Thursday, August 29, 2013

Older Oldest Globe to Show the Americas

The discovery of the oldest globe to show the New World was announced last week by the Washington Map Society.

The globe was extensively analyzed, x-rayed, carbon dated and ink tested to prove its date of origin and provenace.

Some quotes from the announcement:
The previously-unknown globe, which is about the size of a grapefruit, was made from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs, and dates from the very early 1500s.   Until now, it was thought that the oldest globe to show the New World was the “Lenox Globe” at the New York Public Library, but the author presents evidence that this Renaissance ostrich egg globe was actually used to cast the copper Lenox globe, putting its date c. 1504.

The globe contains ships of different types, monsters, intertwining waves, a shipwrecked sailor, and  71 place names, and one sentence , “HIC SVNT DRACONES” (Here are the Dragons).  Only 7 of the names are in the Western Hemisphere.  No names are shown for North America, which is represented as a group of scattered islands; three names are shown in South America   (Mundus Novus or “New World”, Terra de Brazil, and Terra Sanctae Crucis, or”Land of the Holy Cross”).  For many countries and territories in the world, (e.g. Japan, Brazil, Arabia) this is the oldest known engraved depiction on a globe.  
It's a tired cliche that every author who writes about cartography invokes the "here be dragons" thing. Still I like that it appears on this globe. I also like ostrich eggs as a medium.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Corporate States and Booze States

A couple of months ago graphic designer Steve Lovelace posted this map of the Corporate States of America, subjectively showing the corporation that best represents each state.
There's a list at the bottom of his page so you can figure out the tiny states -  Rhode Island is Hasbro and Delaware is DuPont. The two things that are most interesting to me are that Wyoming is represented by a taco chain and that Starbucks trumps Microsoft.

Thrillist followed up with a booze map.

The map is said to represent the "biggest/most high profile liquor or beer companies" for each state. It's not clear how subjective these choices are but most of them are breweries. As someone that lives in the Northeast and drinks a variety of beer, I've never even heard of many of these nearby breweries such as Willimantic (Connecticut) and Hill Farmstead (Vermont.) Again the tiny states are tough to read but Delaware is Dogfish Head and Rhode Island is probably Narragansett because what else would Rhode Island be?

Who knew that Vodka was so big in the Southeast? Well, I didn't anyway. Also, I like the name of Oklahoma's beer! A little regional feud? 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Health of Metropolitan Areas

The American Fitness Index (AFI) is a program of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) developed to "provide an evidence- and science-based measurement of the state of health and fitness at the community level throughout the U.S." They have created an interactive map of the 50 largest US metropolitan areas showing their rank from most to least healthy.

The map above shows the overall rankings but you can also see different sets of rankings for personal health (percent with asthma, diabetes, etc.) or community health indicators such as access to recreation areas. The categories used for this study are somewhat subjective so if you're from Oklahoma City (last place) you can find reasons to rip the study apart while Minneapolitans (#1!) praise it.

You can click a city to see its "strengths and challenges."
 Some interesting facts include Cincinnati, ranked 13th overall but #1 in community health and #38 in personal health. The indicators show that while they have lots of parks, recreation opportunities and farmers markets they also have higher rates of obesity and other medical conditions and less than ideal eating, smoking and commuting habits.

The map is fairly crude with some bizarre shadings that vaguely hint at the patterns of the data (lighter colors in the north, darker in the south and lower midwest) and some of the city locations are pretty bad. Also, Kansas City comes up as being in Kansas (which it is) when you click the map but Missouri (which it also is) in the indicators window. This is somewhat sloppy cartography but not enough to earn a "bad maps" label.

Monday, August 12, 2013


For decades there's been a trend of locating airports increasingly further from the cities they serve. Buffalo has embraced this trend in unprecedented fashion according to Megabus Canada. Their airport is so far away its practically in Syracuse, almost 150 miles away!
OK - the map is a schematic and many of the other locations are inaccurate to add clarity but this is pretty bad!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Song Maps

Two years ago I did a couple of blog posts about Maps on Album Covers. Last year the British band Saint Etienne came out with this album cover for the somewhat unimaginatively named "Words and Music by Saint Etienne"
The band was taken with the Dorothy art studio's Music Map (below) and asked them to make a special edition for their cover.
Band members chose the song titles for the Saint Etienne edition. The map is loosely based on Croydon, where the band is from. Cyprus Avenue is the Croydon Flyover and Ventura Highway is Wellesley Road. The album cover does not show the full map and this detailed image from Dorothy shows an area that is mostly not on the cover. I don't have the CD so I don't know if the rest of the map appears in the album's artwork.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Highlights from Winterthur

Last week I went down to Delaware to see the Common Destinations exhibit at Winterthur. The exhibit is modestly sized but is an impressive collection of maps and related objects. I spent long enough in the gallery to cause my relatives to wonder about my sanity. The staff allows photography so I took pictures of some of the highlights.
This is a detail from "A chart of the Antilles, or Charibbee, or Caribs Islands, with the Virgin Isles" by Louis Delarochette from 1784. I like the elevation profiles of the various islands. Not a common feature on maps but this must have been pretty helpful to navigators.
Here is a map of the western hemisphere with the countries outlined in embroidery. The needlework was done by Mary Franklin of Pleasant valley, New York. The full map can be seen here.
 Here is a detail from the "Plan of the City of Philadelphia and Environs" (Varle, 1802) showing some proposed squares in "West Ville" that were never developed. These include a Market Square along the Schuylkill River and Washington Square (the square now known as Washington Square was originally called Southeast Square.) 
 The scale is in Perches, an old unit similar to a rod.
From the 1861 "Washington Map of the United States" by Maury. This is a large wall map with the counties colored. I like how in Texas and other plains states the counties end abruptly near the 100th meridian.
I was not able to take a good picture of this one but here's a highly detailed 1777 chart of Narragansett Bay - the image is from Martayan Lan, an antique map, globe and book dealer. 
For my own personal interest here's a map of Albany, where I went to school and also lived for a while. The map is not dated but is from the later 1800's and is credited to "Charles Magnus lith. New York." Washington Park was just a small square then. The Albany Medical center area was "Alms House Square" and there was a railroad ferry crossing the Hudson from "East Albany."
Finally, the fan from the promotional materials live and in person.

There's a lot more great stuff to see including revolutionary war satire, early British maps of a newly independent United States, surveying equipment, fashion accessories needlepoint maps. I didn't have enough time to photograph and catalog everything noteworthy. If I did this would be an extremely long post.