The Atlas of Boston History, edited by Boston historian Nancy S. Seasholes, came out last week from the University of Chicago Press. It features 57 full-colour spreads—for a complete list, plus some examples, go here—that trace the city’s history from the post-glacial period to the present day through maps, photos, illustrations and accompanying text from three dozen different contributors. (The maps are original to this volume: this is a historical atlas, not a collection of old maps, in case that needs saying.) Looks impressive and interesting.
During the 19th century, the United States expanded dramatically westward. Immigrant settlers rapidly spread across the continent and transformed it, often through violent or deceptive means, from ancestral Native lands and borderlands teeming with diverse communities to landscapes that fueled the rise of industrialized cities. Historical maps, images and related objects tell the story of the sweeping changes made to the physical, cultural, and political landscape. Moving beyond the mythologized American frontier, this map exhibition explores the complexity of factors that shaped our country over the century.
As usual, there’s a comprehensive online version, which is peppered with acknowledgements of the very white, very settler-colonialist perspective of the maps on display. Which are, of course, justified, but as far as I can see they’re asterisks and asides on an otherwise unchanged exhibit.
A new exhibition opened at the Leventhal Map Center today: Crossing Boundaries: Art // Maps “juxtaposes contemporary works of art with selected maps from the collections of the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library. These pairings and trios create dialogues that illuminate the crossing of the traditional boundaries of art and maps, and stimulate a fresh appreciation of both media.” Runs until 20 April 2019; if you can’t make it to Boston there’s an online version.
Boston boasts some of the nation’s most recognizable and cherished green spaces, from Boston Common, to the Emerald Necklace, to hundreds of neighborhood parks, playgrounds, tot lots, community gardens, playing fields, cemeteries, and urban wilds. In this exhibition, you will learn how the country’s oldest public park grew from a grazing pasture to an iconic recreational and social center, how 19th-century reformers came to view parks as environmental remedies for ill health, how innovative landscape architects fashioned green oases in the midst of a booming metropolis, and what the future holds for Boston’s open spaces. As you explore three centuries of open space in Boston, perhaps you will feel inspired to go outside and discover the green spaces in your own backyard.
The online version is here. It opened last Saturday and runs until 23 September; for some reason the opening ceremony isn’t until April 3rd.
Along with Regions and Seasons (previously), the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center is hosting another exhibition, Who We Are: Boston Immigration Then and Now, which runs until 26 August. “This exhibition compares the landscape of today’s ‘new’ Boston with that of over 100 years ago. The maps and graphics on display here show where Boston’s foreign-born residents originate from, and where newer immigrant groups have settled, while celebrating who we are, and the vibrant diversity that is Boston.” Text is in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Open now and running through 26 February 2017 at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Center, Shakespeare’s Here and Everywhere asks “What roles do place, identity and travel play in his comedies, tragedies and histories? Explore these questions and more through maps, atlases and illustrations of Shakespeare’s time and beyond.” [Tony Campbell]
Mapping Australia: Country to Cartography runs from 4 October 2016 to 15 January 2017 at the AAMU Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Utrecht, Netherlands. The exhibition “will explore the different representations of Australia. Alongside the VOC’s historical maps of Australia’s coast, drawn by Dutch cartographers in the 17th and 18th centuries, are striking depictions of the country in contemporary art works of Aboriginal artists that are derived from thousands of years of traditions.” [WMS]
The problem with big maps—the Electric Map of Gettysburg, the B.C. Challenger Map—is that they’re exceedingly difficult to move when the time comes. Betsy Mason at All Over the Map reports that this is now the situation at the Boston Globe: since 1978 their headquarters has been the home of an 18-by-12-foot, four-ton marble map of New England that had originally been commissioned for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in 1953. But now the cash-strapped Globe is moving to smaller digs, and there isn’t room for the map. Boston’s a relative hotbed of map activity, so I’m hopeful it can find a home.
Ellen Harvey’s Network, envisaged as a hand-made glass mosaic depicting Boston’s transportation network, has been chosen as the permanent art installation to be installed at Boston’s South Station. From the proposal:
NETWORK will consist of a hand-made glass mosaic map of the surroundings of South Station juxtaposing the three principal forms of land transportation (rail, subway and road) with the older water-based routes into the city. Each form of transportation is coded a different color—black for subways, dark grey for rail, light grey for roads and silver for water. As travelers descend the stairs, they move towards the ocean where a small mermaid inset in the silvery sea of Boston harbor surveys (literally) the land. NETWORK imagines a world in which the mermaid escapes her destiny of romantic frustration and temptation and decides to take on the land, just as perhaps now we need nature to lead our transportation decisions, rather than to be subject to them.
Harvey, by the way, has the best quote: “There is no romance in your soul if you don’t love a map.” [via]
NPR graphics editor Alyson Hurt discovered that this month’s blizzard was showing up in Google Maps as traffic delays, and whipped up a little script that took regular screencaps of Google Maps’s traffic layer. She then created an animated GIF from the screencaps. The end result (above) dramatically shows the storm sweeping across the mid-Atlantic states.
Andy Woodruff imagines Boston neighbourhoods as islands, where any unpopulated areas—commercial districts, industrial areas, highways, parks—are represented as water. “Some neighborhoods of the Boston area are actual islands, or were at one point. Others, however, can feel that way even when connected to each other by land. Water isn’t the only thing that can create a gulf between neighborhoods; sometimes it’s created by features of the urban landscape and the experience of passing through them.” [via]
For another example of using fantasy map design language to create real-world maps, here’s the work of geography professor Stentor Danielson, who draws maps of U.S. cities in the style of fantasy maps and sells them on Etsy. Boston, Cleveland (above), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington are available. His Tumblr. Via io9.