Repairing and Cleaning Old New York Maps

In yesterday’s New York Times, a piece on efforts by the New York City Municipal Archives to preserve the city’s earliest maps and architectural drawings.

Inside the lab, conservators talk about the care of antique maps like a doctor discusses a patient’s condition and treatment in an intensive care unit.

Conservators will lay a given map on a table for an exam and diagnose the issue: Is it brittle or burned? Damaged by water or tape? Crumbly, delaminated or peeling? Then they record the treatment in a chart of sorts so that years later, the next caretaker will know what remedy was given.

The repair process of a map—like that for a more than 200-year-old, torn illustration of Williamsburg, Brooklyn—typically takes several hours, though sometimes the conservators will spend days working on just one.

[WMS]

Project Subway NYC’s X-Ray Area Maps

As part of her Project Subway NYC, architect Candy Chan has created a series of X-Ray Area Maps of various New York subway stations. These maps show the subway stations—their platforms, their passages, their staircases—relative to the surrounding streets and buildings. Absolutely engrossing. Chan explains her methodology in this blog post. She’s also selling posters. [Kottke]

New York Subway Track Map

Last year I told you about Andrew Lynch’s posters of individual New York subway lines. Now Lynch has created something that will be of interest to anyone who likes the London Underground’s track network map or Franklin Jarrier’s detailed rail maps: a geographically accurate subway track map for New York City, which can be downloaded as a PDF here. He describes how he went about making it (with apologia that sound like standard mapmaking compromises):

Collecting every historical map I could find, using GIS data, satellite imagery (both current and historic), YouTube videos of fan trips, my own observations looking out the window of trains through tunnels, and talking to retired track workers I was able to draw what I believe to be the most accurate track map of the NYC Subway ever. Features I’ve added to the map are all provisions for future expansion and abandoned sections with a notes section explaining each one as well as an exploded view for the more complex stations and areas obscured by overlapping tracks. I’ve elected to remove all streets as not to clutter the map and also not to imply that specific sections (such as crossovers) are perfectly aligned to the street grid. While the map is geographically accurate at this scale tracks had to be spaced far enough apart to read correctly so lines are not perfect aligned with the widths of the streets. Also some train yards have been truncated to fit within the geographical boundaries of the map.

Previously: New York Subway Line Posters; A Map of the London Underground Track Network.

Recent Book Reviews

Atlas ObscuraAt The Skiffy and Fanty Show, Paul Weimer reviews Atlas Obscura. “So is there a point to the book? Is there any good reason to read the book and not just go trolling and traversing through the website, which has many more entries? Yes. Even in an interconnected world such as ours, there is a tactile experience to flipping through this book, coffee table style […] While wandering through links on the website is a time-honored tradition, the book has a presentation that the website can’t quite match.” I reviewed Atlas Obscura last September.

You Are Here NYC: Mapping the Soul of the CityForbes contributor Tanya Mohn reviews Katherine Harmon’s latest map art book, You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City (previously). If all goes well (it doesn’t always, mind), I should have my own review of this book up later this week. [WMS]

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City AtlasAs for the other new map book about New York City, Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s Non-Stop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, there’s a review up on Hyperallergic by Allison Meier, replete with photos of the book. “Every map is an intense act of creative collaboration, with essays and illustrations in Nonstop Metropolis from over 30 artists and writers. […] And the maps emphasize that this city’s character is often missing from our more official cartography.” [WMS]

You Are Here: NYC

you-are-here-nycToday is the publication date for Katharine Harmon’s latest book of map art: You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City (Princeton Architectural Press). This is Harmon’s third map art book and features some two hundred maps of New York City, “charting every inch and facet of the five boroughs, depicting New Yorks of past and present, and a city that never was.” Fast Company Co.Design’s Meg Miller has a piece on the book. [via]

Previously: A Forthcoming Map Art Book About New York City.

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas

nonstop-metropolisAnother book coming out this month: Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Shapiro (University of California Press, 19 October). It’s the third and apparently final book in a series of city atlases authored or co-authored by Solnit — you may remember Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (2010) or Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013). If you do, you’ll have some idea of what Nonstop Metropolis is likely to be about. Curbed New York’s Nathan Kensinger has a piece on it, in case you don’t. [MAPS-L]

Mapping Gentrification Risk in New York City

nyc-housing-displacement

The Displacement Alert Project Map is a tool built by the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development that maps, building by building, the risk of gentrification in New York City—i.e., where the rent is about to get too damn high. Intended for use by housing advocates, tenant organizers, community groups and others, the map calculates the risk of displacement—being pushed out of affordable housing—based on several factors. “Access to this data equips communities with information necessary to fight back against the displacement of residents who are being priced out and pushed out of their neighborhoods, to stop the harassment of tenants by bad landlords, and to prevent the expiration and loss and affordable housing units.” [Gothamist/Maps Mania]

Anthony Denaro’s Map of All of NYC’s Transit

denaro-nyc-transit

Never mind research that suggests that a single map adding bus lines to an already complicated subway map is cognitively overwhelming. Anthony Denaro has created a map of the New York City transit system that shows bus as well as subway routes—basically, a map of every means of transportation accessible by Unlimited MetroCard. Complex? You bet. Difficult to produce? Unquestionably: Anthony takes us through all the design choices he had to make. Difficult to use? Impossible for me to say (I haven’t even visited New York), but as Anthony points out, this map isn’t for tourists; it’s for frequent users. And no doubt it’ll be yet another engagement in the ongoing New York Subway Map War. [CityLab]

A Forthcoming Map Art Book About New York City

you-are-here-nycYesterday on her Facebook page, Katharine Harmon announced her next map art book: You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City is coming in November from Princeton Architectural Press. “It features 150 cartographic views of New York (which has to be the most-mapped city in the world)—including historical maps, cartoons, contemporary art, pictorial maps, hand-drawn maps, and more,” Harmon writes. Based on her previous books, You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (2004) and The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography (2009), both of which I own, this will almost certainly be a book worth looking for. Pre-order at Amazon.

See also: Map Books of 2016.

New York Subway Line Posters

vanshnookenraggen

Andrew Lynch has created posters of individual New York subway lines. Each poster contains ridership and historical data, and the lines are geographically accurate but are otherwise blank.

When I look at the subway map I always want to know where the lines really go. The VanMaps take this wish to a ridiculous extreme. A fully geographic map would be cluttered and difficult to read. I stripped that all away. All you have now is the essence, the subway itself and nothing else. In trying for the most geographic accuracy the map now becomes totally abstracted. The subway line exists on a blank plane. Totally accurate, totally useless. But damn does it look good.

[via]

Urban Scratchoff

Using an interactive interface to compare present-day and historical maps and aerial imagery is done all the time—on this website I use a slider plugin—but Chris Whong’s Urban Scratchoff uses a familiar metaphor to compare present-day aerial images of New York City with imagery from 1924. Give it a try. More on how Chris did it. [via]