Historic Cities is an ambitious Israeli project that presents scans of old maps of cities from across Europe, North Africa and the Near East. High-resolution scans of some of the maps, which date back at least as far as the 16th century, are available. There aren’t necessarily many maps per city, but the number of cities covered is impressive. Related: the Ancient Maps of Jerusalem site. Via MetaFilter.
Genmaps is “a site devoted to online images of English, Welsh and Scottish maps from their beginnings to the early 20th Century.” It’s quite a large collection, with maps dating as far back as the 1500s, though some of the scans are a little small. There’s also an extensive page of links worth sifting through. Via MetaFilter.
Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has a profile of David Rumsey, whose eponymous web site hosts a massive digital archive of his even more massive private collection of old maps: 10,000 maps — out of a total collection of 150,000! It’s a fascinating portrait of a man who got a little carried away in the very best sense.
(I mentioned this site tangentially when I reported on one of its collections back in April 2003, but have, to my great surprise, never blogged on it itself.)
Also worth noting, and mentioned in the article, is that Rumsey has published a book, Cartographica Extraordinaire, which puts a selection of his holdings into print. If nothing else, this looks like one hell of a coffee-table book. (It’s going on my wish list for sure.)
- Buy Cartographica Extraordinaire: The Historical Map Transformed at Amazon.com
If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, or will be this Friday and Saturday, you might want to check out the two days of cartography lectures at the University of Texas at Arlington: on Friday it’s the Fourth Biennial Virginia Garrett Lectures on the History of Cartography; on Saturday it’s the Texas Map Society’s AGM. Lots of presentations on both days; the second day, with talks by Ph.D. students and map dealers, is less imposing than the professorial first day. (Sadly, Dr. Woodward will obviously not be attending.) I like the mix of amateur and academic; it should be done more often.
Update: The university’s campus paper, The Shorthorn, has more.
Last December, I reported on the massive History of Cartography Project, an expensive, comprehensive multivolume series, the first volume of which came out in 1987. The project was founded by J. B. Harley and David Woodward. Harley died in 1991. Now, according to Doug Moe, writing for the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times, Woodward himself died last month at the age of 61. The project’s managing editor says the six-volume series will be completed; volume three is due out in 2005.
- Buy The History of Cartography, Vol. 1: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean at Amazon.com
- Buy The History of Cartography, Vol. 2, Book 1: Cartography in the Traditional Islamic and South Asian Societies at Amazon.com
- Buy The History of Cartography, Vol. 2, Book 2: Cartography in the Traditional East and Southeast Asian Societies at Amazon.com
- Buy The History of Cartography, Vol. 2, Book 3: Cartography in the Traditional African, American, Arctic, Australian, and Pacific Societies at Amazon.com
I don’t think there’s a single area of mapping where software isn’t displacing traditional maps. That goes for navigational charts, too. Motor Boating has a review of recent navigation software for recreational boaters. Some of it’s quite pricey, but let’s not quibble: if you could buy the boat, you can hardly plead poverty.
Further to my earlier post on proportional election maps, Science News had an article last month about the art of map distortion in general. Using the example of using a map to show the incidence of a particular disease, the article argues that
Such representations … can be misleading. Inevitably, cities would show a higher incidence than rural areas merely because the former have larger populations. Plotting per capita incidence takes care of that problem but discards information about where most of the cases occurred.
One solution is to take out variations in population density but still show how many cases occur in each region. This can be done on a distorted map in which the sizes of geographic regions appear in proportion to their populations, whether it’s people or goods, or other items. Such a map is known as a cartogram.
The article goes on to describe some of the challenges and techniques involved in “transforming” a map into a cartogram. Interesting reading, if a bit overwhelming.
Murky posts the story of the map his grandfather kept while a prisoner of war during World War II, along with scans of the map itself.
It is a flimsy document, held together with a wing and a prayer, and a few pieces of tape. The map was kept in the camp, and the prisoners used it to follow troop movements which they heard from local Germans at their work placements, one of which was working in a plant which helped to make V2 rockets — an activity they were forced to do.
…The map was hidden by being wrapped in oil skins, and it was kept in the pot of constantly boiling water which they used in the hut for various purposes.
Alexander Stengel writes to announce version 1.0 of MapMemo, a free Mac OS X-only application which allows you to associate various files with maps. This means, for example, you could take an image file and link it to a position on a map to show where it was taken. (Alexander provides a few examples of the app’s use.) This is within MapMemo only; it doesn’t affect any file metadata. The app is freeware — it requires Mac OS X 10.3 “Panther” — but donations get you point-release upgrades via e-mail.
Now playing on BBC Two: a television program about maps! The Map Man is an eight-episode series that began running on September 16. Each episode — see the program guide in Word format — looks at a specific map and cartographer, from the Gough Map of 1360 to the Ordnance Survey of the mid-20th century. It’s hosted by Nicholas Crane, whose Guardian article on the tube map (see previous entry) is clearly based on episode three. Via Here Be Dragons.
Page layout might be a bit weird for the next day or two as I give The Map Room a bit of a makeover. Your patience, please, if I occasionally break things in the process.
Update: I seem to be finished earlier than expected. Everything looks fine from my end — let me know if there’s something wrong in your browser. The end result should be pages that are less-cluttered. Apart from the purely stylistic changes, I’ve removed some links, and I’m ending the mobile page (I’ll use a CSS-based solution via the front page) and the mailing list (inactivity). I’m also using smaller ads on the shorter pages, and I’ve added an archives page.
Update: Snopes debunks, though it hardly seems necessary:
The map displayed above is a clever bit of political humor, but if God is trying to send United States citizens a message about their presidential choices, He isn’t doing it by unleashing hurricanes on Florida.
The University of New Hampshire Library has put online a digital collection of old topo maps of New England and New York. Very high-resolution scans.
This online collection of over 1500 USGS topographic maps includes complete geographical coverage of New England and New York from the 1890s to 1950s.
I have the strange feeling that I’ve either seen or posted this before, but it doesn’t seem to be in the archives. Via Plep.
Last Thursday’s Guardian — they do seem do have a lot of map-related content, don’t they? — had an article about Henry Beck, the creator of the iconic London Underground map that ditched scale and proportionality in favour of clarity.
“No, it’s definitely not a map,” he said. “A map is geographic. This is a diagram.” Beck would have averred.
(Thanks to Neil for the link; see previous entry: The Real Underground.)
Last year I blogged about a noise map of Paris. Now the concept has jumped the Channel: there’s a noise map of London available, and it looks like there will be more such maps across England. There are two official-looking sites — Noise Mapping England and London Noise Mapping — that point to the same search interface. (Thanks Huw; also via Things Magazine.)
The Ordnance Survey is developing a new mapping system that will have a profound impact on everything from insurance rates to trip planning. The key? Something called a toid, says the Grauniad:
The word toid does not yet appear in any dictionary, but it will soon. Toids are the central feature of the most comprehensive mapping system of any country in the world, giving government, local authorities, police, fire and ambulance an accurate picture to within a metre of every feature in the landscape — including items as small as speed humps.
Via Things Magazine, back from holidays.
A University of Pennsylvania professor has posted a collection of scans from historical atlases of the Muslim world. Via Politics, Language and Cultures of the Arab World, via Languagehat.
Another geography quiz — the Geography Olympics — has been posted at MetaFilter. While I generally stand by the comments I made in this entry back in April 2003, this one at least has a good, Flash-based user interface. Still, the Pacific islands got me every single time (you have to guess based on their position relative to one another).