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]
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.)
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]
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.
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.
Derek Hayes’s latest historical atlas (there have been many) came out last week from Firefly Books: The 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]
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.