglades, a lovelorn wolf traversing the Alps, and humpback whales visiting undersea mountains.
This is a detail from a map showing the tracks of Elephant Seals equipped with temperature and salinity sensors. They dive deep down into the water, making them great candidates for getting these measurements at various ocean depths.
Here are GPS tracks from 25 baboons near the Mpala Research Center in Kenya. The "sleeping tree" was used when there was a leopard on the prowl.
This one details how warblers fled areas of the southeastern United States in advance of a series of tornadoes. They fled a couple of days ahead of time, meaning that they were able to detect the storms well before our normal weather sensors could.

For more information, including where to buy the book, see the book's web page.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

D.C. Water Atlas

This atlas shows the development of Washington D.C.'s water system.

Here is a quote from the atlas page on Dumbarton Oaks, the project's host institution.
As in so many other cities, water is everywhere in Washington, D.C.—and yet it remains largely invisible to most of us, taken for granted or ignored. But D.C.’s waterways and plumbing shape the civic, social, and even commercial lives of its residents just as much now as in the past: the Anacostia, the Potomac, the C&O Canal, Rock Creek. And the crisis in Flint, Michigan, has shown that the questions of where and how cities find their water have tremendous importance for public health, down to the last pipe.  
Unlike many modern web maps, this one is refreshingly free of the usual over-reliance on interactivity. Most of the maps are a simple click or two away. The menu at the top shows the options.
You can also hover over different areas on the main map to get these options.
After choosing an option, there are sub-maps that can be chosen such as this one for the City Canal.
These sub-maps are simple (not interactive) maps with an information panel in the upper left and the year depicted shown at the bottom. The author, John Dean Davis, scanned a series of historical maps and overlaid them onto the modern city. He included some nice details such as the campus of Dumbarton Oaks.
I'm not sure I would have chosen the blueprint color scheme for these maps. Some of the information is a hard to read but it does make for a nice effect and ties the maps together visually.

To explore this further go to the online atlas.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Landmarks of London

British artist and photographer Martin Thompson has created Landmarks of London.
The Thames River runs as if it were a straight line through the middle and occupying much of the drawing. The main details are the bridges. They are turned sideways so you see the details as you would approaching from a boat. This creates a strange disorienting effect if you look closely, especially when looking at the waves around the bridge supports and the connections to the riverbanks. The landmarks seem to be an aside-literally. They are also turned sideways so they pop out from the river in each direction. Here is a detailed section.
This work does not appear to be for sale yet and there are not any higher resolution versions on his page. However Ollie O'Brien has some nice higher resolution details on the Mapping London blog, as well as a more detailed write up. This one is turned sideways and shows some of the newer, goofily named buildings.
-via Mapping London

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Prisons of New Jersey

In 1955 the American Prison Association held its conference in Atlantic City. A map of New Jersey's highlights titled New Jersey Invites You to Come and See it All was created to welcome guests.
These highlights were mostly prisons in their eyes. For example, the nearby Prison Farm at Leesburg.
Sure, there are other things to see in New Jersey like some statue of liberty but check out the Rahway Reformatory.
Washington crossed the Delaware, there's a world-class university but the Trenton Home for Girls is really something!
High Point is one of the few places highlighted that sounds like a nice place for the spouse to visit while you're at the conference.   
Even the roads look imprisoning with the light posts evoking watch towers or fences.
Nothing much to see in this area-except for the Camden County Workhouse.
You can browse the entire map on the Rutgers Mapmaker web site.