A Fine and Fertile Country: How America Mapped Its Meals, an exhibition at the Harvard Map Collection, runs through 1 March 2019. “Harvard’s maps of American agriculture, ranging from the colonial period to current GIS data, demonstrate how food production has been a matter of concern ever since the first colonists arrived. The history of finding and farming food in the United States is a story of culture and convenience, capitalism and cattle drives. Academic arguments aside, once you see what the maps will show you, you might never look at apples and potatoes the same way.” No online version yet.
In my review Tuesday of Tom Harper’s Atlas: A World of Maps from the British Library, I spent some time talking about the choices made when assembling a collection of maps. Susan Schulten’s third (solo-authored) book, A History of America in 100 Maps, out now from the University of Chicago Press in the Americas and the British Library in the U.K., also draws upon the British Library’s map collection, particularly in the early chapters. (This may come as a surprise, seeing as it’s a book about America.) In a few instances the same map makes an appearance in both books. But in terms of what the two books do with the maps, their approaches are quite different.
Schulten, a history professor at the University of Denver, is the author of The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880-1950 (University of Chicago Press, 2001) and Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2012). These are social histories of maps and mapmaking, which is very much my kind of thing, and I’ve been meaning to check out Schulten’s (and Martin Brückner’s) work for some time. From what I gather, Schulten’s work focuses on how maps were made and used—the function of maps.
In April amateur cartographer Philip Kearney created “United States of Apathy,” a map that imagined the 2016 U.S. presidential election results if nonvoters were counted as a vote for “nobody,” in which case “nobody” would have won the electoral college by a landslide. Esri cartographer Jim Herries recently collaborated with Kearney on an interactive version that explores the phenomenon of apathetic voters in more depth. [CityLab]
Atlas Obscura looks at the cartographic work of early American educator Emma Willard, who in 1829 published a series of maps to accompany her History of United States, or Republic of America, a school textbook that came out the previous year. The book was an early example of a historical atlas: it was “the first book of its kind—the first atlas to present the evolution of America.”
There’s a lot of stuff relevant to our interests on the website of the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, and it’s hard to know what to begin with. One of the more recent projects, which CityLab saw fit to link to yesterday, is an interactive map showing elections to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1840 to 2016. It’s the kind of project that the user can get very, very lost in. In addition to the usual map of U.S. congressional districts, the site can also visualize the districts as a dot map to minimize the empty-land-doesn’t-vote problem (they call it a cartogram: it isn’t). There’s also a timeline showing the overall results over time at a glance; selecting a district gives shows how the district voted in past contests as a line graph. In other words: quite a lot of data, economically presented.
FiveThirtyEight looks at the polling data for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections and imagines the results for the U.S. House of Representatives if only women, men, nonwhite voters and white voters by education level voted. It’s a thought exercise they’ve indulged in before, with the presidential race in 2016, and it serves to indicate the demographic divide in voting intentions. (Cartographically, the maps suffer from the usual problem of U.S. election maps of congressional districts—large, sparsely populated districts in the middle of the country dominate the map.)
Carbon monoxide released into the atmosphere by the California wildfires is drifting across North America in concentrations sufficient to turn up on the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. A series of maps showing CO concentrations in the United States between 30 July and 7 August, using AIRS data, have been combined into the animation above.
Previously: Mapping the Northern California Wildfires.
Bloomberg explores land use in the United States with a series of low-resolution maps that become more and more like infographics in the shape of the lower 48 states. It’s a revealing look at the big picture, with some surprises: 41 percent of U.S. land is used to feed livestock.
Dave Imus is in the news again: he’s the subject of this profile by Oregon Public Broadcasting, which looks at his childhood, his career, and his sudden launch to fame and fortune when his iconic, award-winning map of the U.S. was called “the greatest paper map of the United States” by Slate. It also drops a bit of news: Imus is working on a new edition of his map, which will see a limited release in November before the regular version is published in 2019. [Gretchen Peterson]
This is a map of the United States without insets. Published in 1975 by the U.S. Geological Survey, it shows Alaska, Hawaii and the lower 48 states in the same, continuous view—though Hawaii’s Leeward Islands are cut off (as are the various territories). Can’t have everything, I guess. It’s available from the USGS as a free downloadable PDF; the paper version costs $9. [MapPorn]
Previously: Alaska’s Cartographic Revenge.
The Washington Post is mapping the locations where migrant children are being detained, and is asking for reader submissions to update the map. [Kaz Weida]
I believe other maps of detained children are being produced; I’ll post links as I learn of them.
Puerto Ricans, as U.S. citizens, are able to travel freely between Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, many of them sought refuge in Florida, New York and other parts of the U.S. Using anonymized cell phone location data for some 500,000 smart phones, data analysis firm Teralytics was able to map where Puerto Ricans moved from August 2017 to February 2018. CityLab has the maps and the story: “Between these months, nearly 6 percent of the Puerto Rican population left the island and is still living in the continental U.S. Another 6 percent left between October and September 2017 but returned to the island by February 2018.”
John Nelson’s map of tornado migration in the United States, showing the seasonal variations in tornado occurrence, is a master class in data visualization and design—in deciding on the right way to present geographic information. The map combines three styles—impressionistic choropleth, weighted mean centre movement diagram, and small multiple—to present month-by-month information all at once; in the accompanying text (also here), Nelson discusses some of the alternatives he could have chosen instead. And in a separate post he talks about how he made the map. [Esri]
Previously: Mapping Tornado Tracks.
As promised, Kenneth Field has uploaded the final web version of the quick-and-dirty dasymetric dot density map of the 2016 U.S. presidential election results, which he posted to Twitter last month. Unlike the quick-and-dirty version, the final version is in high resolution and can be zoomed in to quite a preposterous degree. One dot, one vote. [Kenneth Field]
In February the FCC released a new broadband map showing the availability of high-speed internet in the United States. The previous map was apparently useless, but the new map has been coming in for its share of criticism as well because it doesn’t match the reality on the ground. Partly it’s because the map shows the number of internet providers providing service by census block whereas actual availability is more granular than that. But only partly. Techdirt’s Karl Bode says both old and new versions of the map “all-but hallucinate available options out of whole cloth while vastly over-stating the speeds available to American consumers”:
For example, I can only get access to one ISP (Comcast) at my residence in Seattle, purportedly one of the nation’s technology leaders. Yet the FCC’s new map informs me I have seven broadband options available to me. Two of these options, CenturyLink DSL and CenturyLink fiber are somehow counted twice despite neither actually being available. Three others are satellite broadband service whose high prices, high latency and low caps make them unsuitable as a real broadband option. The seventh is a fixed-wireless option that doesn’t actually serve my address.