Last year a Doctor Who episode turned the concept of the trap street—a fictitious map feature designed to catch copyright violations—on its head. In the series nine episode “Face the Raven,” the Doctor looks for a London street that cannot be found on maps.
THE DOCTOR: But if the stories are true though, there should be a street in one of these old maps that no longer exists in the real world.
CLARA: Like a trap street, only not.
THE DOCTOR: What did you say?
CLARA: A trap street. You know, when someone’s making a map—a, um, cartographer—uses a fake street throws it into the mix, names it after one of his kids or whatever, then, if the fake street—the trap street—ever shows up on someone else’s map they know their work’s been stolen. Clever, right?
THE DOCTOR: My God! A whole London street just up and disappeared and you lot assume it’s a copyright infringement.
Unlike trap streets, the street exists, and the reason it has disappeared has nothing to do with cartographic copyright. Finding the street takes some doing, as this clip the BBC has made available recently shows; unfortunately, it takes place immediately after the bit I quoted above.
Each is a folded paper map of London, 42 × 60 cm in size, that highlights more than 50 examples of Art Deco or Brutalist architecture, respectively, found in that city. On the front side is the map itself, where the architectural examples, highlighted in red, pop out against an extremely spare base layer that has no text except for parks and Tube stations; streets are unlabelled. The end result is dramatic and clear—the grey-on-black Art Deco map is particularly striking—but presupposes a familiarity with the landscape (or a smartphone); these maps really can’t be used on their own to find things. They’d look awfully good on a wall, though. These are simple, well-designed maps that make a virtue of simplicity. They cost £8 each (or two for £14.50).
It’s available as a limited edition print in two sizes, prices ranging from £110 to £140. Maps of central, north, west, southwest, southeast and east London are also available. More about the map at Londonist and Time Out London. [WMS]
Londonist has a “first peek” at the new Tube map, scheduled to be released next month. “Open it up, and you’ll see something straight away that is new—for the first time, TfL has added in the trams, even though they’ve been running since May 2000.”
It shouldn’t surprise me that there’s a mobile version of the London A-Z Street Atlas. There are, in fact, several, the most recent of which is the Greater London A-Z Street Map, which covers some 3,743 km2 of territory and stores all its maps—the same maps you’d get in the paper edition—on the device. (Which makes it a fairly significant download: 603 MB on iOS, 382 MB on Android.) The iOS version costs £5 and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad. The Android version is available on Google Play and costs about the same.
The Bristol Post reports on artist Gareth Wood (aka Fuller), whose iconic London Town—now acquired (as an archival print) by the British Library—was preceded by a similar map of Bristol. An exhibition of his work, called Get Lost, will run from 5 to 26 May at the Palm Tree Gallery, 291 Portobello Road, London, W10 5TD. [WMS]
There’s a certain kind of map found all over the Internet that drives me nuts. It’s the map that compares two geographic regions by labelling one with the other: show that this U.S. state has the same GDP as that country by labelling with that country (or better yet, its flag). But the comparisons can get awfully recondite: labelling the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul with Zimbabwe’s flag because they have similar populations is cute but ultimately useless, unless you have some familiarity with both Rio Grande do Sul and Zimbabwe. They’re bad maps because they’re not really informative—they’re just showing off.
But the problem isn’t necessarily the format. For an exception to the above, see TimeOut London’s maps of London. The first map (above) shows London’s population size by illustrating how many other cities’ populations could be crammed inside London’s boundaries; the same is done with greater metropolitan areas, U.S. cities, Scotland and Wales, and other countries. These maps work because a British-based reader will have some sense of what’s being compared to London: they’re not, in other words, esoteric comparisons. [via]
Meanwhile, and speaking of georectified map viewers, a project to create a multi-layered online map of London, with maps from the 17th century onward georectified and available through a single interface, has received development funding from the Heritage Lottery. Work on Layers of London, as it will be called, will begin in May. Londonist, IHR, MOLA.
Designer Cameron Booth wondered whether London’s Tube Map could simply be drawn better. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the current iteration of the Tube Map is a diagram that’s almost completely forgotten that it is one. There’s very little rhythm, balance or flow to the composition of the map outside the central ‘thermos flask’, and there’s shockingly little use of a underlying unifying grid. As a result, nothing really aligns properly with anything else anymore.” His solution included getting rid of fare zones, redrawing accessibility icons, rejigging alignments, and lots of other changes. Read his post and his follow-up post for the end result (or results: he’s continuing to refine the map).