Google’s Invented Neighbourhoods

Google Maps (screenshots)

Google is assigning names to neighbourhoods that, the New York Times reports, have little basis in reality—but once on Google Maps, those names swiftly come into a popular usage they never had before. The East Cut, in San Francisco, was the product of a branding agency; Fiskhorn, in Detroit, is actually a misspelling of Fishkorn, taken from a typo in the source map. (Searching for “Fishkorn” works just as well, though.) How such names end up on Google Maps, and therefore get a certain canonicity, is what’s interesting: it seems to be the result of a tech giant processing diverse data with remote fact checkers and not much in the way of local knowledge. [Boing Boing]

Maps of London and Beyond

Adam Dant’s Maps of London and Beyond (Batsford, 7 June) is a collection of the artist’s “beautiful, witty and subversive” maps. From the publisher: “Traversed by a plethora of colourful characters including William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Mary Wollstonecraft and Barbara Windsor, Adam Dant’s maps extend from the shipwrecks on the bed of the Thames to the stars in the sky over Soho. Along the way, he captures all the rich traditions in the capital, from brawls and buried treasure to gin and gentlemen’s clubs.”

Dant’s maps have been appearing on the Spitalfields Life blog for several years: start with this post and follow the links. They’re also the subject of at least two exhibitions in London right now: one at The Map House, which runs until the 14th; and one at Town House, which runs until the 22nd.

A second book by Dant, Living Maps: An Atlas of Cities Personified, comes out in October from Chronicle. [Mapping London]

Ottawa City Councillor Wants a Map of Road Conditions Like Los Angeles’s

An Ottawa city councillor wants take a page out of Los Angeles’s playbook and create a real-time interactive map of the city’s road conditions. L.A.’s street assessment map rates road conditions as good, fair or poor. Since Ottawa’s roads are on balance between fair and poor, it might be revealing, if uncomfortable, to have all that road data easily accessible; at the moment it can only be accessed by asking city officials about the state of a given street.

Spacing Seeks ‘Creative Maps’ of Canadian Cities

Spacing magazine is looking for “creative maps”—by which they mean pictorial maps or map illustrations—of Canadian cities.

There has been an explosion of maps that are not necessarily meant to be used for directions, but instead are considered works of art and inspired imagination. We want you to create an illustrative map that reflects a Canadian city (or a neighbourhood, community) or is inspired by the urban elements that make up a city (examples: waterfront, transit, cycling, walking, graffiti, parks, architecture, laneways/alleys, streets, traffic, taxis, weather, sewers, infrastructure, etc.)

You’ve got until the end of April. Submission guidelines here; includes some examples from the 2012 iteration of this competition (see above).

Breathing Room: Mapping Boston’s Green Spaces

John Bachmann, Boston: Bird’s-eye View from the North, ca. 1877. Map, 64 × 47 cm. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection

Breathing Room: Mapping Boston’s Green Spaces is the latest exhibition put on by the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

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.

A Look at European Bus Map Design

Transit map designer Jug Cerović has reposted a look at the state of the art of European bus network maps. “I have studied more than 250 European cities and their bus maps, and have also designed a few. Here are some observations about the state of the practice.” He groups bus maps into three categories, based on how they use colour: maps that use colour to show the technology used (bus, metro, subway); maps that use colour to indicate individual lines; and maps that use colour and width to show bus frequency. Now Jug shows examples of each, and goes through the pros and cons, but he does have some skin in this game: he’s a fan of frequency maps, which he suggests solves the problems of the other two kinds, and in fact has produced frequency maps for Luxembourg (above) and Utrecht. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in transit map design.

Previously: INAT London Metro MapOne Metro World.

New Orleans: ‘Totally Unrealistic’ Fantasy City

Don’t miss writer and game designer James L. Sutter critiquing New Orleans as though it was a city from a fantasy novel. A major criticism of fantasy maps, whether of cities or worlds, is their lack of realism: unrealistic rivers, mountains and so forth. New Orleans, with its totally unrealistic terrain, doesn’t pass the test. “Please clean up your map and resubmit when it follows the rules of a real-world city,” Sutter concludes.

The Pictorial Maps of Jean-Louis Rheault

Jean-Louis Rheault

KelownaNow reports that a pictorial tourist map of Kelowna, British Columbia will be updated by the original artist later this year. The original version, first released in 2012, was featured in the NACIS Atlas of Design in 2014. This local news item was my segue into the work of pictorial map artist Jean-Louis Rheault, who’s been producing map illustrations for cities, agencies, organizations and businesses for decades. His Flickr account contains many examples of his work, as does the portfolio section of his website. [WMS]

The Chiswick Timeline

Abundance London

The Chiswick Timeline, a public mural of historic maps of Chiswick, London, situated along the walls of the underpass next to the Turnham Green tube station, opened earlier this month. A project of Abundance London, the mural is a series of panels reproducing maps of Chiswick from as early as the late 16th century, and traces its development into the London suburb it is today. An accompanying fold-out book is also available. [Londonist]

A Fantasy TTC Subway Map

There have been plenty of fantasy transit network maps—maps that imagine the subway, rail or bus system they think their city should have. BlogTO points to a good one: a map that reimagines the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway network posted to Reddit by architecture student Henry Lin. BlogTO calls it “one of the most ambitious and beautiful (like, if you’re into that stuff) yet. It’s the subway map Toronto deserves to have—though we probably never will. I mean, if a one stop subway extension costs $3.35 billion, this system would cost a few trilly to build, at least.” Lin’s done a few maps like this one that seem be modified from the original maps (see, for example, Ottawa’s or Montreal’s); the point of exercises like his, though, isn’t the originality of the design, but imagining the expanded network.

Transport for London’s Historical Archive of Car Line Diagrams

Bakerloo Line CLDs (Transport for London)

IanVisits has stumbled across Transport for London’s cache of car line diagrams (CLDs)—the linear maps that appear inside each train car. The TfL page includes CLDs ands CLD stickers for all lines going back to 1996; each line has its own PDF file that contains every iteration of its diagram, one per page. “No one will care about this whatsoever,” says IanVisits. IanVisits is, I suspect, wrong. [WMS]