USGS Topo Maps as Art

“For the past number of years, I have been collecting the U.S.G.S.’s maps, treating them as eminently affordable pieces of American art,” writes Tom Vanderbilt in the New York Times Magazine. “The beauty intrinsic to these maps is the byproduct of an entirely different mode of production, the last gasp of an antiquated way of representing the world.” [Gretchen Peterson]

The Vatican’s Gallery of Maps

Photo by Joaquim Alves Gaspar (Wikimedia Commons).

Aleteia takes a look at the Vatican’s amazing Gallery of Maps, which has recently completed a four-year restoration.

The Gallery of the Geographical Maps was a papal tour de force for its size, scope, speed and style. At 120 meters it is longer than a football field, yet the magnificent frescoes articulate the space with an elegant rhythm. The hall itself was designed by Ottaviano Mascherino for Pope Gregory XIII who wanted to link his new astronomical observatory, “The Tower of the Winds,” with the apostolic palace, so his guests would walk amidst terrestrial maps before climbing to observe the heavens.

[Dave Smith]

Amazon, Race, and Same-Day Delivery

Last month Bloomberg story looked at the racial implications of Amazon’s same-day delivery service, which, the story demonstrated in a series of maps, tended to exclude predominantly black ZIP codes.

Atlanta (Bloomberg)

The exclusions were basically driven by the data: where their customers were, driving distance to the nearest fulfillment centre, that sort of thing. But the issue, it seems to me, is that the demographics behind the data are not racially neutral (something that Troy Lambert’s analysis for GIS Lounge, for example, fails to address): Amazon basically failed to ask its data the next question. Be very careful of why your data is the way it is. In the event, Amazon has since announced that excluded neighbourhoods and boroughs in Boston, New York and Chicago will get same-day service.

(Full disclosure: The Map Room is an Amazon associate.)

Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray Wildfire Damage


Satellite imagery from the Pléiades-1A satellite showing the extent of wildfire damage caused to Fort McMurray, Alberta can be viewed through a web-based mapping application released by the government of Alberta. (Doesn’t work in Safari for Mac; works fine in Chrome.) [CBC News]

Previously: DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurrayFort McMurray Fire Roundup.

The Nuns Who Helped Map the Night Sky

Catholic News Service: “Of the many momentous or menial tasks women religious perform, one of the better-kept secrets has been the role of four Sisters of the Holy Child Mary who were part of a global effort to make a complete map and catalog of the starry skies. […] Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi and Luigia Panceri, all born in the late 1800s and from the northern Lombardy region near Milan, helped map and catalog nearly half a million stars for the Vatican’s part in an international survey of the night sky.” [@CUATheoPhilLib]

All Over the Map: A National Geographic Map Blog

You’d think that National Geographic’s stable of blogs would have included a map blog (I’m leaving aside Contours, a project of National Geographic Maps, which went dark in 2011), but that apparently hasn’t been the case until yesterday, with the launch of All Over the Map, co-written by former Map Lab bloggers Betsy Mason and Greg Miller. Map Lab closed down last November; it’s good to see Betsy and Greg back at it.

How to Circulate a Fake Election Map

fake-uk-elections BuzzFeed’s Jim Waterson calls out a map making the social media rounds that purports to show the results of the 2016 local elections in the U.K. Only it doesn’t. It’s apparently being spread by Labour supporters keen to defend their party’s performance in the elections and convinced their party is receiving unfair media treatment—and of course, people tend to believe what they want to believe. Waterson goes on to show how to make a fake map of your very own. [Thierry Gregorius]

Previously: When Maps Lie.

Preserving Blaeu’s ‘Archipelagus Orientalis’

Joan Blaeu, Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus, 1663. Map, 118.5 cm × 152 cm. National Library of Australia.

The National Library of Australia’s copy of Joan Blaeu’s Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus, a 1663 map that has one of the earliest depictions of New Holland and Tasmania, is in “an exceedingly fragile state”—and it’s only one of four copies left. After a successful appeal two years ago to raise funds for conservation work, the map is now heading to the University of Melbourne, where conservation experts will determine the best way to preserve it. [History of Cartography Project]

DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray

DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery of the Fort McMurray wildfire, which uses “short wave infrared imagery (SWIR) to ‘cut’ through the smoke and identify the active footprint and burning hotspots” and reveals where buildings have been damaged or destroyed by the fire, can be viewed at Gizmodo and on DigitalGlobe’s own blog.

Previously: Fort McMurray Fire Roundup.

It’s ‘Too Early’ to Announce the Fate of the Maine Atlas

It’s been three months since Garmin announced its purchase of DeLorme, and there’s still no word on the future of DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, at least if this item in the May 2016 issue of Down East is any indication.

As of press time, Garmin hasn’t committed either to keeping or killing the Gazetteer, but the PR mumbo jumbo doesn’t sound good: “We’re currently evaluating the DeLorme product roadmap, but it’s too early to make any official announcements on our plan going forward,” one press rep told us. “We are still continuing to sell [Gazetteers] and we don’t expect that to change, um, right away,” said another.

The article also notes that, unlike the atlas, Google Maps and GPS don’t indicate road quality—which in rural Maine is very much a thing. [MAPS-L]

Previously: Mainers Speak Out on the DeLorme Atlas‘Keep Your Hands Off My Gazetteer’Maine Reacts to DeLorme’s Acquisition by Garmin; Garmin Is Buying DeLorme.