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The Map Room - A Weblog about Maps

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A weblog about maps
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The Stolen Champlain Map’s Return to the Boston Public Library

mar 09-02-2016

After Forbes Smiley was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for stealing nearly 100 maps from a number of different libraries, and maps were returned to the libraries he stole them from, there were still some missing pieces to the puzzle. There were maps in Smiley’s possession that had not been claimed; there were maps missing from libraries that Smiley did not admit to stealing, though he was recorded as the last person to see the map before it went missing.

Several institutions, including Yale, Harvard, the New York Public Library and the Boston Public Library, published lists of their missing maps. First on the BPL’s list was a copy of the Carte géographique de la Nouvelle-France, a map of northeastern North America compiled in 1612 by Samuel de Champlain. (Harvard was also missing a copy of the same map; when one example hit the auction block in 2008 there was some question of it being Harvard’s, but it turned out not to be so.)

Last year, though, the BPL caught a break. A copy of the Champlain map turned up in an antique dealer’s catalogue with identifying marks that matched a digital image of the map made by the BPL in 1992. After some wrangling, the dealer, who’d priced the map at $285,000, returned the map to the library. The news broke last December: read the Boston Globe story and the BPL’s media release.

Since then it’s been on display at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Central Library in Copley Square. It’ll be there through this month (the 29th according to the website, the 19th according this tweet) so you’ve got until then to have a look for yourself.

During The Map Room’s first iteration I posted 112 blog entries about map thefts, more than half of which were about the Forbes Smiley affair. For a book-length account of the Smiley case, read The Map Thief by Michael Blanding, which I reviewed when it came out. Amazon (Canada, U.K.) | iBooks (audiobook)

 

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Metroid Metro: Video Games Mapped Like Subways

mar 09-02-2016

Take a map from a popular Nintendo video game. Draw it in the style of a familiar transit map. That’s what Matt Stevenson has done here, with a half-dozen or so maps from Final FantasyMetroidZelda and other games done in the style of metro system maps from Washington, New York and other cities. Available for sale as posters. [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Mapping Swiss German Dialects

mar 09-02-2016

Researchers are mapping the shift in Swiss German dialect usage via an iOS app. The app asks users to take a 16-question survey based on maps from a language atlas that mapped Swiss German usage circa 1950. The app predicts the user’s actual home dialect location based on those maps; differences between that prediction and the user’s actual home dialect location reveal how Swiss German has changed over time. They ended up getting responses from 60,000 speakers. PLOS ONE article. [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Walking and Mapping

mar 09-02-2016

The paperback edition of Karen O’Rourke’s Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers (MIT Press, 2013) comes out this week. From the publisher: “In Walking and Mapping, Karen O’Rourke explores a series of walking/mapping projects by contemporary artists. She offers close readings of these projects—many of which she was able to experience firsthand—and situates them in relation to landmark works from the past half-century. Together, they form a new entity, a dynamic whole greater than the sum of its parts.” [viaBuy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

GPS and the First Gulf War

lun 08-02-2016

Scientific American on how the U.S. military used GPS during the first Gulf War in 1991—the first war in which GPS played a major role. “GPS would change warfare and soon became an indispensible asset for adventurers, athletes and commuters as well. The navigation system has become so ubiquitous, in fact, that the Pentagon has come full circle and is investing tens of millions of dollars to help the military overcome its heavy dependence on the technology.”

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Weekend Read: Denis Wood

sam 06-02-2016

Inverse has an interview with iconoclastic cartographer Denis Wood, in which he is as thought-provoking as ever (e.g., “Maps are arguments about the way we think the world should be or could be. They are arguments made in graphic form.”). [via]

Not mentioned in the interview—but mentioned in this 2014 Wired piece and in Unmappable, a short documentary about Wood that is currently making the rounds of the film festival circuit—is Wood’s 1996 conviction for sex with a minor and subsequent prison term, a fact that is public but not necessarily talked about openly (despite blogging frequently about his work, I only learned about it through the Wired piece) and makes discussing Wood and his work rather complicated: mention the fact and it overshadows, fail to mention it and it’s conspicuous by its absence. Either way, ignoring Wood is difficult.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Weekend Read: ‘You Are Here’

sam 06-02-2016

Oftentimes in Japan, I had no idea where I was going. The moments when I did felt like a perfect alignment of puzzle pieces that made the in-betweens worth it. I imagined myself like those ancient cartographers, trying to make sense of the jumble of crepes and onigiri, shrines and skyscrapers, neon and origami. I made my own maps, rewriting them over the ones I had hastily constructed on the flight over. I began to understand how mapping a place, even sketchily, can feel like owning a piece of it.

Emma Talkoff writes in the Harvard Crimson’s Fifteen Minutes magazine about her encounters with maps new and old during her time in Japan. [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Weekend Read: Eric Rodenbeck on His Favourite Maps

sam 06-02-2016

Over on The Atlantic‘s CityLab, Stamen Design founder Eric Rodenbeck talks about some of his favourite maps. It’s a diverse list that includes a modern cartogram and an old postcard, a fantasy map and the first Google Maps mashup. [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Bailey Henderson’s Sea Monster Sculptures

ven 05-02-2016

Sea monsters are a familiar feature of early modern European maps. Toronto-based sculptor Bailey Henderson has rendered them in real life, casting them in bronze and then painting them. It’s incredible work that really does evoke the original. More details at Hi-Fructose magazine. [via]

For more sea monsters on maps, see my review of Chet Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps. You should also be aware that #MapMonsterMonday is a thing on Twitter.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Judgmental Maps

ven 05-02-2016

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]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Cartographic Summit

ven 05-02-2016

Esri and the International Cartographic Association are hosting the Cartographic Summit: Future of Mapping, which takes place next week, 8-10 February, at Esri headquarters in Redland, California. It looks like the sessions will be streamed online. [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The State of the Middle East Atlas

ven 05-02-2016

I feel a little embarrassed by my constant linking to Geographical magazine’s book reviews, but they point to books, particularly British books, that I otherwise hadn’t heard of—such as Dan Smith’s State of the Middle East Atlas (New Internationalist, November 2015), the third edition of which was just published. From Laura Cole’s review: “[T]he atlas has been revised with new analyses of the region since the Arab Spring began in 2011 as well as the latest on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the refugee crisis and foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria. Smith, cartographer and director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, has kept up with the compelling changes and complicated dynamics of Middle Eastern politics.” Buy at Amazon U.K.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Mapping Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

ven 05-02-2016

In a blog post, Bradley Beaulieu describes how he worked with artist Maxime Plasse on the map for his fantasy novel Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (published in the U.K. as Twelve Kings). “There’s been a lot of back and forth to get things from my very rough starting point to the final version, so I thought I’d share some of it to give you a sense for how the process typically works.” I am, as you know, a sucker for process; Beaulieu takes us from his own map, which he generated with Fractal Terrains and Campaign Cartographer, to Plasse’s final, full-colour map (above). [via]

Twelve Kings in SharakhaiAmazon (Canada, U.K.) | iBooks (U.K. edition)

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Layers of London

mer 03-02-2016

Meanwhile, and speaking of georectified map viewers, a project to create a multi-layered online map of London, with maps from the 17th century onward georectified and available through a single interface, has received development funding from the Heritage Lottery. Work on Layers of London, as it will be called, will begin in May. Londonist, IHR, MOLA.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Georeferenced Historic Maps

mer 03-02-2016

The National Library of Scotland has an online map viewer that overlays georeferenced old maps atop a modern web map interface (Bing, I believe). Among my crowd, it’s the various 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of London that generate the most excitement, though there are plenty of other locales (mostly but not exclusively in the U.K.) and time periods.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Redrawing the London Tube Map

mer 03-02-2016

Designer Cameron Booth wondered whether London’s Tube Map could simply be drawn better. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the current iteration of the Tube Map is a diagram that’s almost completely forgotten that it is one. There’s very little rhythm, balance or flow to the composition of the map outside the central ‘thermos flask’, and there’s shockingly little use of a underlying unifying grid. As a result, nothing really aligns properly with anything else anymore.” His solution included getting rid of fare zones, redrawing accessibility icons, rejigging alignments, and lots of other changes. Read his post and his follow-up post for the end result (or results: he’s continuing to refine the map).

Previously: INAT London Metro MapA Geographically Accurate Tube Map.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

World Population Growth

mer 03-02-2016

The population of the world from 1 CE/AD through the end of the 21st century (projected) is mapped in this video and interactive map from Population Connection, a group concerned with the carrying capacity of the planet and the environmental impact of overpopulation (they used to be Zero Population Growth back in the day). In each, one dot represents one million people. [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Why Children Still Need to Read Maps

mer 03-02-2016

“While many skills have become obsolete in the digital age, map reading remains an important tool for building children’s spatial reasoning skills and helping them make sense of our world,” writes Deborah Farmer Kris on the PBS Parents website. [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Mapping Gentrification

mer 03-02-2016

Governing used interactive maps to measure the gentrification of the neighbourhoods of Boston (above) and 49 other cities as part of their report on gentrification in the United States last year. “While it has become much more prevalent, gentrification remains a phenomenon largely confined to select regions, not yet making its way into most urban areas. In the majority of cities reviewed, less than one-fifth of poorer, lower priced neighborhoods experienced gentrification. If all city neighborhoods are considered—including wealthier areas not eligible to gentrify—less than one of every ten tracts gentrified. Cities like Detroit, El Paso and Las Vegas experienced practically no gentrification at all.” [via]

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Best Maps from the Journal of Maps

mer 03-02-2016

Since 2008 the online Journal of Maps has been giving an award to the “best map” published in its virtual pages; 2015’s winner is a map of municipalities in the Czech Republic created by Vít Pászto, Alžběta Brychtová, Pavel Tuček, Lukáš Marek and Jaroslav Burian for their article “Using a fuzzy inference system to delimit rural and urban municipalities in the Czech republic in 2010.” Past winners are available for purchase as prints (of various sizes). [via]

The Journal of Maps launched in 2005. I believe it was open-access at that point; since coming under the umbrella of Taylor & Francis in 2012, it no longer appears to be.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones