Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Geography of Partisan Prejudice

A recent article in The Atlantic features a set of maps showing where in the United States people show more or less prejudice towards people from other political parties.

The map is based on a survey with questions like how would you feel about a close family member marrying a Democrat or Republican. Darker areas are places where prejudicial feelings are higher. "In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves." These people tend to be more politically isolated-less likely to talk to people who disagree with them and more likely to assume the other side is more extreme than they are.

Hover over a county to get percentile information.
What is really interesting is the state to state variability. Compare the Carolinas to each other-or the Dakotas. Some of this may be due to specific statewide factors such as a recent controversial statewide election. There are also maps for each political party's level of prejudice.
The chief takeaway seems to be that people living in certain areas, such as small towns, associate more with other who have different opinions and are better able to see their humanity, if not better understand their point of view. I work with lots of people who have very different opinions than me and sometimes we talk about politics but rarely because they're dumb, awful people who hate America - #justkidding.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Equal Earth

Equal Earth is a new map projection introduced this past fall. It aims to solve the problem of showing countries at their true sizes projected from a spheroid to a flat piece of paper. The most commonly used world projection is the Mercator, great for navigating but terrible for distorting relative landmass sizes - here's an example.
By contrast here is the Equal Earth Projection.
In addition to the comically monstrous Antarctica, the commonly cited comparison is Greenland vs. South America. Of course many of us in the upper latitudes like the Mercator because it makes our countries look larger and therefore more important. It also makes Russia look scary.
 from The Growth of Russian Imperialism - Cornell digital library.
The problem is that people's perceptions of country and continent sizes once formed are hard to shake. This problem has been amplified by Google's use of Mercator in their maps. Google Maps is so popular that they have created a de-facto standard that most other digital world maps have followed.

One remedy to showing such unequal areas has been to promote the Gall-Peters projection, a rather ugly (my opinion) projection that cartographer Arthur Robinson described as continents that look like wet laundry hung out to dry.
The Boston Public Schools recently began using these maps in their classrooms. As a response Bojan Šavrič (Esri), Tom Patterson (US National Park Service), and Bernhard Jenny (Monash University) developed this new projection. It is based on Arthur Robinson's projection. Here are comparisons of the Equal Area Projection with Gall-Peters,
and with the Robinson Projection.
The projection has been very well received and is already being used by organizations such as NASA. and major GIS software companies.

In addition to the projection, they also created some very attractive, downloadable world maps designed for classroom use. These maps have three versions, one centered on 0 degrees longitude for best viewing Europe and Africa, one at 90 degrees west for the Americas and one at 150 east for East Asia, Australia and the Pacific.
There are two versions, a Political map,
and a Physical Map

For the maps and more info visit their home page.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Traveling via the Green Book

The Green Book was a travel guide for African Americans published 1936 and 1966. The prevalent racism of the era necessitated a guide directing travelers to places they would be welcome. The New York Public Library (NYPL) Labs created an online tool where you can plan a trip from and to anywhere in the country using this resource. For example, here is a 1947 trip to Miami to Los Angeles.
You can choose a trip using the 1947 or 1956 edition of the book. Notice the (literal) lengths taken to avoid almost all of Texas. A click on the hotels and restaurants will take you to the corresponding page in the scanned book.
Curious about the avoiding Texas phenomenon I plotted some other routes that normally go through Texas (using the 1947 book). Here, a trip from Philadelphia to El Paso not only takes special pains to avoid Texas but also appears to be recommending avoiding El Paso completely and going to Tucson instead.
A New Orleans to Tucson trip follows almost the same route, veering way north in order to avoid Texas. Even traveling to central Texas using the 1947 book results in some obvious Texas avoidance. Here is Cleveland to San Antonio.
Using the 1956 book routes still avoid much of Texas but not as strenuously. The 1956 book has a much higher number of listings so that is probably the main reason for this though conditions for travelers may have also improved over this time period in Texas.

Plan your own trip here or view all of the green book data on a map here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Plan for a Canadian Attack on Russia, 1919

After World War I, many Allied troops remained in Russia to help anticommunist forces fight against the Bolsheviks. This map was made for Canadian troops to plan a February 1919 surprise attack on Segezha in the northwest corner of Russia.
The map shows terrain features, gun positions, firing ranges, bridges and buildings along with instructions such as "cut wires" and "stop communication between Station and Bridge." Some of the text is hard to read but here is a detail of the area around the bridge over the Segezha River.
Post-war public opinion turned against the Canadian Prime Minister and it was difficult for him to justify keeping troops overseas. Troops were gradually withdrawn from Russia and the planned attack was abandoned. - via Canadian Geographic

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cards Against Humanity Stops the Wall

Cards Against Humanity is a self-described "party game for horrible people." As a protest against a border wall that is by any objective standard an ineffective waste of huge sums of money, they have purchased a plot of land along the US-Mexico border and hope to delay construction by forcing a lengthy eminent domain case. Since the wall is "12th Century Technology" they have also purchased a trebuchet, a medieval device (not the font) for catapulting objects to destroy walls.

What does this have to do with maps? Well, they made one.
The map is filled with puns and some other strange things that I don't understand such as Smashmouth playing a concert in Mexico. You can also see the trebuchet doing some damage and people climbing over the wall with ladders.

More on the project here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Night Club Map of Harlem

This map was created in 1932 by E. Simms Campbell, the first nationally syndicated African-American illustrator in the United States. It appeared in the first issue of Manhattan Magazine, and was republished nine months later in Esquire.
The map features the most famous speakeasies and night clubs of Harlem (but not all of them as indicated in the title block below) during the Prohibition era.
For example "Gladys'" (Harry Hansberry's) Clam House where Gladys Bentley, who performed as a cross dressing lesbian, "wears a tuxedo and high hat and tickles the ivories."
The map is full of charming details such as "Seventh avenue or heaven", various famous personalities like Cab Calloway and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, an "actual size" picture of a "shorty" of gin, Harlem's "national drink" and this unique north arrow.
The map also takes some interesting cartographic liberties such compressing the blocks along Lenox Avenue in order to reach up to the Cotton Club. The numbered streets are also deliberately misaligned on either side of Seventh Ave in order to emphasize the important clubs. The blocks between 131st and 110th street are compressed to allow Central Park to be shown.
The map, along with additional details can be found here.  A full resolution version can be found here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Renaming Confederate Avenue(s)

Last week the City of Atlanta renamed Confederate and East Confederate Avenue to United Avenue. They also renamed a small street, Confederate Court as Trestletree Court.

Google and Apple Maps both responded quickly with the new names.

Over the years several streets with names honoring Confederate or Klan leaders have been changed. An article in CityLab includes this map showing streets that have been renamed in blue, recommended renamings in orange and other streets with Confederate names.
Renaming streets is expensive and can be controversial. From CityLab:
 "The proposal must be reviewed by the city’s urban design commission, then its public works department, then the utilities committee, and finally the city council. If you want to suggest naming a street after a living person, that person has to be at least 75 years old (No, Bobby Brown Parkway is not named after the King of R&B). Just to get started, the application fee is $2,500, which is compounded by the costs to the city for replacing the street signs if approved. Which is, yes, expensive."
Also not mentioned are the costs to the residents and businesses for stationery, signs and other change of address inconveniences. Along Confederate Avenue most residents wanted to rename the street. In the future the city will look into much thornier renaming situations. Streets like Walker and Bell have less obvious associations but they are also named for Confederate leaders.