Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mammoth Cave

Map of the Mammoth Cave: Accompanied with Notes - via Library of Congress
This is a remarkable map from 1835 (Doolittle & Munson, Cincinnati) showing the geographic view alongside diagrams of each section or "room". 
Different colors are used to differentiate the sections to help unify the section drawings with the map.
Here is the area under Mr. Gatewood's House, near the cave's mouth,
and the view from below.
The map includes a view of the mouth of the cave above the title block.
Here is the mouth on the map.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Goldfield, Nevada was a boom town. Gold was discovered there in 1902 and within a few years it became Nevada's largest town with about 20,000 people. As of the 2010 Census the population is now down to 268 - via Wikipedia. This map, on display at the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum, does a good job of conveying the chaos of the time.
Map courtesy of the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum
Here is a close-up showing some of the competing land claims.
Companies came from near and far to set up shop - including ones from Baltimore, Chicago, Utica and Tonopah. A directory of all the companies is so large it takes up both sides of the map.
Here is the downtown with its grid pattern.
The 1907 directory lists "Saloons 49, Restaurants 27, Barber Shops 15, Bakeries 6, Assayers 54, Attorneys 84 (try finding one of those around here today). Brokers 162, Cigar Stores 14, Grocers 21. Hotels 22, Laundries 17. Doctors 40 (another hard group to come by), Undertakers 10 (they’d be the last ones to let you down)." - via Goldfield Historical Society. There was also plenty of labor unrest.

The U.S. Geological Survey "Goldfield Special Map" from 1908 also conveys a sense of chaos.
From the Perry-Castaneda Library - University of Texas
A 1907 railroad map of Nevada details the new routes through Goldfield.

By 1910 the population had already declined because the high cost of pumping out brine was making mining less economically feasible. A flood in 1913 and fires in 1923 and 1924 sealed the town's fate as a (partial) ghost town. 

Today Goldfield contains a handful of streets and businesses. Google Maps gives a sense of the town's layout, including some empty streets as well as attractions including the International Car Forest,
and the Historic Cemetery.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Awakening

The Awakening, a cartoon by Henry Mayer about women's suffrage was published in 1915 in Puck Magazine. It shows liberty marching across the nation from the west to the east.,_The_Awakening,_1915_Cornell_CUL_PJM_1176_01_-_Restoration.jpg
The western states (in white) had all granted women the vote, while the rest of the country was "in the dark" waiting for the march of freedom, which finally came in 1919 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Although New Jersey briefly allowed women the right to vote shortly after the founding of the country, it was the west where the right to vote was first permanently established. Wyoming was the first state to pass a law explicitly giving women the right to vote in 1869. Utah, Idaho and Colorado followed and by 1915 there was a clear geographical pattern.,_1920.svg
The map above shows the state of women's suffrage laws just before adoption of the Amendment. The color scheme is complicated but dark blue is full suffrage and then the colors go through various levels of partial suffrage until red, which is no suffrage. The legend can be seen by clicking the image above.

The 19th Amendment passed the House of Representatives in May, 1919 and the Senate the following month. By August, 1920 enough states had ratified it to add it to the Constitution, however some  southern states did not ratify it for decades afterwards. Mississippi was the last state to ratify it - in 1984.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sinking Miami

I recently watched the PBS documentary Sinking Cities: Miami. One thing that jumped out at me was this map. I could not find this version (from about 1835) online but here is a screen shot from about 20:45 in.
Basically the entire Miami area, except for a few spots along the coast, and the rest of soutrhern Florida was part of the Everglades swamp. Here is an 1856 version of the same map - via the Florida Center for Instructional Technology.
The map can be browsed at the Newberry Library. Here is the Miami area (Fort Dallas) - a few uplands (listed as the Koontee and Hunting Grounds) surrounded by swamp.
By draining large parts of the Everglades, the city's developers have been able to create vast tracts of habitable and desirable land in these former swamps. However, sea level rise is starting to create problems from nuisance flooding (even on sunny days high tides can push up the ground water and cause flooding) to large scale storm destruction. This map, from National Geographic via Catalyst Miami shows areas that would be under water at high tide with a 5 foot sea level rise* and flood prone urban areas (in darker blue).

Here is a more readable close up of the Miami area.

One result of the recent increase in flooding has been climate gentrification. People are buying houses in formerly poor areas such as Little Haiti, away from the water that are on higher ground. The wealthiest can afford to engineer adaptations to rising sea levels but others are at a high risk of their homes becoming uninhabitable. These people can't as readily move and even if they could there are few affordable options for them.

This map via The New Tropic shows the Little Haiti area annotated with elevations above sea level. The heart of Little Haiti is between NE 2nd Ave and NW 2nd Ave. The author tries to determine how much gentrification is climate related but with many other factors involved ultimately is not able to draw a conclusion. However, the map does show why these areas would be desirable to those moving from further east (or even west where elevations are also lower).
* predictions for sea level rise range from about 1 to 3 feet by 2100 - more here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Range of the German 80-Mile Gun

This map, via Project Gutenberg, shows the battle lines of April 10, 1918 and the areas of France and Britain that could be reached by the German guns that had been used used to shell Paris a few weeks previously.
The map is from The Story of the Great War. This quote provides context.

"The Germans sprung a new form of frightfulness on the Allies when at 8 o'clock in the morning of March 23, 1918, they bombarded Paris with long-range guns. At intervals of about twenty minutes shells of 240 millimeters (about 9.5 inches) reached the capital, killing ten persons and wounding others. The shortest distance from Paris to the front was over sixty-two miles. The first daylight aeroplane raid followed this bombardment, but did little damage. Public interest was centered on the mysterious gun that could drop shells on the city from such a great distance. Pieces of shells examined were found to bear rifling marks showing that they had not been dropped, but were fired from some kind of gun. Later the French located several of these "mystery guns," and some were destroyed. The only purpose they could serve was to terrify the people of Paris, otherwise they were of no military importance."
Here's a zoomed in view to better appreciate the details.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Map that Claimed the West

In 1816 mapmaker John Melish drew the first coast to coast map of the United States.
Map courtesy of the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
By extending this map all the way to the Pacific, he implicitly laid claim to these lands for the United States. At the time there were competing claims in the west between the United States, Great Britain and Spain. In his own words "part of this territory unquestionably belongs to the United States." Map it and it is yours. The power of the map's claim was such that it was used in future treaty negotiations between the United States and the European powers.

I had a chance to look at and photograph this map up close at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla.

Melish had the benefit of information from Lewis and Clark's recent expedition to fill in many details. Here rivers with fancy names like Philosophy (Willow Creek) and Philanthropy (Ruby River) make their way to the Jefferson and eventually Missouri Rivers.
Photo taken at the Map &Atlas Museum of La Jolla
Sometimes the details are a bit exaggerated.
Photo taken at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla

Here are some very detailed annotations along the Illinois-Iowa (Missouri Territory at the time) section of the Mississippi River.
Photo taken at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
In addition to the map's historical significance there are various other cartographic curiosities such as the incorrectly angled Lake Michigan, missing Illinois completely and putting Michigan on a diet.
Chicago's there, just in the wrong state.
Here is another curiosity
A theorized link to San Francisco Bay via the Rio Buenaventura (Green River in Utah) - here is a zoomed out look.

The entire map can be browsed at World Digital Library

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

La Jolla Map Museum - Maps of Historical Interest

Last month I visited the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla. They have an impressively large collection of original maps and many of them are of significant historical importance.

For example, here is one of the earliest recorded maps - baked onto a clay tablet.
Photo taken at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
It shows a parcel of land with ownership and dimensions in cuneiform. On the back are field measurements. This could be a legal document or may have been used as a teaching tool for surveying.

Here is a world map by Antonio Floriano (ca. 1555) using polar projections from the north and south poles. I took most of the following pictures on a phone so try to ignore the glare and reflections. Where possible I will provide links to better images online.

Photos taken at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla

Each hemisphere is divided into 36 globe gores and therefore it was likely to have been designed for making globes. A better image can be found at The Vintage Map Shop. Here is some detail from the eastern Mediterranean.

A very different world map from a similar era (1581) is Heinrich B√ľnting's World Map.
Photo taken at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
This is a figurative map meant to represent biblical geography with the cloverleaf shape possibly reflecting the Trinity. A colored version can be seen here.

Leo Belgicus maps.
An example of a Leo Belgicus via Wikipedia
These maps represent the "Low Countries" of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg as a lion, partially because the most of the provinces of these countries featured lions on their coats of arms. I did not get a photo of the whole map so I used an online example above. I did, however get a nice detailed close up.
Photo taken at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
I love the way the Rhine and Meuse Rivers flow over the paw like blood vessels. The paw scratching at "Colln" (Cologne) is a nice touch.

Here is a detail from Map of the Caribbean (Spanish Main) by Peter Martyr, 1511. Martyr was a friend to Columbus and the other explorers of the era. This is the first printed map devoted to the Americas. Martyr was also the first to have used the concept of a "western hemisphere" though he was not sure whether the mainland areas of South America were attached to India or not. Derived from confidential Spanish sources, it was very accurate for the time and also may have landed him in some trouble. The same year, King Ferdinand outlawed giving maps to foreigners.
Photo taken at the Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
I love the exaggerated detail of the coastlines.

More to come in a future post - stay tuned!