Fuchida’s Map of Pearl Harbor

Library of Congress

After Mitsuo Fuchida commanded the air attack on Pearl Harbor, he drew a map to report on the damage his planes inflicted on the U.S. ships. That map, held by the Library of Congress, is the subject of an interactive story map from the Library: “This is the story of how Fuchida made the map, the history surrounding it, and an opportunity for the reader to interactively explore the map’s contents.” [Maps Mania]

Apple and Google Updates: AI Improvements, Airport Health Measures

Last week Google announced “over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps” would be coming this year; these include bringing Live View indoors, a new air quality map layer, eco-friendly routing, and support for curbside pickup in business listings.

Meanwhile, Apple Maps is now displaying airport COVID-19-related health measures based on data from Airports Council International: press release. [AppleInsider, MacRumors]

The Spherical Cow Projection

Today is The Map Room’s 18th anniversary. When I started this blog back in March 2003, it was as an exercise in self-education: I liked maps a lot, but knew very little about them, and thought that the blogging process would enable me to learn things and share what I learned with my readers. The idea that I’m some kind of map expert is just silly: I have no professional credentials whatsoever, not in cartography, not in geospatial, not even in illustration. (I haven’t even taken geography since high school.)

But that’s not to say that I haven’t picked up some knowledge: I’ve turned my longstanding interest in fantasy maps into a few published articles (with more still in the works or in press), so I will concede the point on that front. But in general what I do have is exposure. Over the past 18 years I have seen just about everything to do with maps, and so I know a little bit about just about everything. Not enough to be employed at any map-related job, but 18 years of paying attention, of synthesizing everything I’ve seen and read, has afforded me some perspective.

Enough to call out obvious horseshit when I see it.

Continue reading “The Spherical Cow Projection”

The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps

The Eternal City (cover)Something I often do when reviewing a book is talk about it in terms of the expectations of its potential readers—particularly if readers might come to a book with expectations that the book does not meet, because the book is doing something different. If you’re expecting The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps, written by the art historian Jessica Maier and published last November by the University of Chicago Press, to be basically A History of Rome in 100 Maps, it isn’t: the count is more like three dozen. This doesn’t mean that The Eternal City is a slight book—it most certainly is not, though at 199 pages it’s a bit shorter than, say, A History of America in 100 Maps (272 pages).

But counting maps would miss the difference in Maier’s approach. To invoke xkcd, this is depth-first rather than breadth-first: there are fewer maps here, but they’re discussed in much more depth than the two-page spreads of the hundred-map books, and provided with much more context. This is a history of Rome in maps in which history, Rome and maps all get their proper share of attention.

Continue reading “The Eternal City: A History of Rome in Maps”

New Exhibition: Mapping the Islamic World

Map from Kâtip Çelebi’s Cihannüma, 1732. Barry Ruderman Map Collection. Creative Commons licence.

A new online exhibition at Stanford Libraries’ Rumsey Map Center: Mapping the Islamic World: The Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Empires. Curated by guest curator Alexandria Brown-Hejazi, the exhibition, which opened last week, “explores maps of the Islamic World, focusing on the ‘Gunpowder Empires’ of Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Persia, and Mughal India. […] A rich cartographic exchange took place between these three empires and European powers, as maps were used to chart their expansive territories, military campaigns, and trade routes.”

Upcoming Workshops

Two workshops/courses coming in June:

Australian author and illustrator Kathleen Jennings will teach a workshop on fantasy mapmaking in June: the focus of Map Making and World Building is “on story and art,” the mapmaking illustrative rather than cartographical, and in general it seems to be about the relationship between map and story. The workshop will take place on 19 June both in-person (at the Queensland Writers Centre in Brisbane) and via livestream; tickets range from A$35 to A$100, depending.

A History of Maps and Mapping, a short introductory online course taught by Katherine Parker as part of the London Rare Books School’s program of summer courses, “will challenge students to destabilize and broaden the traditional definition of ‘map’, and to recognize maps as socially constructed objects that are indicative of the values and biases of their makers and the cultures that created them. Students will learn how to analyse and catalogue maps for a variety of research purposes, and to discuss changes in map technology and style without recourse to a progressive narrative of scientific improvement.” Matthew Edney will supply a guest lecture. The course runs from 29 June to 2 July and costs £100 (student) or £175.

Mapping Partisan Sorting in America

Partisanship in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New York (New York Times)
The New York Times

The New York Times maps partisan sorting in America—the tendency for voters to self-select into areas where people think and vote the same way they do—down to the neighbourhood level.

The maps above—and throughout this article—show their estimates of partisanship down to the individual voter, colored by the researchers’ best guess based on public data like demographic information, voter registration and whether voters participated in party primaries.

We can’t know how any individual actually voted. But these maps show how Democrats and Republicans can live in very different places, even within the same city, in ways that go beyond the urban-suburban-rural patterns visible in aggregated election results.

It goes beyond racial, urban vs. suburban vs. rural and house vs. apartment splits, to the point where researchers are wondering whether Americans are “paying attention to the politics of their neighbors” when they decide where to live. This has implications not only in terms of electoral targeting (e.g. gerrymandering, voter suppression), but in terms of basic social cohesion.

The maps are based on research by Jacob R. Brown and Ryan D. Enos published earlier this month in Nature Human Behavior.

Previously: Red and Blue vs. Gray and Green.

Edney Reviews ‘When Maps Become the World’

Matthew Edney reviews Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther’s When Maps Become the World (University of Chicago Press, 2020), a philosophy of science book that engages with maps and representation—with what Winther calls “map thinking.” Edney isn’t convinced by Winther’s approach: “Winther remains committed to outmoded and deeply flawed concepts of the nature of ‘the map’ that, to be honest, call into question the entire project.”

How Black Cartographers Have Mapped Racism in America

Library of Congress

Writing at The Conversation, geographers Derek Alderman and Joshua Inwood explore African American examples of “counter-mapping,” from maps made by the Black Panthers proposing new police districts to modern interactive maps of lynchings and police violence. “Black Americans were among the earliest purveyors of counter-mapping, deploying this alternative cartography to serve a variety of needs a century ago.” [Osher]

Previously: ‘Counter-Mapping’ the Amazon.

A Mars Map Roundup

Nathaniel Green's map of MarsNational Geographic looks at the rivalry between two early cartographers of Mars who based their maps on observations made during Mars’s “Great Opposition” in 1877: Nathaniel Green, whose Mars “was a delicately shaded world with landforms that gradually rose from vast plains and features that blended into one another” (pictured here) and Giovanni Schiaparelli, whose Mars had more detail—including those famous canals—but was less accurate.

A new study maps the possible locations of subsurface water-ice reservoirs, vital for any crewed missions. [Sky & Telescope]

Kenneth Field’s virtual globe of Mars follows in the footsteps of his 2016 map.

Interactive maps showing the locations and paths of the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers. [Maps Mania]

Field Releases Dot Density Map for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

 Dasymetric dot density poster of the 2020 US Presidential election
Kenneth Field. Creative Commons licence.

Kenneth Field has released a dasymetric dot density map of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results. One dot equals one vote. “Data at a county level has been reapportioned to urban areas. Dots are positioned randomly.” It’s in the same vein as his 2016 map, which went all kinds of viral when he posted it in early 2018. A high-resolution downloadable poster is here; an interactive version is here.

Previously: Kenneth Field’s Dot Density Election Map; Kenneth Field’s Dot Density Election Map Redux.

Fire Insurance Maps Online

Penn State University Libraries’ collection of Pennsylvania Sanborn fire insurance maps dates to 1925, which means that as of this year they’re in the public domain—and freely available to use. Meanwhile, Maps Mania has a roundup of other fire insurance maps resources. The Library of Congress has a collection of 50,000 Sanborn atlases, 35,000 of which are available online (collections, navigator). In the United Kingdom, fire insurance maps were produced by Charles E. Goad Ltd.; Goad maps are available via the British Library and the National Library of Scotland.

Fire insurance maps are an invaluable resource for historical researchers: they’re extremely detailed snapshots of the built environment of virtually every city and town, and there are usually several such snapshots (I’ve seen at least three for my little village, for example), so you can chart a town’s growth over time at a level of detail an OS, quad or topo map can’t match.