Breathing Room: Mapping Boston’s Green Spaces

John Bachmann, Boston: Bird’s-eye View from the North, ca. 1877. Map, 64 × 47 cm. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection

Breathing Room: Mapping Boston’s Green Spaces is the latest exhibition put on by the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

Boston boasts some of the nation’s most recognizable and cherished green spaces, from Boston Common, to the Emerald Necklace, to hundreds of neighborhood parks, playgrounds, tot lots, community gardens, playing fields, cemeteries, and urban wilds. In this exhibition, you will learn how the country’s oldest public park grew from a grazing pasture to an iconic recreational and social center, how 19th-century reformers came to view parks as environmental remedies for ill health, how innovative landscape architects fashioned green oases in the midst of a booming metropolis, and what the future holds for Boston’s open spaces. As you explore three centuries of open space in Boston, perhaps you will feel inspired to go outside and discover the green spaces in your own backyard.

The online version is here. It opened last Saturday and runs until 23 September; for some reason the opening ceremony isn’t until April 3rd.

Globes Exhibit in Abu Dhabi

Here’s something to do if you’re in the United Arab Emirates. Opening tomorrow (23 March) at the Louvre Abu Dhabi and running until 2 June, Globes: Visions of the World presents works from the Bibliothèque nationale de France and other loaned works, including more than 40 globes.

Starting with the great minds of ancient Greece, the exhibition follows humanity’s never-ending quest for knowledge and adventure. Uncover the vital role played by the pioneering scientists of the Islamic world, and track the ancient science of astronomy as it passed through Muslim Spain in the 10th and the 11th centuries. See the earliest-known celestial globes from the Islamic world and one of the earliest known Arab astrolabe in the world.

More at the Khaleej Times. [Tony Campbell]

Van Duzer Assesses Urbano Monte’s Work

David Rumsey Map Collection

More on Urbano Monte’s 1587 world map, a copy of which the Rumsey Collection acquired last year (see previous entry). Chet Van Duzer presented his findings on the map and the mapmaker at Stanford last month, LiveScience reports. His conclusion? Monte was “both a mastermind and a copycat”—and not a very good artist, either. But the map is still very interesting. [WMS]

Ogilby’s Britannia

John Ogilby, The Road From London to the Lands End, 1675.

Something I missed when I posted about Alan Ereira’s biography of 17th-century cartographer John Ogilby: scans of all 100 plates of his 1675 atlas, Britannia—considered the first road atlas of Great Britain—are available online at this site. [Tom Harper]

Previously: New Biography of 17th-Century Cartographer John Ogilby.

Helen Wallis

It’s International Women’s Day, and the British Library is taking a moment to mark the life of Helen Wallis (1924-1995), who headed the Library’s map collections between 1967 and 1986.

Helen Wallis was one of the leading figures in map librarianship who pioneered the study of cartography. She was the first woman to hold the position of Map Librarian, following on from her predecessor R.A. Skelton (1906-1970) in 1967. Over 19 years she made the British Library the centre for map studies through research, publications and exhibitions including the Cook bicentenary exhibition of 1968, the American War of Independence exhibition of 1975 and the Francis Drake exhibition of 1977.

A research fund for visiting scholars has also been set up in her name; details at the link.

The Chiswick Timeline

Abundance London

The Chiswick Timeline, a public mural of historic maps of Chiswick, London, situated along the walls of the underpass next to the Turnham Green tube station, opened earlier this month. A project of Abundance London, the mural is a series of panels reproducing maps of Chiswick from as early as the late 16th century, and traces its development into the London suburb it is today. An accompanying fold-out book is also available. [Londonist]

Connecting Texas: Map Exhibition in San Antonio

Connecting Texas: 300 Years of Trails, Rails, and Roads, an exhibition of 300 years’ worth of maps and documents from the Texas General Land Office and several private map collectors, is on now at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, and runs until 17 September 2018. More from the Texas General Land Office.

Some of the maps presented in this exhibit include Stephen F. Austin’s landmark 1830 map of Texas, unique plat maps that show Native American trails, one-of-a-kind manuscript military maps of the Republic and State of Texas, German immigration maps of the Texas Hill Country, hand-drawn railroad maps created to illustrate the progress of construction of railways across the state, cattle and trail maps from the 1880s, and interesting maps of Hemisfair ’68 in San Antonio, and much more.

Previously: And Now Some Map News from Texas.

Family’s Maps Exhibited in Fort Lauderdale

A Florida businessman’s private map collection is the subject of an exhibition at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. 100 Maps That Changed the World: Discovery of the Americas and the Establishment of the United States, featuring maps from the 15th through the 18th centuries owned by the Asbury family, runs until 31 January at the Alvin Sherman Library. The Sun-Sentinel has a profile of Neal Asbury, whose map collecting jones hit in his 20s. [WMS]

Seymour Schwartz at 90

Today is the 90th birthday of Seymour Schwartz, surgeon, map collector and author of books of map history (The Mismapping of America and Putting “America” on the Map, among others). It’s a milestone noted by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, which gives considerable attention to his long medical career—a side of him that those of us into maps may know less about. [WMS]

Previously: Seymour Schwartz’s Hidden Passion.

More on Two Books About Nonexistent Places

Two items on books about nonexistent places on maps and other map errors, each of which we’ve heard of before:

  1. The Santa Fe New Mexican has a piece on The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps by Edward Brooke-Hitching, which came out in the U.K. in late 2016 (previously); that edition is available via Amazon on the U.S. and Canada, but a separate U.S. edition is coming in April from Chronicle. [WMS]
  2. Meanwhile, at National Geographic’s All Over the Map blog, Greg Miller takes a look at The Un-Discovered Islands, Malachy Tallack’s book about phantom islands: places once thought real, but later proven nonexistent. Like The Phantom Atlas, it first saw publication in 2016; its U.S. edition came out last November (previously). Miller’s piece includes examples of such nonexistent places on maps from the Osher Map Library.

Urbano Monte’s 1587 World Map, Digitally Assembled

David Rumsey Map Collection

In the real world, Urbano Monte’s 1587 map of the world exists as a series of 60 manuscript sheets designed to be assembled into a large world map—one that would be, at 10 feet square, the largest early world map known to exist.1 As the David Rumsey Map Collection explains, “the whole map was to be stuck on a wooden panel 5 and a half brachia square (about ten feet) so that it could be revolved around a central pivot or pin through the north pole.”

But with only two copies known to exist, that ain’t happening. So what the Rumsey Collection has done, with the copy they recently acquired via Barry Ruderman, is to do it virtually, creating a digital edition of the map as a single image (see above). The digital Monte map was apparently revealed at the Ruderman Conference last October (previously).

The Rumsey Collection’s blog post has lots of images of the individual sheets, and explains how digitizing the map explains Monte’s choice of projection:

Monte wanted to show the entire earth as close as possible to a three-dimensional sphere using a two-dimensional surface. His projection does just that, notwithstanding the distortions around the south pole. Those same distortions exist in the Mercator’s world map, and by their outsized prominence on Monte’s map they gave him a vast area to indulge in all the speculations about Antarctica that proliferated in geographical descriptions in the 16th century. While Mercator’s projection became standard in years to come due to its ability to accurately measure distance and bearing, Monte’s polar projection gave a better view of the relationships of the continents and oceans.

The Mercator version of Monte’s map is here. A Google Earth KMZ file of the map as a digital globe is here. For background on Monte’s map, see the accompanying essay by Katherine Parker, “A Mind at Work” (PDF). For more coverage, see All Over the Map’s blog post.

Alex Clausen and the Fake Waldseemüller Globe Gores

It seems like everyone who evaluated the Waldseemüller globe gores is going to get a profile. The recently discovered gores were going to be auctioned by Christie’s last month until experts found evidence that they were carefully faked copies. That was, as I said at the time, a bombshell. Since then we’ve seen profiles of the experts at the James Bell Ford Library and Michal and Lindsay Peichl; now add to the list Alex Clausen, the gallery director of Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps in La Jolla, California, whose work on the globe gores got profiled this week in the La Jolla Light. The article is a bit breathless in tone, but goes into much more detail than some of the others and is worth your time. Some key points:

  • Clausen guesses that the forgery was done in the 1940s or 1950s (“The prime forgery suspect is Carl Schweidler, whom Clausen calls ‘probably the best paper restorer of the 20th century.’”);
  • The reason why Christie’s was led astray was that one of the reference gores—the Bavarian State Library’s—was also a fake (that latter fact has already come out, but this article doesn’t gloss over its importance); and
  • Barry Ruderman, Clausen’s boss, guesses that this is only the tip of the forgery iceberg.

[Tony Campbell]

How Ptolemy’s Geography Helped Get a Man Burned at the Stake

Map of the Holy Land in Claudii Ptolemaei Alexandrini Geographicae enarrationis libri octo. Michael Servetus, 1535. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Last November the Library of Congress’s map blog, Worlds Revealed, published Cynthia Smith’s interesting piece on Michael Servetus, a Renaissance theologian who, in 1553, Calvin had burned at the stake, along with his books, for heresy. One of those books was a 1535 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography, and while that book was not one that got him into trouble in the first place, it was used against him at his trial.

A map of the Holy Land is shown on Plate 41, seen below, while the text on the verso, below the map, describes it as an “inhospitable and barren land,” which was considered by the religious authorities to be blasphemous. Servetus was arrested and underwent trial in Geneva for his other religious writings but this text was used as evidence at his trial. Calvin asserted that the text had contradicted the description of the Holy Land in the Book of Exodus as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” […] Ironically, the controversial passage was not original to Servetus but was simply copied by him from previous editions of Ptolemy’s Geography which were published in 1522 and 1525 by another physician named Laurent Fries.

[WMS]