Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mapping Municipal Inequity

The Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities uses GIS map overlays to demonstrate patterns of municipal discrimination against minority and low income residents. They began working in North Carolina with neighborhoods that were either targeted with undesirable projects such as highway bypasses or were ignored when building water or sewer services.

The map below is from Moore County in south central North Carolina. The brown area is Jackson Hamlet, a predominantly African American community. The red lines show the boundaries of the affluent golfing and retirement communities of Aberdeen, Pinehurst and Southern Pines. The dark lines are sewer mains.

Jackson Hamlet is surrounded but excluded from these areas meaning that they do not have sewer or garbage service from any of those towns and must rely on the county sheriff for police protection, rather than on the closer municipal police stations.

While the three towns have annexed land in other directions, they have all avoided Jackson Hamlet and demographically similar communities. The residents of these places have relied on septic systems, private trash haulers and/or burning garbage while in some cases watching the garbage trucks cut through their streets to get to the neighboring, more affluent towns.

In recent years the Institute has expanded its work nationwide. They helped residents outside of Zanesville, Ohio win almost $11 million in damages for years of unsuccessful requests for municipal water service. While the city expanded water service to newer, further away developments, African American residents in the Coal Run neighborhood were required to haul water from the water plant or pump it from contaminated wells.

This map shows how water lines were built to specifically serve the white residents of the neighborhood and played a vital role in the settlement.

The images above and some of the material came from an excellent article in Miller-McCune.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cigarette Card Maps

Cigarette manufacturers began including cards in their packages in the mid to late 1800's. Issuing cards in a series enticed buyers to stick with the same brand. The cards showed popular actors, sports figures, animals, plants and a host of other subjects including maps.

The New York Public Library has a large collection of these cards viewable from their Digital Gallery.

Churchman's Cigarettes produced a "How to Make a Map" series for boy scouts. Here are some of their cards with the text that appears on the back.

 "Scouts should first practice observation, and notice all the landmarks (such as hills, churches, trees, rocks, gates and bridges), so that, if necessary, they may draw an accurate map of the surrounding country. The four points of the compass should always be put in, and it is a very great convenience when a map can be, as nearly as possible, drawn to scale."

"It is a difficult matter for a scout to accurately draw a map of water, This, however needs only a little practice and a perfect knowledge of the different signs agreed upon to represent the different boats. The specimen given at the recto is a very good one, showing a very complete map of a village in the vicinity of water. The letters P. T. signify that the village possesses both post and telegraph office."

Gallagher, LTD also issued a "How to Make a Map" card. Here is the front and back of the card.

Map Reading Class was also a card subject.

Some cards depicted airline routes. Here is the route from England to South Africa.

Finally, a "Map of London and the Home Counties" was cut into pieces to be collected and reassembled. Here are two matching pieces.

No. 4. Digital ID: 1610435. New York Public LibraryNo. 3. Digital ID: 1610433. New York Public Library

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I am a Very Slow Reader-Part 2

I'm not only a slow reader, but slow to pick up on "new" things.
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet has been out for over a year but I only discovered it over the summer as one of the staff picks at the Maine Coast Bookshop.  Two things drew me in; one, the staff picks at this store have never let me down and two, it's a book about a cartographer!

The book is very enjoyable, however I find parts of it to be a bit of a reach. A 12 year old cartographer maybe, but one with such maturity and depth of knowledge (including an expertise in entomology) just seems a bit of a reach. Perhaps if Reif Larsen had made him 14 or 15 I might find this story easier to believe. The basic plot of the book is that a 12 year old prodigy who lives on a ranch in Montana named Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is invited to the Smithsonian, unknown to his parents, to accept an award for his scientific work. The book is illustrated with some beautiful maps and illustrations, apparently these were an afterthought to the book.

Here is his map of the ranch in Montana. I could not find the original image online so I took this German version (note the building names) from the Fischerverlage publishing site.

T. S. Spivet's obsession with diagramming everything he sees, from the way his sister shucks corn, to male pattern baldness is borderline annoying but it makes for some fun marginalia. The map that begins Chapter 10, shows a large U.S. City and slightly gives away a bit of plot ahead of time if you recognize this street pattern.

 Even if you don't recognize this place chances are very high that if you're riding a train across the country you will get there as will the plot. The image above is from the Boston Globe review.

Overall, this is a clever and unique book that is an entertaining read for anyone, regardless of your knowledge of cartography, entomology or male pattern baldness.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What is Map of the Week?

Today is the fifth anniversary of Map of the Week! Sort of. Actually it's more complicated than that as most things are. An exact anniversary date is tough to pin down so today is as good as any. Here's the boring history lesson:

Map of the Week started in or around 1993 when I shared a house in Lawrence, Kansas with fellow graduate student, frequent commenter and Renaissance blogger Michael5000. We started putting maps of the week on the kitchen wall (or maybe fridge I can't remember everything from those crazy college days.)  They were not exotic or special - just maps that we felt like posting and the practice didn't stick for very long because we had homework and life to attend to.

When I accepted a job in Seattle, a place I'd never been, I drew this mental map based on my limited knowledge and probably posted it as a final map of the week. The map suffers from the classic "figure ground" problem-the water looks like land and vice versa. The original is on yellow paper, printed on the back of a lost dog notice.

On occasion I would send Mr. 5000 maps in the US mail that I found to be noteworthy. Here is a map from a charity newsletter of a project they did in Moncton, New Brunswick. I clipped out the charity's name to spare them the embarrassment as they do some very good work.

The map is pretty tough to read from my poor copy but basically they didn't know where Moncton or New Brunswick were so they just plopped it right in the middle of the country. That's OK - Canada's a small place!

Years later (around 2004 or so) I decided to revive Map of the Week as a weekly e-mail with a map attached. Five years ago today I started keeping track of what map I posted on what date with an eye towards a possible blog. I finally created the blog in 2007 and began by back posting all my entries beginning October 5th, 2005. As of today the blog has reached over 150 countries!

Map of the Week will try to continue to bring a quality blog product every week, with the occasional extra map of the weekend or other special event. Map of the Week will not advertise your book, or map products but if something looks interesting, I may post it without the sales pitch. Thanks to all my readers for years of support!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Map of the Weekend-Your Fall Foliage Travel Guide

Looking for the prettiest leaves this weekend? The Foliage Network has you covered - some of the country anyway. They have a network of spotters to help them construct maps like this:

Or this one if you're more of a midwestern type of leaf peeper:

They also have the southeast but there's not much to report there yet. In the Northeast elevation is a huge factor whereas in the flatter Midwest it's more about how far north you are - though maybe elevation accounts for the western slant of the moderate-high areas.

If you're going to Wisconsin, the state's tourism department has a nice interactive map where you can mouse over a county and get "color meter" scores from specific areas within.

Finally, I couldn't resist making an animation from the northeast reports to show the spread of color. Happy leaf travels!

NE Foliage Animation