Texas A&M Acquires Copy of Austin’s 1830 Map of Texas

Stephen F. Austin, Map of Texas with parts of the adjoining states, 1830. Map, 74 × 60 cm. Library of Congress.

The Texas A&M University Libraries has acquired a rare copy of Stephen F. Austin’s 1830 map of Texas. Called “the first map of Texas printed in the United States” and “the first meaningful map of Texas” (presumably there’s an earlier map of Coahuila y Tejas out there), only eight copies of the 1830 edition are known to survive. (Above is a scan of the Library of Congress’s copy.) The map will be on temporary display from today through May 4th and will be the centrepiece of a future exhibition. KBTX-TV, press release. [Tony Campbell]

Ottawa City Councillor Wants a Map of Road Conditions Like Los Angeles’s

An Ottawa city councillor wants take a page out of Los Angeles’s playbook and create a real-time interactive map of the city’s road conditions. L.A.’s street assessment map rates road conditions as good, fair or poor. Since Ottawa’s roads are on balance between fair and poor, it might be revealing, if uncomfortable, to have all that road data easily accessible; at the moment it can only be accessed by asking city officials about the state of a given street.

An Update on Leonia, NJ’s War on Waze

Leonia, New Jersey’s decision to close its residential streets to non-residents (previously)—an attempt to deal with the traffic being routed that way by navigation apps like Waze—has also, like the apps that created the problem in the first place, resulted in some unintended consequences. On, for example, visiting relatives and local businesses.

Previously: New Jersey Borough to Close Streets to Congestion-Rerouted Traffic.

FDR’s Globe

Franklin D. Roosevelt being presented a globe by the U.S. Army at the White House in Washington, D.C., December 1942. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Earlier this week I told you about President Kennedy’s map of Cuba. Now here’s a piece on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s globe from the Library of Congress’s map blog.

The “President’s Globe” is big—really big and important. Weighing in at a whopping 750 pounds and sized at an impressive 50 inches in diameter, the globe was specially designed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt for use during World War II. The massive representation of the earth helped the president gauge distances over water to allocate personnel and material in support of the war effort against the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy. This feat of cartographic history was given as a Christmas present to the president in 1942, and he placed the globe directly behind his office chair, often referring to it during his workday.

Lots of interesting detail in this piece. Three globes were made, under the direction of Arthur Robinson (yes, that Robinson) who during the Second World War directed the map division of the OSS: the other two went to Winston Churchill and General George C. Marshall. Roosevelt’s globe is now at his presidential library. [WMS]

Kenneth Field’s Dot Density Election Map Redux

As promised, Kenneth Field has uploaded the final web version of the quick-and-dirty dasymetric dot density map of the 2016 U.S. presidential election results, which he posted to Twitter last month. Unlike the quick-and-dirty version, the final version is in high resolution and can be zoomed in to quite a preposterous degree. One dot, one vote. [Kenneth Field]

Advice on Choropleth Maps

Last month Lisa Charlotte Rost published a post on Datawrapper’s blog full of tips about choropleth maps: when to use them (and when not to), how to make them better (lots about colour use), along with some examples of good ones. Worth bookmarking.

She followed that up with another post focusing on one particular factor: the size of the geographic unit. Choropleth maps that shows data by municipality, county, region, state or country will look quite different, even if they show the same data. Averages tend to cancel out extremes. She gives the following examples:

JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis Map Sells for Nearly $140,000

RR Auction

A map of potential Soviet targets in Cuba used by President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis has sold at auction for $138,798. Both buyer and seller were anonymous; the seller says the map had been given to them 20 years ago by former defense secretary Robert McNamara. CBS Boston, CNN, Fine Books and Collections. [Tony Campbell]

The Great Polish Map of Scotland

The Great Polish Map of Scotland, a giant concrete relief map 50 metres by 40 metres in size, was the brainchild of Jan Tomasik, a hotelier and former Polish Army soldier who was stationed in Scotland during the Second World War. He envisioned the map as a monument to Scotland’s hospitality to the visiting Polish soldiers. The map, designed and built by visiting academics from Kraków’s Jagiellonian University, was completed in 1979; it stands on the grounds of Barony Castle Hotel in Eddleston, which Tomasik had bought in 1968.

The hotel closed in 1985 (for a while), and the map began to deteriorate. In 2010 a campaign began to restore the map, which proved successful: the restored version of the map, complete with water surrounding the Scottish land mass, was unveiled to the public last Thursday, in the presence of the Scottish culture secretary and Polish diplomats.

A 3D digital map of the castle has also been announced, but it does not seem to be online.

Regrettably, Shetland is not included on the map. Nobody tell Tavis Scott.

The Rumsey Collection’s Augmented Reality Globe App

The David Rumsey Map Collection has a number of virtual globes, but its AR Globe app may be the most unusual way to view them. Released last December for the iPhone and iPad, it uses augmented reality to superimpose one of seven celestial or terrestrial globes from the 15th through 19th centuries. The globes can be manipulated—spun, zoomed in and out—or observed from the inside (which is a good thing with celestial globes).

To be honest I’m not sold on using augmented reality to view virtual globes. It’s one thing to use AR to superimpose IKEA furniture in your living room: that makes sense, because it helps you visualize where the furniture would go and what it would look like. But it’s hard to see the utility of plunking a virtual globe in your living room: what’s the point of adding your surroundings as a backdrop? Case in point:

It’s neat but not particularly useful, is what I’m saying.

French Rail Network Map Updated

Last October I told you about a track network map for the entire French railway network, a map I just loved. That map has now been updated for 2018, which is minor news in and of itself, but (a) I love this map and (b) it’s an opportunity to point at the firm that produced the map, Latitude-Cartagene. Also to point to their other SNCF-related work, including these technical maps of the SNCF’s network and this interactive map of the network in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. All links in French. [Transit Maps]

Mapping the Rohingya Refugee Camps

There are 671,000 Rohingya refugees living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. The UN Refugee Agency has produced a story map, Rohingya Refugee Emergency at a Glance, that maps in detail the dire situation in those camps: overcrowding; risk of natural disaster (landslides, monsoon season); access to health services, food, clean water and sanitation.

Six months into the crisis, the priority in Bangladesh is to prevent an emergency within an emergency. The single greatest challenge to refugee protection is the physical environment of the settlements themselves, notably the congestion, access challenges due to a lack of roads and pathways, the high rates of water contamination and the significant risk of epidemics. These risks disproportionately affect the most vulnerable, notably children, pregnant women, single-headed households and people with disabilities. This already dire situation could further deteriorate during the upcoming monsoon season, as large parts of the refugee sites could be devastated by flash floods or landslides and become inaccessible.

Be advised: it’s a big, graphics-heavy page.

Previously: A Humanitarian Crisis, Observed from Orbit.

Spacing Seeks ‘Creative Maps’ of Canadian Cities

Spacing magazine is looking for “creative maps”—by which they mean pictorial maps or map illustrations—of Canadian cities.

There has been an explosion of maps that are not necessarily meant to be used for directions, but instead are considered works of art and inspired imagination. We want you to create an illustrative map that reflects a Canadian city (or a neighbourhood, community) or is inspired by the urban elements that make up a city (examples: waterfront, transit, cycling, walking, graffiti, parks, architecture, laneways/alleys, streets, traffic, taxis, weather, sewers, infrastructure, etc.)

You’ve got until the end of April. Submission guidelines here; includes some examples from the 2012 iteration of this competition (see above).

The Ordnance Survey Launches a Line of GPS Devices

Now seems an odd time to be launching a line of standalone, single-purpose GPS devices, but the Ordnance Survey has gone and done so: they’ve announced a total of four devices, ranging in size from the cycling-friendly Velo to the robust Aventura and in price from £370 to £500. The OS has been offering third-party devices from the likes of Garmin and Satmap through its online store; it’ll be interesting to see how people see these as measuring up against those devices—or against an app on the smartphone they may already own. More at Road.cc.

The Art of Map Illustration

What do we mean by mapmaking? That’s a less straightforward question than it appears at first glance. A cartographer might talk about projections, scale, use of symbols, deciding which information to put on the map; a digital mapmaker might emphasize GIS and data layers and data sources. Your assumptions about what mapmaking is depends largely on the maps your yourself make. And what we mean by “map” can be quite different depending on the context.

The four illustrators who collaborated on The Art of Map Illustration: A Step-by-Step Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Cartography and Mapmaking (Walter Foster, April 2018) use the terms cartography and mapmaking rather differently. These four—James Gulliver Hancock, Hennie Haworth, Stuart Hill and Sarah King—are illustrators first and foremost. Their maps are neither accurate nor detailed; like decorative nautical charts, they’re not for use in navigation, and they say as much at more than one point. But they can also be seen, I think, as the modern-day descendants of the 20th-century pictorial map (about which see Stephen J. Hornsby’s Picturing America, which I reviewed here last November).

Continue reading “The Art of Map Illustration”