Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Public Libraries of Massachusetts

Across the street from my office is a public library, where a copy of this map (circa 1904) hangs.
The library is a modern building so it is not on the map, but many of these libraries are still standing and in use today. That includes the Boston Public Library, shown on the bottom of the map, which houses the Norman B. Leventhal Center, which has this map in its digital collections.
The map beautifully illustrates each library. Above is the library in Arlington, near my house and also near the home of the map's author - "designed and drawn with pen and ink by George Hartnell Bartlett (author of 'Pen and Ink Drawing'). Arlington, Mass." 
So to recap, this map hangs in a library near my office but that library is not ON the map. It does show my (and the author's) home library which still looks the same except for an addition, and also shows the Boston library (which still looks the same except for an addition) where a copy of the map is located. So it's a circular thing. Now that we've cleared that up enjoy some classic old libraries from Worcester County.
The diversity of architectural styles is fun. Some of them are just mere Cape Cod style houses,
like this one, about as far from the Cape as you can get in the state. Others look like Greek temples or haunted houses.

Here's one from a town that no longer exists - it was flooded to create a reservoir so that when you visit the Leventhal Center, you can get a drink from the "bubbler" there.
The text at the bottom of the map reads
"A public library free to every man woman and child. Annual circulation three volumes to every inahbitant. 4,250,000 volumes. Annual circulation 9,000,000 volumes."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Beautiful Trash

Beautiful Trash is a pretty visualization of trash truck routes created using Tableau, a good example of creating maps with non-GIS software. A week's worth of GPS tracks from the City of Cincinnati are color coded by collection day.
The black background really makes the colors pop. The areas served by each day show up nicely. It appears that Friday is a kind of pick up the missed stuff day and has by far the most mileage. Hover over a route to see the truck number and coordinates. You can choose a day at the top to see in isolation - for example Wednesday.
Also when you choose your day a kind of summary route appears at the top which I don't quite understand.

Anyway kudos to Jeffrey Shaffer for turning trash into treasure.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Evolving Japanese World View

Japan is known for a history of resistance to western contact and influence. As a result their knowledge of the rest of the world was slow to develop. The earliest "world" maps produced in Japan were Buddhist maps (nansenbushu) using a combination of geography and mythology.
The map above shows only China, Japan and India [source]. These maps were scaled by religious importance, rather than by distance so the geography is almost unrecognizable. India, the center of the Buddhist world takes up most of the map.

The first nansenbushu to show the entire world was a 1710 woodblock print by monk Rokashi Hotan.
While still dominated by those three countries, this map shows various European countries as islands such as Holland (country of the red hair). Africa (Land of Western Women) and South America are shown as small islands while a piece of North America is connected to Asia by an Aleutian land bridge. By this time many western world maps had filtered into the country but these influences were either missed or were ignored by Hotan. Here is detailed look- the entire map can be browsed here.
Matteo Ricci was a missionary who learned Chinese and made a map of the world in the Chinese language, readable to some Japanese. This influenced the Bankoku-sozu map, the first western style world map created in Japan. The version below is centered on Japan, oriented with east up and contains pictures of various ethnic groups.
The image above is a screen shot from The Evolution of Japanese Cartography by Olivia McCaffrey.
Nagakubo Sekisui, considered the founder of Japanese geography, made the above world map largely based on Ricci's map in 1785. Each continent has its own color while the unexplored Antarctica has a bold red outline. Here's a detail showing Japan (in the center of the world) and Korea.
Here is North America. California is shown as a peninsula because this map predates the theory of it being an island.
The entire map can be browsed at Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc, along with some interesting historical details. For example, Nagakubo's omitted ridiculous, prejudicial notes from the Ricci map about Japan while keeping similar notes about other places such as Brazil. "The inhabitants of this country do not build houses. They dig the earth and live in caverns. They like to eat human flesh, however they only eat men and not women. Their clothes are made from birds feathers."

An 1834 map by Giko Yamazaki drawn as a sphere - via the Ephemera Assemblyman blog - this page contains many other maps from this era. California has now gained its status as an island.
Here is a map by an unknown cartographer via All That is Interesting from 1853, just when Japan was being forced to open itself up to foreign trade. The geography is improving noticeably.
Finally, a Japanese World Map circa 1933 by mangaka (cartoon artist) Keizo Shimada.
The "cultural vignettes" are mostly benign, if a bit stereotypical, but the map also gives a sense of Japan's imperial  and military ambitions. Some detailed views-via eBay.
Here is Washington and British Columbia.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Iceland in Maps

A few days ago I was in Iceland. They like their maps there. Here are some examples.
They post maps along the side of the roads and where entering towns. Above is one near the Þingvellir National Park. The one below, in Stokkseyri, shows the extent of the largest lava flow on earth (since the ice age) - stopped finally by the ocean.
A 3D model of the Snæfellsness peninsula in the visitors center at Snæfellsjökull National Park.
Monument to Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth - the book's descent begins at the volcano above,
but the nearby monument has a hole (next to the wooden pole) where you can start digging. The sign below lists distances through the earth - the second distance is along the surface.
A map of the continental plates at the Bridge Between Continents near the Keflavik airport.
The bridge crosses a chasm formed by the separation of the plates. The rock walls on either side are the two continental plates.
Of course, I also accumulated many paper maps. Here was our most used map - the Islandskort series from Fixlanda.
Geothermal pools in the Reykjavik area.
Finally, here is a beautifully detailed map from Iceland's Geodætisk Institut that I bought at the Reykjavik Flea Market. The map is dated 1990 but the survey date is 1920.
I have lots of great scenery pictures too but the maps are the real highlights.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Update to the last post

I'm having technical difficulties on the road so here's an update via Twitter

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

This Map of Iceland Has it All!

This map of Iceland*, part of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum** by Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius has all kinds of interesting stuff going on.
From wonderfully detailed volcanoes,
to fantastic sea creatures with descriptions in the text keyed to letters.
This description is from a listing on Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps. Some versions of this map have the letters next to them and some do not.
H. The largest kind of Whale, which seldom shows itself. It is more like a small island than like a fish. It cannot follow or chase smaller fish because of its huge size and the weight of its body, yet it preys on many, which it catches by natural cunning and subtlety which it applies to get its food.
This map includes an early explanation of how polar bears arrived, drifting on sea ice.

In the right of this image are tree trunks that after some violent storms have been "torn off by their roots from the cliffs of Norway, tossed to and fro, and surviving many storms, finally cast upon and coming to rest at this shore."
The title block - differently colored in different versions.
In the lower right is a dedication to the "Illustrious and powerful Frederic the Second, King of the Danes, Norwegians, Slavs, Goths etc., his most merciful Majesty."
The level of detail of this map indicates that although it is credited to Ortelius it was probably drawn by an Icelander, most likely Gudbrandur Thorlaksson who mapped the island in the early 1600s. His list of churches and fjords was used and there is much local knowledge that is unlikely to have come from Ortelius.

There are several versions of the map online, the images above are from the following:

Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps - this page has the translations I used and some good historical context.



*Where I am currently staying.
** "Theatre of the World" - considered to be the first modern world atlas.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Canadian Checkerboard - Part 3

Here is my final Canadian Homesteading map. Moose Jaw Land District.
It is not as colorful as the Northern Alberta map but is similarly effusive about the quality of the land.
Like the previous map each grid cell is a square mile section.
There is not much topographic change here so the "mountains" really stand out.
This map was accompanied by a Saskatchewan Railway Guide
One of the interesting things about this is the ads along the edge for sheaf loaders, livestock brokers, mattresses and overalls.

The back of the map has a yellow detailed map showing ownership of quarter sections around Hodgeville. 
 The apparent purpose of this map is to advertise gopher poison.
 "$276,000 worth of grain sown on the land in this map was destroyed by gophers. My own Gopher Poison will save this year's crop. Get a package either from your council or dealer. Cheapest poison obtianable when you count results. Made only by ANTON MICHELSON COMPANY, Ltd, Winnipeg."