February 2004

Geist Exhibition, Media Coverage

Just received an e-mail from the folks at Geist magazine, whose Caught Mapping feature I’ve written about from time to time here on The Map Room. Among other things, they’re having a gallery show of the Geist maps in April in Toronto. They also got a hella bunch of media coverage from that Victoria Times Colonist article I blogged about last month:

Switchboard workers at the Geist office are now recovering after a media blitz that followed the publication of an article by Katheryn Dednya in the Victoria Times Colonist. Her subject was the Geist feature Caught Mapping and its current creator, Melissa Edwards. The story was picked up by the National Post and local newspapers across the country near the end of January, leading to appearances by Edwards on CBC Radio’s Sounds Like Canada with Shelagh Rogers, Breakfast Television on City TV in Vancouver, and Warren on the Weekend, a national phone-in show hosted by Peter Warren and broadcast on the Chorus Radio Network. Visit www.geist.com to browse through a selection of past Geist Maps or to listen to the Sounds Like Canada interview. [Audio clip here, in accursed Windows Media format — JC]
The Geist Maps will be the subject of the first showing in the Canada Comes to Toronto series at the Geist Gallery. This series represents an invasion of sorts-that of a larger Canadian perspective on the Toronto cultural community. As a celebration of far-flung Canadian places and place names, the Geist Maps are the ideal choice for the inaugural show in the series. Melissa Edwards, resident “atlas geek,” and Stephen Osborne, editor of Geist, will launch the show at the Geist Gallery on April 17, with discussion and refreshments. The Geist Gallery is an exhibition and tutorial space run by our friends at the Stupid School of Contemplative Art and Narrative and serves as the Toronto office of Geist magazine.

Details apparently to follow.

Urbis Romae

Richard points me to the Stanford Digital Forma Urbis Romae Project. “This is one of my favourite map stories,” he says.

This enormous map, measuring ca. 18.10 × 13 meters (ca. 60 × 43 feet), was carved between 203-211 CE and covered an entire wall inside the Templum Pacis in Rome. It depicted the groundplan of every architectural feature in the ancient city, from large public monuments to small shops, rooms, and even staircases… .
The Severan Marble Plan is a key resource for the study of ancient Rome, but only 10-15% of the map survives, broken into 1,186 pieces. For centuries, scholars have tried to match the fragments and reconstruct this great puzzle, but progress is slow — the marble pieces are heavy, unwieldy, and not easily accessible.
Now, computer scientists and archaeologists at Stanford are employing digital technologies to try to reconstruct the map.

Panoramic Maps

The Library of Congress has an online collection of panoramic maps — i.e., maps seen from a so-called “bird’s-eye view” rather than from directly above. I saw an awful lot of these in archives and libraries when I was doing historical research; I think just about every settlement of a certain size had one.

The panoramic map was a popular cartographic form used to depict U.S. and Canadian cities and towns during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Known also as bird’s-eye views, perspective maps, and aero views, panoramic maps are nonphotographic representations of cities portrayed as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. Although not generally drawn to scale, they show street patterns, individual buildings, and major landscape features in perspective.

(via The Cartoonist)

Madaba Mosaic Map

“The Madaba Mosaic Map is a unique piece of art realised in 6th cent. A.D. as a decoration for the pavement of a church in the town of Madaba (Jordan) in the Byzantine Near East. [It] is deemed by some scholars to be the best topographic representation ever done before modern cartography. As a source of biblical topography the map is fully comparable with the well-known treatise on the biblical places written in Greek about 395 A.D. by the historian Eusebius of Caesarea and translated into Latin by Jerome about 490 A.D.” (via Plep)

The Face of the Moon; Star Atlases

The Cartoonist has discovered the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology in Kansas City, which has quite a bit of stuff on celestial mapping. In addition to an exhibition of rare books and maps called The Face of the Moon: Galileo to Apollo, the library’s site has made available three digitized old star atlases: Johann Beyer’s Uranometria (1603); John Flamsteed’s Atlas céleste (1776); and Kornelius Reissig’s Sozviezdiia Predstavlennyia (1829).

Telephone Area Codes

This site about North American telephone area codes has a number of maps showing the current and historical area code assignments. With new area codes being added or overlaid all the time, it’s hard to keep up. But here’s a map of the area codes in 2003, plus maps of the codes as they were assigned in 1947 and as they were in the 1970s. There’s also a map of the current codes for the Caribbean — they’re not all just 809 any more. (Thanks, Huw.)

The Dynamap

Here’s something neat: Urban Mapping’s “Dynamap” technology, which uses interlaced images to show different maps depending on the angle at which the surface is viewed. In this case, Manhattan’s streets, neighbourhoods and subway systems. There’s an instructive Flash demo. About a billion toys in cereal boxes have been doing this for decades, but this is a really useful application. (via Gizmodo)

1946 U.S. Railroad Atlas

This month’s Fast Company has a profile of Richard Carpenter, who has published the first volume of his Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946. The maps are hand-drawn and hand-lettered; the article provides fascinating details about their creation. It looks like there will be at least five volumes (the first covers the mid-Atlantic states) covering 1946 — the year at which U.S. railroads were at their zenith. I must find a way to have a look at a copy. (via Here Be Dragons; previous entry: Railroad Atlases)