Wymer’s D.C.

Wymer’s D.C. is an online collection of the hand-drawn maps, notes and (especially) photographs of John P. Wymer (1904-1995), who in a four-year period between 1948 and 1952 systematically photographed and documented the streets of Washington, D.C., taking thousands of pictures and drawing and describing the city, which he divided into 57 equal sections. The photos are displayed via an interactive map that overlays them over modern-day Google Street View imagery. The site is the brainchild of Jessica Richardson Smith, who as an intern stumbled across the Wymer collection in the holdings of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. as an intern and made the online collection part of her M.A. thesis work, and her husband, software engineer Thomas Smith. More at CityLab. See also Curbed, DCist, Forest Hills Connection and Washingtonian. [WMS]

Mapping the Halifax Explosion

CBC News

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, which took place when a French cargo ship laden with explosives collided with another ship in Halifax Harbour. The resulting blast killed around 2,000 people and devastated the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia; it was the largest artificial explosion of the pre-nuclear age.

Maps Mania points to a couple of interactive maps of the explosion produced by Canadian news media. CBC News’s A City Destroyed: Experience the Halifax Explosion 100 Years Later is a bit over-produced, with 360-degree video and a non-clickable map that immediately segues into a 3D environment with limited interactivity. (It also pegs one of my CPU cores.) Global News’s interactive map is more modest in scope: developed by Patrick Cain, it’s a Google Maps mashup that points to the known addresses of those killed by the explosion. (Casualties in Dartmouth, across the harbour from Halifax, aren’t mapped because the data weren’t available.)

Indigenous Contributions to Early Maps of Alaska

A lecture by independent historian John Cloud about indigenous contributions to early American mapmaking and surveys of the newly acquired territory of Alaska is now online. The lecture, titled “The Treaty of Cession, as Seen through the Lenses of Art, Cartography, and Photography,” is 80 minutes long and full of interesting stuff about the early history of Alaska. Cloud gave the talk on 15 November at the Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau, as part of the institute’s Native American Heritage Month. Local public radio station KTOO had a short article on the talk last month. [Tony Campbell]

Global Assessment of Reptile Distributions

The Global Assessment of Reptile Distributions project aims to map the distribution of every species of amphisbaenian, crocodilian, lizard, snake, tuatara and turtle, with the goal of identifying biodiversity hotspots and priorities for conservation efforts. Reptile biodiversity does not, it appears, align with other vertebrate biodiversity; this is one point raised by a recent article GARD researchers published in Nature Ecology and Evolution that includes maps of reptile distribution by type (i.e. snakes, lizards, turtles) and maps that compare reptile diversity to other tetrapods (amphibians, birds and mammals). Geographical magazine has coverage of the GARD project in their December 2017 issue.

Geological Mosaic Map

York Museum Gardens

The York Museum Gardens’ Geological Mosaic Map is a four-metre-square pebble mosaic that depicts the Yorkshire part of William Smith’s 1815 geological map of Great Britain—a copy of which is held at the adjacent Yorkshire Museum. The mosaic was commissioned in 2015 and created by mosaic artist Janette Ireland, who “used many imaginative devices—including fossils, both real and formed from pebbles, discarded stone from the minster and tiny millstones made of millstone grit—to represent the ideas which Smith was demonstrating in his map. […] The pebbles in the mosaic reflect the colours Smith used in his map, but genuine Yorkshire rocks are displayed in the flower beds on either side of the mosaic, alongside strips of the pebbles used to represent them.” Photo gallery. [WMS]

Ming-Era Silk Road Map Donated to Palace Museum in Beijing

“A huge colored map of the Silk Road from a royal court of the mid-Ming Dynasty was officially welcomed home at the Forbidden City in Beijing on Thursday,” China Daily reports. “The 30-meter-long by 59-centimeter-wide scroll, named the Landscape Map of the Silk Road, is painted on silk. It depicts trade routes starting at Jiayuguan—at the western end of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)—through Central and West Asia to the Middle East.” The map had been purchased by a Japanese collector in the 1930s; it passed through several Chinese collectors’ hands in the 2000s until Hong Kong real estate magnate Hui Wing Mau paid $20 million for it earlier this year before donating it to the Palace Museum. [Tony Campbell]

20 Years of Observing Our Living Planet

NASA

NASA: “Satellites measured land and ocean life from space as early as the 1970s. But it wasn’t until the launch of the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) in 1997 that the space agency began what is now a continuous, global view of both land and ocean life. A new animation captures the entirety of this 20-year record, made possible by multiple satellites, compressing a decades-long view of life on Earth into a captivating few minutes.” Here’s a video about it:

Animations available for download hereGuardian coverage. [Benjamin Hennig]

Czech Railways’ Annual Diary Pulled Because of Sensitive Map

Kartografie Praha

Czech Railways (České dráhy) have pulled its upcoming annual diary from circulation because it includes a sensitive map of Europe, the Lidové nivony reports (in Czech; Google Translate). The map, created by Kartografie Praha, shows Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia as disputed regions and marks the territory held by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Apparently afraid of offending ambassadors and business partners, the railways is holding some 5,000 copies of the diary in a warehouse. [Maps on the Web]

This is not the first time a Czech publisher has gotten into trouble over a contested map. (I wonder if it’s the same publisher.)

Waldseemüller Globe Ornament

I didn’t know Replogle made Christmas ornaments. I stumbled across the above, a Waldseemüller globe ornament—i.e., an ornament based on the Waldseemüller globe gores—while poking around my local map store for the first time in years. I bought the last one they had in stock. It’s 3¼″ (8.3 cm) in diameter, comes with a stand, and cost me all of $10. There’s apparently a Coronelli globe ornament as well.

No links to point you at. Amazon doesn’t stock them (though they have other globe ornaments, like this one and this one), and Replogle’s terrible website is Flash-only.

Server Upgrade

On Friday I finally upgraded The Map Room’s hosting plan, moving from shared hosting to a virtual private server.

There was a small hiccup: initially the VPS was housed at my web host’s Oregon data centre while the MySQL server was in Virginia: this led to pages hanging for about seven seconds before loading unless you loaded a cached version. But that got sorted out late Friday night (or early Saturday morning, depending), and now everything is snappy and fast and not at all likely to throw server errors. There’s tons of CPU, memory and disk space to spare on my VPS; The Map Room had been just slightly too much for shared hosting, but now it will have lots of room to grow before I have to upgrade again. Honestly, I should have done this years ago.

Reader contributions to my hosting bills are a big reason why this upgrade was able to happen. Thanks to all who sent money in that direction. Your support is very, very much appreciated.