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]

Nowherelands

A book I missed hearing about earlier: Bjørn Berge’s Nowherelands: An Atlas of Vanished Countries 1840-1975 (Thames and Hudson, October 2017). Another in the line of books about obscure, unusual and out-of-the-way places, this one focuses on countries that really did exist, but only for a little while. From the publisher:

Some of their names, such as Biafra or New Brunswick, will be relatively familiar. Others, such as Labuan, Tannu Tuva and Inini, are far less recognizable. But all of these lost nations have fascinating stories to tell, whether they were as short-lived as Eastern Karelia, which lasted only a few weeks during the Soviet–Finnish War of 1922, or as long-lasting as the Orange Free State, a Boer Republic that celebrated fifty years as an independent state in the late 1800s. Their broad spectrum reflects the entire history of the 19th and 20th centuries, with its ideologies, imperialism, waves of immigration and conflicts both major and minor.

Via James Cheshire’s Ultimate Gift List for Map Lovers, which you should check out while I’m working on mine.

Mapping Canada’s War Dead

Over the past few years, Global News’s Patrick Cain has been producing interactive maps pinpointing the home addresses of Canada’s war dead. Most date from 2013. Toronto’s map covers both World Wars and Korea; Winnipeg’s and Vancouver’s cover World War I alone. This map covers D-Day casualties across the country. This map shows the next-of-kin addresses for Korean War casualties. [Canadian Geographers]

A Book Roundup

Writing for the Globe and Mail, Charlotte Grey reviews two recent Canadian books about mapmaking and mapmakers, both of which came out last month: Adam Shoalts’s History of Canada in Ten Maps (which I reviewed here last month) and Barbara Mitchell’s Mapmaker: Philip Turnor in Rupert’s Land in the Age of Enlightenment. Mitchell and her book also get local-author coverage from kawarthaNOW.

Meanwhile, All Over the Map’s coverage of The Red Atlas continues with this look at Soviet posters used to train cartographers.

It looks like posters from Andrew DeGraff’s Cinemaps are available for sale: not just prints (which go for around $55-85), but originals (which go for rather more).

Canada Before Confederation

Written by Chet Van Duzer and Lauren Beck, Canada Before Confederation: Maps at the Exhibition (Vernon Press, July 2017) explores 18 maps from the 16th through the 18th century. The book accompanies an exhibition of (presumably the same) maps and a conference, Canada Before Confederation: Early Exploration and Mapping, which takes place next month, 13-14 November, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia (preliminary conference program). The back cover copy mentions that the map exhibition has travelled or is travelling to several other locations, but I haven’t been able to find any online; if anyone knows where else it’s been, let me know and I’ll update this post. [WMS]

A History of Canada in Ten Maps

The odd thing about A History of Canada in Ten Maps, the new book by Adam Shoalts out today from Allen Lane, is that it’s almost entirely uncontaminated by maps. It’s not just because the electronic review copy I received (via Netgalley) contained no images of the maps being referred to in the text: I expect that will be rectified in the published version; if nothing else I was able to find an online version of each map (a gallery follows below). It’s that in the text itself the maps are quite literally an afterthought.

It turns out that A History of Canada in Ten Maps isn’t really a book about maps, or mapmaking, but exploration. For Shoalts, the maps are the evidentiary traces of the stories he really wants to tell. In nine of the ten cases, those are stories of Canada’s exploration; in the tenth, a key battle of the War of 1812. Combined, those stories form a mosaic tale of nation-building, one that supports the kind of national mythmaking that the previous government in Canada was particularly fond of.

Continue reading “A History of Canada in Ten Maps”

The First Railroads

Derek Hayes’s latest historical atlas (there have been many) came out last week from Firefly BooksThe First Railroads: Atlas of Early Railroads“In this book, Derek Hayes compiles archival maps and illustrations, many never before published, showing the locations and routes of the world’s early railways, as well as the locomotive and rail technology that was key to the development of those railroads. In addition to maps, the illustrations include photos of most of the surviving first locomotives from collections around the world and of replicas too, where they exist.” [Amazon]

New Map Books for October 2017

It’s a busy month for map book publishing; so far I’m aware of eight map-related book (many of them scholarly monographs) seeing print in October.

  1. New Views: The World Mapped Like Never Before by Alastair Bonnett (Aurum Press, 26 October). Collects 50 “unique and beautiful” maps of our world. [Amazon]
  2. Mapping Naval Warfare: A Visual History of Conflict at Sea by Jeremy Black (Osprey, 24 October). Examines original maps of naval battles and explores how battles represented through mapping. [Amazon]
  3. The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World by John Davies and Alex Kent (University of Chicago Press, 17 October). A look at the Soviet Army’s detailed global topogramical mapmaking program. My blog post. [Amazon]
  4. Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies by Andrew DeGraff and A. D. Jameson (Quirk, 24 October). A follow-up to Plotted, this time DeGraff turns his unique cartographic hand to movies. [Amazon, iBooks]
  1. Remapping Modern Germany after National Socialism, 1945-1961 by Matthew D. Mingus (Syracuse University Press, 5 October). Academic study of how maps were used to reshape postwar German identity. [Amazon]
  2. Mapmaker: Philip Turnor in Rupert’s Land in the Age of Enlightenment by Barbara Mitchell (University of Regina Press, 7 October). Biography of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s first inland surveyor. [Amazon]
  3. Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe by Sumathi Ramaswarmy (University of Chicago Press, 3 Oct0ber). The history and impact of the globe in colonial India. [Amazon]
  4. A History of Canada in Ten Maps by Adam Shoalts (Allen Lane, 10 October). Despite the title, a popular history of Canada’s exploration rather than cartography. Look for my review next week. [Amazon, iBooks]

Related: Map Books of 2017.

Atlas of the Irish Revolution

The Atlas of the Irish Revolution came out earlier this month from Cork University Press in Europe and New York University Press in North America. From the latter publisher: “Published to coincide with the centenary of the Easter Rising, this comprehensive and visually compelling volume brings together all of the current research on the revolutionary period, with contributions from leading scholars from around the world and from many disciplines.” The Irish Times’s coverage of the book’s launch focuses on the sheer size of the book: nearly 1,000 pages, more than 300 maps and 700 images—and weighing just over 5 kg. Amazon [WMS]

Related: Map Books of 2017.

A Brief History of Maps

Distilling the entire three-thousand-year history of maps and mapmaking into a 2,400-word article seems awfully hubristic, but Clive Thompson’s piece for the July 2017 issue of Smithsonian Magazine gives it a try, tying everything together right from the outset:

Is it possible that today’s global positioning systems and smartphones are affecting our basic ability to navigate? Will technology alter forever how we get around?

Most certainly—because it already has. Three thousand years ago, our ancestors began a long experiment in figuring out how they fit into the world, by inventing a bold new tool: the map.

[Tony Campbell]

Roman Roads, Subway Style

Sasha Trubetskoy

There are a lot of Tube map-inspired maps of non-Tube map things out there, and not all of them are worth mentioning. This one, however, is: Sasha Trubetskoy’s map of the major roads of the Roman Empire in the year 125, done up like a subway diagram, colour-coded by name (both real, where available, and “creatively invented,” where not) and with all text in Latin.