kottke.org posts about maps
Great piece about The Knowledge, the collection of geographical information that all London taxi drivers must learn before becoming a cabbie.
The guidebook issued to prospective cabbies by London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH), which oversees the test, summarizes the task like this:
To achieve the required standard to be licensed as an "All London" taxi driver you will need a thorough knowledge, primarily, of the area within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. You will need to know: all the streets; housing estates; parks and open spaces; government offices and departments; financial and commercial centres; diplomatic premises; town halls; registry offices; hospitals; places of worship; sports stadiums and leisure centres; airline offices; stations; hotels; clubs; theatres; cinemas; museums; art galleries; schools; colleges and universities; police stations and headquarters buildings; civil, criminal and coroner's courts; prisons; and places of interest to tourists. In fact, anywhere a taxi passenger might ask to be taken.
If anything, this description understates the case. The six-mile radius from Charing Cross, the putative center-point of London marked by an equestrian statue of King Charles I, takes in some 25,000 streets. London cabbies need to know all of those streets, and how to drive them -- the direction they run, which are one-way, which are dead ends, where to enter and exit traffic circles, and so on. But cabbies also need to know everything on the streets. Examiners may ask a would-be cabby to identify the location of any restaurant in London. Any pub, any shop, any landmark, no matter how small or obscure -- all are fair game. Test-takers have been asked to name the whereabouts of flower stands, of laundromats, of commemorative plaques. One taxi driver told me that he was asked the location of a statue, just a foot tall, depicting two mice sharing a piece of cheese. It's on the facade of a building in Philpot Lane, on the corner of Eastcheap, not far from London Bridge.
The goal is to install a complete map of London in the brain of every licensed taxi driver. And indeed, according to neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire, the part of the brain responsible for memory becomes physically bigger as The Knowledge is absorbed.
Seeing, for a Knowledge candidate, is everything -- at its heart, the Knowledge is an elaborate exercise in visualization. When McCabe called-over, he closed his eyes and toggled between views: picturing the city at street level, the roads rolling out in front of him as if in a movie, then pulling the camera back to take in the bird's eye perspective, scanning the London map. Knowledge boys speak of a Eureka moment when, after months or years of doggedly assembling the London puzzle, the fuzziness recedes and the city snaps into focus, the great morass of streets suddenly appearing as an intelligible whole. McCabe was startled not just by that macroview, but by the minute details he was able to retain. "I can pull a tiny little art studio just from the color of the door, and where it's got a lamppost outside. Your brain just remembers silly things, you know?"
I could go on and on...I loved this piece. Don't miss the video of a prospective cabbie calling out the route he would use to go from Rotherhithe Station to the Natural History Museum, entirely from memory without looking at a map. Compare with Google's driving directions.
Update: View From the Mirror is a blog written by a London cabbie, which includes his experience training for The Knowledge. (thx, bryan)
From Michael Benson comes Cosmigraphics, a survey of many ways in which humans have represented the Universe, from antiquity on up to the present day.
Selecting artful and profound illustrations and maps, many hidden away in the world's great science libraries and virtually unknown today, he chronicles more than 1,000 years of humanity's ever-expanding understanding of the size and shape of space itself. He shows how the invention of the telescope inspired visions of unimaginably distant places and explains why today we turn to supercomputer simulations to reveal deeper truths about space-time.
The NY Times has an adaptation of the introduction to the book.
Among the narrative threads woven into the book are the 18th-century visual meditations on the possible design of the Milky Way - including the astonishing work of the undeservedly obscure English astronomer Thomas Wright, who in 1750 reasoned his way to (and illustrated) the flattened-disk form of our galaxy. In a book stuffed with exquisite mezzotint plates, Wright also conceived of another revolutionary concept: a multigalaxy cosmos. All of this a quarter-century before the American Revolution, at a time when the Milky Way was thought to constitute the entirety of the universe.
Like it says on the tin: a collection of Beautiful Maps. I wish there was some attribution attached to each map though. The map above is by Claude Bernou circa 1681. (via @khoi)
Bill Rankin of radicalcartography picks his five favorite maps. The historical meanderings of the Mississippi River map from an Army Corps of Engineers report is a favorite of mine too:
If you're thinking of switching mobile carriers (b/c perhaps a certain fruit company is releasing new models), you should check Sensorly for "unbiased" coverage maps of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and even smaller companies like Metro PCS and US Cellular. Looks like the maps are somewhat inaccurate because they rely on contributions only from Sensorly app users. For example, there are large swaths of upper Manhattan and the Bronx which show coverage only along major roads. But still helpful to use beside the companies' official coverage maps. (via @ludacrisofficia)
Update: Rootmetrics also has coverage maps for the major carriers. (via @ropiku)
In August, the open source mapping project OpenStreetMap turned 10 years old.
When the project was begun by Steve Coast in 2004, map data sources were few, and largely controlled by a small collection of private and governmental players. The scarcity of map data ensured that it remained both expensive and highly restrictive, and no one but the largest navigation companies could use map data. Steve changed the rules by creating a wiki-like resource of the entire globe, which everyone could use without hinderance.
The magic of OSM's early success was not just its timeliness -- GPS was becoming affordable, storage was increasingly cheap, and the iPhone was around the corner -- but its provision of a read-write canvas where emerging mapping enthusiasts could convert their frustration into action. Maps, of course, are intimately personal, but also overtly political: as a true, citizens' map of the world, OSM could address that particular paradox -- no longer were mapping resources allocated by revenue potential; instead, all one needed was time and a computer connection to add data about their country or their neighborhood.
As you can see, from a fledgling project, a rich collection of data has taken shape:
Still my favorite use of OSM: Stamen's watercolor maps. Happy birthday, old thing.
Let's say you have latitude/longitude coordinates of 40.742041, -73.989579 (my current location). How precise are those 6 digits after the decimal point? Well, five decimal places will get you to within a meter and six will get you to within 11 cm:
The fifth decimal place is worth up to 1.1 m: it distinguish trees from each other. Accuracy to this level with commercial GPS units can only be achieved with differential correction.
The sixth decimal place is worth up to 0.11 m: you can use this for laying out structures in detail, for designing landscapes, building roads. It should be more than good enough for tracking movements of glaciers and rivers. This can be achieved by taking painstaking measures with GPS, such as differentially corrected GPS.
Tumblr of maps of cities with stereotypical labels. For example, NYC, land of Nuclear Industrial Cesspool, Asshole Cops, and Worst Train Station Ever.
If the continent of Westeros from Game of Thrones had rail service, this is what the transit map might look like. Here's the King's Landing transport hub:
The maps are the work of designer Michael Tyznik and are available as prints: Westeros and The Known World.
The Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire lets you explore ancient Rome in a Google Maps interface. (via @pbump)
Update: From Vox, 40 Maps That Explain the Roman Empire.
Two thousand years ago, on August 19, 14 AD, Caesar Augustus died. He was Rome's first emperor, having won a civil war more than 40 years earlier that transformed the dysfunctional Roman Republic into an empire. Under Augustus and his successors, the empire experienced 200 years of relative peace and prosperity. Here are 40 maps that explain the Roman Empire -- its rise and fall, its culture and economy, and how it laid the foundations of the modern world.
The Utrecht University Library tells the story of a 1606 edition of Gerard Mercator's Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes... that was, um, less than perfectly prepared:
In the Utrecht copy shown here the map of Cyprus has been included twice. One time at the right place at the description of the island, and one time incorrectly at the description of Cuba! To err is human, also when making an atlas. In this case the printer used the wrong copperplate when printing the map on the overleaf of the text pages which had been made earlier via another technique, namely letterpress printing. Or a mistake must have been made during the collection of the map prints needed, if the texts had to be printed afterwards. The latter way of working was quite unusual however. As far as we know, only the Utrecht copy contains the mistake of the switched Cuba-Cyprus map. But that is not to say that incorrect placements and switched maps did not occur in other old atlases. In a copy of the same edition of Mercator's atlas, housed in the University Library of Odense, the continent map of Africa has been switched with the one of America.
Mercator (of projection fame) had died in 1594. His Atlas the first "book work with maps (1585-1595) which was given the name Atlas," and popularized the term, but Abraham Ortelius's "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" in 1570 was probably the first book we'd recognize as a modern atlas. Mercator wanted to bring scholarly, scientific precision to the work that Ortelius and a generation of mostly-Dutch commercial mapmakers had pioneered.
But the atlas was unfinished, with only 79 of a planned 120 published, and another 34 complete. There were no maps of continents outside Europe, or even of Spain and Portugal. Mercator's son Gerard Jr. sold his father's copperplates, and they eventually ended up in the hands of cartographer Jodocus Hondius. Hondius assembled and augmented Mercator's maps, adding four maps of Africa, eleven of Asia, and five of the Americas, plus correcting that pesky Iberian peninsula problem. He published them as a series, they became hugely popular, and Mercator's reputation was restored.
But there is that one weird Utrecht edition with Cyprus standing in for Cuba and Africa for America. Still, in fairness to whoever switched the bookplates: they had probably never seen images of any of these places before.
(via @marcovanegmond by way of @burritojustice)
From Mapbox, a map of places in the US where it is unsafe or illegal to fly drones. Forbidden areas include near airports and in National Parks. (via @tcarmody)
Smarty Pins is a Google Maps-based geography quiz...you drop pins on the map to answer questions. You start with a total of 1000 miles and the game subtracts the number of miles you're off by for each answer.
I just spent far too long playing this. Can you beat my score of 39? Also, this reminds me of GeoGuessr, which is a lot more difficult.
This map showing where lighting strikes are happening right now is kind of great:
Average delay is about 3-5 seconds. Make sure you turn the sound up too. That's the North American map...there are also maps for Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, although only NA, Europe, and Australia seem to have detectors in place.
The detection system is volunteer community effort. Anyone who wants to can buy a detection kit (for around 200 Euro) and hook it up to the Internet to provide strike data. In turn, the data collected from stations is made available to any station owner. See also the wind map of the Earth and the realtime map of global ocean currents.
Comic Book Cartography is a now-dormant blog devoted to maps, charts, diagrams, and other visual explainers of (mostly) fictional worlds found (mostly) in old comic books.
These maps are beautiful, but they're also packed with definitive detail. I love the stern "SAVE THIS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE" on the first-ever cutaway of the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building, from issue #3. Two issues ago, you've got the FF someplace called "Central City," and The Thing looking like a poop with arms and a mouth, but already, there's a fixed architecture for midtown Manhattan offices packed with reference ideas for future storylines. A man, a plan, Jack Kirby.
In these flattened worlds for tiny obsessives, you've got your narrative and your database all in one: not just maps, but routes, connections, circuits, ideas, topologies. Really, it's dataviz, only since comics don't have, you know, large data sets for running regressions, it's a lot of tiny illustrations with copious labeling. Still, the future of the modern impulse to an "all in one chart" aesthetic probably starts here as much as anywhere. (Via @justinNXT.)
Update: There's an active "Comic Cartography" Tumblr that includes more contemporary examples. Also, John Hilgart, the proprietor of Comic Book Cartography, runs an active blog on images from classic comic books called 4CP (for four-color process, naturally). (Thanks, Hampton)
Video of the growth of London from Roman times to the present, with a focus on the structures that have been protected from each era.
London was the most populous city in the world from the 1830s, a title it took from Beijing, until the 1920s, when New York City took the crown.
If you look at the Washington Monument in Google Maps, the monument's shadow follows the motion of the Sun throughout the day.
The utility of this feature is unclear, but that is some impressive attention to detail. (via @sippey, @kennethn, @chrisfahey)
From Max Fisher at Vox, 40 maps that explain the Middle East.
Maps can be a powerful tool for understanding the world, particularly the Middle East, a place in many ways shaped by changing political borders and demographics. Here are 40 maps crucial for understanding the Middle East -- its history, its present, and some of the most important stories in the region today.
What's your best guess without looking: How many US states are at least partially north of the southernmost part of Canada?
(It's probably way more than you think.)
Ok, I'll give you two hints...
1. Wyoming is almost *entirely* north of the southernmost point in Canada.
2. Part of a state that borders Mexico is north of the southernmost point in Canada.
One more big hint: more than 25% of US states are entirely north of Canada's southernmost point.
So, here's the answer:
27 US states, more than half, are at least partially north of Canada's southernmost point. (via @stevenstrogatz)
From the NY Times' new site, The Upshot, a bunch of maps showing the borders of baseball team fandom, with close-ups of various dividing lines: the Munson-Nixon Line, The Molitor Line, The Reagan-Nixon Line, and the Morgan-Ripken Line.
The NYC and Bay Area maps are so sad...the Mets and A's get no love. (via @atotalmonet)
Using Google Earth, dialect coach Andrew Jack gives a tour of the accents of Great Britain and Ireland.
The audio is originally from this BBC program. See also Peter Sellers doing various English accents. (via devour)
Last week, the New York Public Library released a massive collection of maps online...over 20,000 maps are available for high-resolution download. An incredible resource.
Ben Sack makes these amazingly detailed maps of cities, all drawn by hand.
And just so you can get a sense of how large these drawings are:
Here's a peek at his process:
Reminiscent of Stephen Wiltshire's work. And every time I see something like this, I think about when I went to the Met a few years ago and noticed the sketchbook of this guy working the membership desk. It was filled with beautifully intricate drawings of NYC-style city streets. I chatted with him about them briefly, but I wish I'd asked if he had put any of it online. Would have been neat to share his drawings with you. (via waxy)
From Retronaut, a collection of maps dating from 1000-1300s.
How were maps perceived 1000 years ago? Did they blow people's minds with physically impossible views of cities, states, and continents? Could a circa-1200 scholar imagine himself looking down from several miles in the air and seeing the same thing he was seeing on a map?
Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin favor food as a medium for creating art. Their country maps made from native foods were cute at first glance, but in many cases the maps also reveal a link between a country's food and its culture that I'd never really thought about before. For instance, the maps of India and British Isles feel very representative of their respective cultures to me:
It's only around 30 seconds long, but this video showing a standard web maps interface paired with satellite video is pretty mindblowing:
This quick shot by Skybox's SkySat-1 shows multiple planes landing at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) airport in Beijing on December 30, 2013. You can easily see a large plane landing on the runway at right. Using the video's timestamp and public flight logs, Bruno identified this plane as Air China Limited flight 1310, a wide-body Airbus 330 flying from Guangzhou to Beijing. Operating as a codeshare, that flight was also listed as Shenzhen Airlines 1310, United Airlines 7564, SAS 9510, Austrian 8010 and Lufthansa 7283.
I remember when satellite photography first became available in online maps; this feels similarly jawdropping. Gonna be more difficult to stitch video together into seamless interfaces than still images, but once it happens, it'll prove quite useful.
Stefano Maggiolo made a map of how much the time zones of the world vary from solar time. The darker the color, the more the deviation.
Looking for other regions of the world having the same peculiarity of Spain, I edited a world map from Wikipedia to show the difference between solar and standard time. It turns out, there are many places where the sun rises and sets late in the day, like in Spain, but not a lot where it is very early (highlighted in red and green in the map, respectively). Most of Russia is heavily red, but mostly in zones with very scarce population; the exception is St. Petersburg, with a discrepancy of two hours, but the effect on time is mitigated by the high latitude. The most extreme example of Spain-like time is western China: the difference reaches three hours against solar time. For example, today the sun rises there at 10:15 and sets at 19:45, and solar noon is at 15:01.
Something to note: China is about as big across as the continental United States and has only one huge time zone. (via slate)
To go along with his wind map of the Earth, Cameron Beccario has made a world map of global ocean currents with data that updates every five days or so. Not quite realtime, but still, er, current enough.
From the Washington Post, an interesting collection of 80 maps (in two parts: one and two) that explain the world and how it works. One of my favorites is this map of actual European discoveries of land previously unknown by humans.
Antarctica is all stripey on that map and I realized I didn't know who had first clapped their peepers on the only continent discovered in the last millennia, so I did some reading on the subject. From the Holy Book of Wikipedia:
The first land south of the parallel 60° south latitude was discovered by the Englishman William Smith, who sighted Livingston Island on 19 February 1819. A few months later Smith returned to explore the other islands of the South Shetlands archipelago, landed on King George Island, and claimed the new territories for Britain.
In the meantime, the Spanish Navy ship San Telmo sank in September 1819 when trying to cross Cape Horn. Parts of her wreckage were found months later by sealers on the north coast of Livingston Island (South Shetlands). It is unknown if some survivor managed to be the first setting foot on these Antarctic islands.
The first confirmed sighting of mainland Antarctica cannot be accurately attributed to one single person. It can, however, be narrowed down to three individuals. According to various sources, three men all sighted the ice shelf or the continent within days or months of each other: von Bellingshausen, a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy; Edward Bransfield, a captain in the British navy; and Nathaniel Palmer, an American sealer out of Stonington, Connecticut. It is certain that the expedition, led by von Bellingshausen and Lazarev on the ships Vostok and Mirny, reached a point within 32 km (20 mi) from Princess Martha Coast and recorded the sight of an ice shelf at 69°21′28″S 2°14′50″W that became known as the Fimbul ice shelf. On 30 January 1820, Bransfield sighted Trinity Peninsula, the northernmost point of the Antarctic mainland, while Palmer sighted the mainland in the area south of Trinity Peninsula in November 1820. Von Bellingshausen's expedition also discovered Peter I Island and Alexander I Island, the first islands to be discovered south of the circle.
Buzzfeed asked some Brits to label states on a US map. They didn't do so well:
My favorite is "Further South Dakota". In fairness, most US citizens would be hard pressed to name any of the counties of England, much less place them on a map.
Update: See how Americans fared on placing European countries. (Not well.)
If all the glaciers and snow and ice in the world melted, the sea level would rise 216 feet and, as this National Geographic map of the world shows, things would look a little different.
There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we'll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.
See also Flood Maps.
Sadly, most infographics these days look like this, functioning as a cheap and easy way to gussy up numbers. But when done properly, infographics are very effective in communicating a lot of information in a short period of time and can help you see data in new ways. In The Best American Infographics 2013, Gareth Cook collects some of the best ones from over the past year. Wired has a look at some of the selections.
A 7-minute time lapse video of the European front line changes during World War II, from the invasion of Poland to (spoilers!) the surrender of Germany.
Surprising to me how much of the war involves no shifting front lines...the map view really emphasizes this in a way that other WWII narratives do not. (via open culture)
Kottke loves maps. My favorite of last few years is "Local vs Tourists," but so, so many are fantastic & so is the fact that Kottke loves maps. So there's that to get out of the way: I would be a rabid Kottke fan just for the maps.
But he also loves, among others, Eggers and Tufte and Morris (if you missed this, go back and read the series) and generally keeps his smart-o-meter well-calibrated and active. There's also design and sports and computing and po -- well, no, not politics, but that's just not his thing. Jason can sometimes be snarky (this take-down was epic), but he never throws elbows and what's politics about if not elbows?
I sometimes ask myself, "What don't I get introduced to by Kottke anymore?" A lot, I suppose (I thought I was introduced to parkour by him, but checked and his first post on the sport was a link to a piece in The New Yorker by Alec Wilkinson, which I would have read) -- but what does it say that even if he didn't introduce me to something, it feels like he did? That is the secret ingredient of Kottke -- which will not, must not, ever be distilled or revealed. It certainly can't be imitated, as those of us posting today learned as one-or-another-time guest-bloggers here on Kottke.org.
And now Jason is 40. Can't believe how far back on the Wayback Machine I went to write this post, but hope it continues to go Wayforward: Happy Birthday, Jason!
The universal availability of accurate synchronized time is taken for granted in most areas of the world today, but 'twas not always so. When Big Ben was built in 1859, charts were issued to show the allowance that had to be made for the sound of the bell, traveling at ~768 mph, to reach different parts of London. This one is from 1875:
Bigger version here. The correction at Paddington Station was 6 seconds, 8 seconds in Notting Hill, and 13 seconds at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, itself the seat of a fledgling universal time standard. (via @michalmigurski)
Using data from the 1860 US Census, the Department of the Interior made this map showing the percentages, by county, of the slave population of the southern states.
Though this map was simple, it showed the relationship between states' commitment to slavery and their enthusiasm about secession, making a visual argument about Confederate motivations.
Schulten writes that President Lincoln referred to this particular map often, using it to understand how the progress of emancipation might affect Union troops on the ground. The map even appears in the familiar Francis Bicknell Carpenter portrait First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, visible leaning against a wall in the lower right-hand corner of the room.
Here's a larger version. The numbers in some locations are staggering and sickening -- in many counties 75% of the population was enslaved and the rate is over 90% in a few places.
It's NFL season again and it's time to tune into the NFL TV maps site to find out when your favorite team isn't on TV because the network is contractually obligated to show the pathetic Jets.
Ian Silva is a Australian commuter train driver who spends his spare time mapping an invented country called the Koana Islands.
People in the Koana Islands love baseball. The first league play started in 1882, barely six years after the MLB. Between the top-tier, Triple- and Double-A leagues, there are over 180 teams spanning the island nation. Fans are so rabid that there's even talk of expanding to a Single-A league, adding even more teams. If you're a baseball fan, you might be surprised you've never heard of this. You'll be even more surprised when you try to find the Koana Islands. That's because the 32-island chain, with its nine major cities, 11 national parks, 93 million residents and a landmass that is equal to Spain and Sweden combined does not really exist.
Rachel Evans makes colorful world maps out of Spirograph-produced patterns. Prints are available.
A very pretty but almost completely useless circular map of the NYC subway.
There's a London Tube version too.
From 1890, a hand-drawn map of Midtown Manhattan "from 34th Street to 59th Street and from 1st Avenue to 6th Avenue".
Published in 1927 in a publication called The Motion Picture Industry as a Basis for Bond Financing, this map shows what locations in California look like other places from around the world.
Otter Bends, Queer Spank, Frog Innard, and Lob Horn are some of the stations on the anagram map of the London Underground.
Smithsonian.com has a neat interactive map that shows how the Battle of Gettysburg played out in the Civil War. For best results, do one run through zoomed out a little and then another run-through to at a closer zoom level to see the details. (via digg)
New prints in the Dorothy shop: these really cool Hollywood Star Charts, available in Golden Age and Modern Day editions.
The Modern Day version of our Hollywood Star Chart features constellations named after some of the most culturally significant films to have appeared on the silver screen since 1960 - present day. The stars that make up the clusters are the Hollywood stars that appeared in them.
The chart is based on the night sky over New York on June 16th 1960 -- the date of the first showing of Hitchcock's 'Psycho' at the DeMille Theater. With its new approach to storytelling, characterisation and violence it is seen as a key movie in the start of the post-classical era of Hollywood.
The 108 films featured include those chosen for preservation in the US National Film Registry due to their cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance; Academy Award winners; and a few personal favourites. Films include Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde, The Exorcist, The Godfather, Chinatown, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction and Avatar.
You may remember Dorothy from their movie name maps.
Perhaps inspired by All Streets, Ben Fry's map of all the streets in the US, Nelson Minar built a US map out of all the rivers in the country.
Minar put all the data and files he used up on Github so you can make your own version.
From a 1925 issue of Quill magazine, a map of NYC's Greenwich Village hand-drawn by Robert Edwards.
Joshua Katz has been studying American dialects and has made more than 120 maps of some of the differences in American speech. Here are a few examples:
Update: As he notes on the site, Katz's maps are based on the research and work of Bert Vaux...Vaux's maps of the same data can be found here. (thx, molly, margaret, & nicholas)
Working with the USGS, NASA, and Time, Google has built a viewer for satellite image time lapses. Among the images are those of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, the retreat of an Alaskan glacier, and the growth of Dubai. You can also refocus the map on any other area you want. More info here and here's the extensive Time feature.
The Morning News has a collection of maps showing the neighborhoods that New Yorkers might want to move to in a variety of cities around the world. Probably lots of generalizations to argue about here...have fun!
Prenzlauer Berg = Park Slope. Among the first neighborhoods to be gentrified after the Wall fell, Prenzlauer Berg (the locals shorten it to Prenzlberg, which isn't all that much shorter, but whatever) is populated by the same desperately, tragically hip mothers and fathers as Park Slope. But American yuppies have nothing on their German counterparts, who will invade a coffee shop, block the door with strollers, and turn it into a temporary romper room.
XKCD has linked all the subway systems of North America into one map. That South Ferry to San Juan submarine line is a hike.
This looks beautiful: A Map of the World is a collection of maps by illustrators and storytellers. I've featured at least a few of the maps in the book here on kottke.org. Here's a sample:
You can see more of the maps in the book on the publisher's web site. (via raul, who says "This book is insanely beautiful. Buy it if you love maps. It will make you happy.")
As part of a thought experiment to reform the electoral college, Neil Freeman redrew the US into 50 new states with equal population. In trying to balance the interests of the popular vote vs the integrity of states, he's split the baby so that no one is likely to be happy. Perfect!
The map began with an algorithm that groups counties based on proximity, urban area, and commuting patterns. The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines.
Keep in mind that this is an art project, not a serious proposal, so take it easy with the emails about the sacred soil of Texas.
Your Apple Maps nightmare is over. Google has (finally!) released an iOS app for Google Maps.
A group of Australian scientists sailing to research plate tectonics discovered more than they were expecting. Well, less. They sailed right through where an island should have been.
Dr. Maria Seton, our cheif scientist, noticed that on the path that we were taking there was this very unusal island. Essentially it was on all the Google Earth maps and it was on all the weather charts. But when you zoom in on it it was just a black blob. Google had no photos from it. It was just this sort of slit in the Earth.
The Blaze has a collection of county-by-county election maps for every US Presidential election since 1900.
The video at the bottom is worth watching to witness the shift between a north/south divided country to a urban/rural divided country over the past 20 years.
Starting with a blank map of the US, the object is to place each state in its proper place.
My average error was 8 miles. A better test would be to start each state with the blank map...placing Colorado in the western part of the country without any guide is much tougher than doing it last. (via @notrobwalker)
This is a time lapse world map showing all the battles that have occurred in the past 1000 years. Worth sitting through the whole thing to see Europe go absolutely bonkers in the late 1930s.
There's not a whole not more to this radio than what it looks like, but I will forever have a soft spot for things that mimic the London tube map.
Now, if it contained vacuum tubes or something...
The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal gets an inside look at how Google builds its maps (and what that means for the future of everything). "If Google's mission is to organize all the world's information, the most important challenge -- far larger than indexing the web -- is to take the world's physical information and make it accessible and useful."
In July, we mentioned Infinite Boston, a project from William Beutler to map and photo the Boston-related locations in Infinite Jest. Today Beutler announced Infinite Atlas, which expands nationally on this project, and Infinite Map, a limited edition print featuring 250 "of the most interesting locations" from Infinite Jest.
The Google Earth Time Machine blog uses Google's historical satellite maps to make now-and-then comparisons of interesting places around the world. Like the transformation of this Texas river bend into an oxbow lake over 60+ years:
Design firm Dorothy has created a map where all the features are movie-themed: Jurassic Park, Shutter Island, Howards End, the Soylent Green...that sort of thing.
See also their song map.
If you've ever wondered if any Major League Baseball players come from your favorite city, this is the map for you. See also the 2011-2012 NHL Player map. The maps are by Mike Morton, and I'm fascinated by the fact the NHL had players from both Africa and Brazil, while MLB did not. (via @jonahkeri)
The Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind, published in 1837 before Braille was widely used, used embossed printing of lines, words, and symbols to be finger-readable.
Without a drop of ink in the book, the text and maps in this extraordinary atlas were embossed heavy paper with letters, lines, and symbols. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first atlas produced for the blind to read without the assistance of a sighted person. Braille was invented by 1825, but was not widely used until later. It represented letters well, but could not represent shapes and cartographic features.
This time lapse covers more than 1000 years and shows the shifting national borders of Europe.
There's also a slowed-down version that shows the year and some annotation of events. (via ★interesting)
Update: The originals got taken down but the company responsible for the historical mapping software put up similar versions that I've embedded/linked above. But the new versions are worse and not quite so fantastic. Why is that always the case? (thx, andrew)
I love love love these collages made up of mappy bits from Matthew Cusick.
This video is a visualization of the how ships moved goods and people around the world from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century.
Here's more on how it was done.
This shows mostly Spanish, Dutch, and English routes -- they are surprisingly constant over the period (although some empires drop in and out of the record), but the individual voyages are fun. And there are some macro patterns -- the move of British trade towards India, the effect of the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and so on.
There are times in the video when a single nation dominates all of the shipping traffic...the British in the early 1800s and the Dutch from the mid 1830s on.
Well, now, this is gorgeous. Stamen Design overlaid watercolor textures on OpenStreetMap map tiles to show you what it would look like if your favorite watercolorist designed Google Maps.
It's fun to scroll and scroll. (via @tomcoates)
And since we all could stand to look at more pretty things, watch this video of what different landscapes would look like if Earth had Saturn's rings. (via @ianmurren)
This map of the US was made by David Imus -- he worked seven days a week for two years on it -- and it won the Best of Show award at the Cartography and Geographic Information Society competition for 2010. Here's why.
According to independent cartographers I spoke with, the big mapmaking corporations of the world employ type-positioning software, placing their map labels (names of cities, rivers, etc.) according to an algorithm. For example, preferred placement for city labels is generally to the upper right of the dot that indicates location. But if this spot is already occupied-by the label for a river, say, or by a state boundary line-the city label might be shifted over a few millimeters. Sometimes a town might get deleted entirely in favor of a highway shield or a time zone marker. The result is a rough draft of label placement, still in need of human refinement. Post-computer editing decisions are frequently outsourced-sometimes to India, where teams of cheap workers will hunt for obvious errors and messy label overlaps. The overall goal is often a quick and dirty turnaround, with cost and speed trumping excellence and elegance.
By contrast, David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total. It would be prohibitively expensive just to outsource that much work. But Imus-a 35-year veteran of cartography who's designed every kind of map for every kind of client-did it all by himself. He used a computer (not a pencil and paper), but absolutely nothing was left to computer-assisted happenstance. Imus spent eons tweaking label positions. Slaving over font types, kerning, letter thicknesses. Scrutinizing levels of blackness. It's the kind of personal cartographic touch you might only find these days on the hand-illustrated ski-trail maps available at posh mountain resorts.
Matthew Porter's photo composite Empire on the Platte is arresting.
Pairs nicely with Melissa Gould's Neu-York, "an obsessively detailed alternate-history map, imagining how Manhattan might have looked had the Nazis conquered it in World War II".
In 1942, Life magazine speculated about what an Axis invasion of North America might look like.
These maps are updated every week and they tell you which games are on TV in which parts of the country. Not an issue if you have DirectTV or whatever, but for the rest of us... (thx, joshua)
This handy chart of defunct country names can help you determine the age of your globe.
When you find the FORMER place name on your globe instead of the NEW name, you have confimed the age of your globe.
Rorschmap is a trippy Google Maps mashup by James Bridle that provides kaleidoscopic views of locations from around the world. Here's Paris, complete with MegaSeine.
Clement Valla collects Google Earth images where the 2-D to 3-D terrain mapping doesn't work as well as it should.
(via lens culture)
OpenStreetBlock is an open web service developed by Michael Frumin that converts lat/log coordinates to plain English location names.
OpenStreetBlock is a web service for turning a given lat/lon coordinate (e.g. 40.737813,-73.997887) into a textual description of the actual city block to which the coordinate points (e.g. "West 14th Street bet. 6th Ave. & 7th Ave") using OpenStreetMap data.
There are likely many applications for such a service. It should be quite useful any time you might need to succinctly describe a given location without using a map.
The NY Times has an interactive look at how the Manhattan grid came to be.
In 1811, John Randel created a proposed street grid of Manhattan. Compare his map, along with other historic information, to modern-day Manhattan.
This article has more about the map. (via ★raul)
A map of the Mississippi River and all its tributaries drawn in the style of Harry Beck's London Underground map.
Prints are available. (via strange maps)
Alexander Chen made a version of the NYC subway map that plays music as the trains intersect routes.
At www.mta.me, Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA's actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli's 1972 diagram.
Check out the full version; there are more details here. See also Isle of Tune. (via about 20 people on Twitter just now)
This illustrated map of Central Park individually depicts, labels, and categories by species every single significant tree in the park. All 19,630 of them.
Central Park Entire, The Definitive Illustrated Map is the most detailed map of any urban park in the world. I spent over two years creating it, walking more than 500 miles as I documented over 170 different kinds of trees and shrubs. Central Park contains over 58 miles of paved paths and many more miles of obscure woodland trails. I hiked along every one of them multiple times in order to identify and pinpoint each major tree. There are 19,630 trees drawn and placed in position on this map. There are no filler trees, no fluff. Every tree symbol represents a real tree in the Park, and you can identify its genus or species with the accompanying tree legend.
If you've got a subscription to the New Yorker, you can read about the map in this week's issue. (thx, @bamstutz)
The Brooklyn Historical Society recently restored a 1770 map of New York City, one of a handful of "Ratzer maps" that have survived to the present day.
A British Army officer in America, Lieutenant Ratzer was a surveyor and draftsman, and his map was immediately praised as a step forward from those of his predecessors. For his trouble, his name was misspelled on initial versions of his maps, called the "Ratzen plan."
The map included a detailed rendering of the island's slips and shores and streets in Lower Manhattan, the familiar mixing with the long gone. Pearl, Broad, Grand and Prince lay beside Fair and Crown and the "Fresh Water" pond.
"Manhattan, at least the part shown here, was mapped as precisely as any spot on the Earth at the time," said Robert T. Augustyn, co-author of "Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995". "There was no more beautiful or revealing a map of New York City ever done."
The side-by-side comparison of the restored map with the pre-restored map is worth a look. And compare with the Viele map of Manhattan made in 1865.
Dorothy Gambrell looked up all of the state names on Google and made a map of what the autocomplete suggestions were. Here's part of it:
Lots of sports and schools.
A really nice analysis of the readability of maps from the three big online mapping companies: Google, Bing, and Yahoo. As you might expect, Google is the clear winner; they pay more attention to the little details than the other two services.
It turns out that Google uses a variety of techniques and visual tricks to help make its city labels much more readable than those of its competitors. From the use of different shadings to decluttering areas outside of major metro areas, it sure seems like Google has put a lot of thought into how it displays the labels appearing on its maps. I have no doubt that little touches like these are among the many reasons why Google remains the web's most popular mapping site.
If all the countries in the world swapped geographic positions based on population, then you'd have something that looked a bit like this:
Take the world's largest country: Russia. It would be taken over by its Asian neighbour and rival China, the country with the world's largest population. Overcrowded China would not just occupy underpopulated Siberia - a long-time Russian fear - but also fan out all the way across the Urals to Russia's westernmost borders. China would thus become a major European power. Russia itself would be relegated to Kazakhstan, which still is the largest landlocked country in the world, but with few hopes of a role on the world stage commensurate with Russia's clout, which in no small part derives from its sheer size.
Canada, the world's second-largest country, would be transformed into an Arctic, or at least quite chilly version of India, the country with the world's second-largest population. The country would no longer be a thinly populated northern afterthought of the US. The billion Indians north of the Great Lakes would make Canada a very distinct, very powerful global player.
The full map is here. Interestingly, four countries stay in the same positions: the US, Ireland, Yemen, and Brazil.
Matthew Ericson tracked down the first national election map published in the NY Times; it showed William McKinley's victory over William Jennings Bryan.
The speed with which the results made it into print boggles the mind given the technology of the day (especially considering that in the last few elections in the 2000s, with all of the technology available to us, there have been a number of states that we haven't been able to call in the Wednesday paper).
I'm a little late this year, but the 2010 NFL maps site has been up and humming for four weeks now. The site displays what games are going to be on TV in different parts of the country.
XKCD has updated their map of online communities.
I like the Sea of Zero (0) Comments. (via waxy)
Larger version here. Other stereotype maps are available, including Europe According to Bulgaria and Europe According to Gay Men.
Starting tomorrow and continuing through November, Pratt Manhattan Gallery has an interesting show about maps and NYC. Among the works displayed will be:
- a three-dimensional map of the lower Manhattan skyline made of a Jell-O-like material by Liz Hickok
- a "Loneliness Map" from Craigslist's Missed Connections by Ingrid Burrington
- personal maps created from a call for submissions by the Hand Drawn Map Association
- Bill Rankin's maps of Not In My Back Yard-isms showcasing various geographies of community and exclusion
- a scratch-and-sniff map of New Yorkers' smell preferences by Nicola Twilley
Opening reception is tonight from 6-8. (via edible geography)
The MTA in NYC is looking for someone to keep their transit maps fresh.
As part of a two-person team, the incumbent of this position is responsible for the design and timely updating of NYCT's printed and online map products, including the extensive service schedule panels on the reverse side of all "pocket" bus maps; researching and responding to map design and information issues; identifying, researching, recommending, and adapting evolving map drawing and production technologies; adapting Transit's map products to the agency website and providing modified products for third party publications; advising on or producing custom maps for major agency initiatives and proposals; advising and assisting on other product design, graphics technology procurements and related staff training for all graphics services in Marketing and Service Information.
This has to be some kottke.org reader's dream job...go get it!
This is a Google Maps interface with everything but the location labels taken away.
Take a little time with this one, zoom it in and out, especially on big cities. Excluding everything but the labels from the map emphasizes the Powers of Ten-like design of highly effective zoomable online maps. (via waxy)
The Rap Map plots locations mentioned in rap songs on Google Maps. For instance:
Back in the late 90s, Club New York was one of the hottest clubs in the city, even though it sounds like some sort of fictional club in the direct-to-DVD Night at the Roxbury 2
Then, one wintry evening in 1999, Diddy, J-Lo, and Shyne were at the club when all hell broke loose. Guns were pulled, women were shot in the face, and when all the dust settled, Shyne and Diddy were on trial at Manhattan Criminal Court
Diddy was acquitted, while Shyne was sent to prison for 9 years.
From Bill Rankin's excellent Radical Cartography, maps of the world's population graphed by latitude and longitude. Here's the latitude map:
You can almost see the Guns, Germs, and Steel in there.
This is a very slim, highly-curated selection of some of Kottke's favorite maps, emphasizing the old, weird, and awesome:
Marco. Polo. Google. Rachel Leow retraces MP's voyage in annotations to Google Maps. I'm in this post!
Maps as metaphor. Things like a recipe for omelettes conveyed in the form of maps.
The beauty of maps, a BBC series.
- A Milky Way tube map.
- Ten maps that changed the world.
- 20 cool ancient maps.
Maps of tunnel networks, the physical kind, not IPvWhatever. Great map of the Maginot line.
- Aerial map of NYC from 1924.
A three-year-old's view of the NYC subway. OP drew a map showing landmarks most relevant to her niece.
Caricature map of Europe, 1914. France is a kepi-wearing elephant, Norway and Sweden are trolls that look a lot like fish. (Probably just the shape.)
Strange maps. You don't say.
Nazi invasion of the USSR. This one's in Flash.
Harry Beck's Paris Metro map. Beck designed the London tube map and tried Paris. Actual map's behind a firewall, but Jason's description is good.
Typographic map of London. Like synthetic cubism with letters.
- Maps drawn from memory.
"Wikipedia has a series of maps showing the political and social boundries of the world in 2000 BC, 1000 BC, 500 BC, 323 BC and so on."
- Historical maps on Google Earth.
Map of the galaxy in which Star Wars takes place. Update: This one has succumbed to linkrot, but Wikipedia's got your back.
- "The Mannahatta Project is constructing maps of what Manhattan was like in 1609, before its 'discovery' by Henry Hudson."
In a long excerpt from O'Reilly's recent book "Beautiful Visualization", KickMap designer Eddie Jabbour talks about his process for redesigning the NYC Subway map.
While I felt that it was important to show certain shapes aboveground, I also felt that it was important to leave out certain pieces of belowground information. There are several places where the subway tunnels cross and overlap each other beneath the surface. This may be important information for city workers or utility companies trying to make repairs, but for the average commuter, showing these interactions just creates visual noise. I tried to reduce that noise by cleanly separating the lines on the map so they don't overlap. Consider the different depictions of the 4 line and the 5 line in the Bronx; sure, the MTA's paths may be accurate, but they're also confusing, and riders don't really need to see those particular details to understand where they're going.
I'm hoping this will be a new option on Google Maps alongside "satellite" soon: thermographic view. It's basically a heat map of all the buildings on a map...pop in your address and see how energy efficient your roof is. Belgium only. Unfortunately...unless you live in Belgium. (via infosthetics)
Michael Crawford monkeys around with a map of the US. This piece is called Los Angeles Getting More Annoying as We Speak:
I also liked his alteration to a Chuck Close portrait: Rauschenberg Minus Nebraska.
Locals and Tourists is a set of maps showing where people take photos in various cities around the world. The results are broken down into tourist photos and photos taken by locals. Here's NYC:
Blue points on the map are pictures taken by locals (people who have taken pictures in this city dated over a range of a month or more). Red points are pictures taken by tourists (people who seem to be a local of a different city and who took pictures in this city for less than a month).
If you're travelling abroad with the iPhone and understandably wish to avoid AT&T's ridiculously high data roaming charges when trying to find the train station in a new city, I would highly recommend OffMaps.
OffMaps lets you take your maps offline. It is the ideal companion for any iPhone and iPod Touch user, who wants to access maps when travelling abroad (and avoid data roaming charges) and who wants to have fast access to maps at all times. This app (and the icon) just has to be on the right hand side of Apple's built-in maps app.
OffMaps uses OpenStreetMap that include a lot more information than simple road maps: from ATMs and train stations to restaurants and pubs! You choose which areas to download instead of buying a new app for every city you want to visit.
I used it for a week in Paris and it worked great; the GPS and compass both still work when data is off so locating yourself isn't a problem. Just download the proper maps before you leave for your trip and you're good to go.
Next month, the MTA will release a new subway map. The NY Times has a look at the new map.
The new subway map makes Manhattan even bigger, reduces Staten Island and continues to buck the trend of the angular maps once used here and still preferred in many other major cities. Detailed information on bus connections that was added in 1998 has been considerably shortened.
Manhattan will be shown on the map as nearly twice as wide as in real life. Cut back on the chili-cheese fries, my friend!
The head of the map collections department at the British Library shares ten maps that changed the world.
5. Google Earth. Google Earth presents a world in which the area of most concern to you (in this instance, Avebury in Wiltshire) can be at the centre, and which - with mapped content overlaid - can contain whatever you think is important. Almost for the first time, the ability to create an accurate map has been placed in the hands of everyone, and it has transformed the way we view the world.
As our devices converge, the infrastructure necessary to support them grows and grows. The iPhone costs $200, fits in a pocket, and relies on "a vast array of infrastructures, data ecologies, and device networks" to function...from the mines where the indium for the touchscreen is mined to the cell towers that allow you to locate that coffee shop in Brooklyn.
Until we see that the iPhone is as thoroughly entangled into a network of landscapes as any more obviously geological infrastructure (the highway, both imposing carefully limited slopes across every topography it encounters and grinding/crushing/re-laying igneous material onto those slopes) or industrial product (the car, fueled by condensed and liquefied geology), we will consistently misunderstand it.
See also I, Pencil and this neat Harry Beckian map of the iPhone's connections and capabilities. (via lone gunman)
The Economist redraws the map of Europe with some countries in new places.
In Britain's place should come Poland, which has suffered quite enough in its location between Russia and Germany and deserves a chance to enjoy the bracing winds of the North Atlantic and the security of sea water between it and any potential invaders.
The Beauty of Maps is a BBC series that "[looks] at maps in incredible detail to highlight their artistic attributions and reveal the stories that they tell". The site also links to another maps blog: Amazing Maps. (via junk_deluxe)