Three years ago, the Newberry Library posted a note about a 1922 cartoon from the Chicago Tribune: “The New Yorker’s Idea of the Map of the United States” by John T. McCutcheon bears a strong resemblance to Saul Steinberg’s famous 29 March 1976 New Yorker cover, whose inspiration is often traced to Daniel K. Wallingford’s A New Yorker’s Idea of the United States (1937). See the gallery below.
Today’s xkcd is a map of the United Sta—wait … what has Randall done? My eyes … they’re bleeding.
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]
Judgmental Maps is a blog that posts snarky, profane city maps—basically, city maps overlain with snarky labels of various neighbourhoods—submitted by readers. (Think of the project as Yanko Tsvetkov but with less talent.) A map of Albuquerque posted there last March got noticed by a local radio station, which naturally stirred up some local controversy. This seems to happen a lot: last month it was Orlando. I’m sure this means something, though it’s escaping me at the moment. [via]
Elliot McIntire writes to recommend Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas by David Banis and Hunter Shobe (Sasquatch, October 2015). “It came out last fall, and has a wild and innovative cartography ‘explaining’ the weirdness of Portland. The authors are at Portland State University and much of the data compilation and topic selection came out out a series of classes they have run over the last few years.
“It includes information about such topics as how street names ‘speak the language of the past,’ the weather (official rain totals are at the airport, the driest part of the metropolitan area), areas with Nutrias, punk houses and condos with the hip crowd, food carts, geeks, Portland as portrayed in movies, why it’s Soccer City USA, noise levels in various parts of the stadium during Portland Timbers games, how to get from Union Station to Portland State going by the least number of surveillance cameras, etc.
“Obviously not a comprehensive atlas in the usual sense, but a real hoot, especially for old, or new, residents.”
In January 2014 a teenage design student from Slovakia named Martin Vargic posted a map of the Internet—inspired, he told The Independent, by the xkcd classic—on his DeviantArt page. The map quickly went viral. Since then, he’s been producing maps of all sorts of things—a revised Internet map, a literature map, historical maps, maps of the world after global warming and an ice age, a stereotype map (see previous entry), plus other infographics—at a dizzying pace, most of which are available for sale on his website. Now his maps are being collected in a book, Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps. It’s out now in the U.K. from Penguin imprint Michael Joseph; in North America it’ll be available in December from HarperCollins. Did I mention he’s a teenager?
Cartographer Daniel Huffman, whose work I posted about a few times on The Map Room, has created a map of Lake Michigan in which the lake’s shoreline has been unfurled into a straight line. “I made this map because I wanted to show space referenced against a natural feature, rather than figuring locations based on the cardinal directions of north/south/etc.,” he says. “I think it’s a very human perspective, grounded in how we relate to the lake, rather than how it looks from space.” (With a 1:6 width/height ratio, it’s also insanely long, rather like a vertical Tabula Peutingeriana, and as such hard to display an excerpt of: you have to sacrifice detail or a sense of the whole. Which is to say: go and see the whole thing.) Via Kottke.
Back when I was doing The Map Room, I followed along as Yanko Tsvetkov started producing map after map of European stereotypes. The project really took off. He’s kept at it since, while I wasn’t looking quite as closely; he’s also collected them into two self-published volumes called the Atlas of Prejudice, which appear to have sold rather well in several different languages. As of July, an all-in-one edition, Atlas of Prejudice: The Complete Stereotype Map Collection, containing all the maps from the previous volumes plus 25 more, is now available.
Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, came out last month from University of California Press. At first glance it looks like it does for New Orleans what Solnit’s previous work, Infinite City, did for San Francisco: it’s a collection of essays and maps that, as before, displays two complementary or contrasting things on the same city map. In my review of Infinite City I suggested that not every city could sustain a project like this, though San Francisco obviously could; it seems to me that New Orleans is a natural followup.
In 1879, surveyor (and future USGS director) John Wesley Powell proposed that the boundaries of future western states be determined by watersheds, in order to avoid water use conflicts. John Lavey takes this proposal to its logical conclusion, imagining a U.S. in which all 50 states follow watershed boundaries. Via io9.
Previously: Fifty Equal States Redux.
I’ve seen a lot of maps that redraw national or subnational boundaries in the name of equal population (here’s a recent example) but the World of Equal Districts is the first I’ve seen to do it for the entire planet: it divides the world into 665 districts, each of which has around 10 to 11 million inhabitants. This is the electoral district map for a planetary parliament. [Boing Boing/MetaFilter]
In 2010 I blogged about Neil Freeman’s reimagined United States where the 50 states were redrawn so that each state had the same population. (That map had been circulating for a few years prior to that.) Neil has since produced a new version at the same address, with new boundaries and state names on a nicer map. Though it’s just as thought-provoking. Via Kottke.