Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Michigan's Gayest Square Mile

Many people think of suburban Ferndale as the gay part of Detroit. Like much of the population, the white LGBT community gradually moved north until they left the city altogether. However in the early 1970's the Palmer Park area was the center of gay culture and there still is a sizable African-American gay community in the area.
The above map via WDET, was originally featured in a 1972 travel magazine. There are some nice pictorial elements but unlike many pictorial maps, the accuracy does not suffer from these details. The radio station's CuriosiD page includes this map along with stories, audio and an interactive map showing the movement of gay culture since 1930.
If the gay community has largely moved to the suburbs then the above map suffers from not including those areas. The only clear pattern is a general spreading out from downtown. There is a cluster of activity in Palmer Park* but it does not stand out from other areas. The color scheme is also not great for visualization.

*Palmer Park is immediately north of the jagged shaped hole in the city that includes the independent cities of Hamtramck and Highland Park.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Human Impact

Via - National Geographic
A new study published in the journal Nature Communications, based on satellite imagery and other data from 1993 and 2009 maps the human footprint in those years. The good news is that the human footprint has not grown in direct proportion to population or the economy. However, some of the most intense pressure on the planet is being felt in places with the highest diversity of plant and animal life.

The above map shows the current footprint with the least impacted areas in blue and the most impacted in yellow and red. The map below shows the change in our impact on the planet between 1993 and 2009. Some of the wealthier areas have seen improvements but many of these are also areas that are already highly impacted.
The National Geographic article discusses how we can help save our biodiversity by focusing protection efforts on species-rich areas such as the Amazon Basin that are seeing significant impact. There are also links to the Wildlife Conservation Society's interactive maps where you can see the current footprint and change for any chosen area.
In the above change map areas of increasing pressure on the environment are in red and decreasing pressure is in blue. Areas not colored have seen little change. Much the Midwestern farming areas have seen decreasing pressure while the red areas include outer suburbs and areas of resource exploitation such as natural gas fracking. Africa has seen a great increase in pressure in the semi-arid Sahel region. Europe has a bit of and east/west split with the east seeing increasing pressure.
The other interactive map includes a slider where you can compare the human impact in 1993 and 2009 as shown here in southern Brazil and Uruguay.
These maps can be explored further by clicking on them or at this link.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mapping Drug Research in South Africa

Professor Anne Pollock created Mapping iThemba, an interactive map for a research project on health issues based at iThemba Pharmaceuticals, a start-up company based on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Pollock wrote the text while the map was illustrated by J. Russell Huffman.  The lack of a traditional mapping background of the map's creators makes for a unique visual presentation. It does not look like a typical GIS or Google-based map though there are Google-y teardrop-shaped icons to click for more information.
The non-strict locational accuracy allows the highlights to be shown more clearly and frees up a more artistic interpretation. The map shows relevant details, leaving out many other details of the Pretoria-Johannesburg area, most notably the sprawl.
Except where needed-surrounding the medial campus. 
There are many other interesting details and side stories such as the historic dynamite factory, now a museum.
Those of us who make maps professionally often complain about maps made by non-cartographers but in the hands of the right people the results can be pretty nice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pictorial Maps-a more detailed review

Last week I visited the Osher Map Library where The Golden Age of American Pictorial Maps runs through September 3rd. I did a very short blog post. Now that I have more time here are some more detailed highlights. Most of the exhibit's maps can be seen and zoomed into online at this link. I took my own pictures to give a detailed look at parts of the maps and also to make the text more readable

The "Golden Age" of American pictorial maps is defined as the 1920's-1960's, a time when maps were part of and a reflection of the popular culture.  There are seven parts to the exhibit - I will try and show highlights from each in order.

1. Early Pictorial Maps
The first map in the collection is actually not from this time period - it is from a 1662 Joan Blaeu world atlas.  The point is to illustrate an early version of a map with many pictorial elements.
After touring the exhibit, I got a chance to hold a volume of this atlas in my hands. The atlas is full of great details that I hope to revisit in a future post.

George Walker & Co., Bird's Eye View from Summit Mt. Washington (ca. 1905)
 This is a spectacular art/map combination. Here's a picture I took of the summit.

Fresno County and Mid-California's "Garden of the Sun" (author anonymous) is another one of my favorites:
Also in this section is the London Wonderground Map  that was the subject of a previous Map of the Week post.

2. Maps of Place and Region

Ilonka Karasz, Plan de Paris (1927)
Of course I love Paris but I also love the way the streets have hatch lines that make it look like they were stitched onto the map.

Carl Crow and V. V. Kovalsky Illustrated Historical Map of Shanghai (1935)
I liked the title block so I photographed it.

3. Maps to Instruct

Arthur B. Suchy Ohio, Mother of Presidents (1939)
The regions are interesting and new to me-lots of good small details too.
Emma Bourne, America-A Nation of One People From Many Countries (1940)
This was published by the Council Against Intolerance in America to show how well immigrants have been integrated into society. "With the exception of the Indian all Americans or their forefathers came here from other countries." While I was at this exhibit, Donald Trump was across town trying to blame Maine's Somali immigrants for an imaginary rise in crime.

 Edward Everett Henry, The Virginian (1960)

a remarkably detailed map illustrating the first "western" novel.

4. Maps to Amuse
Ray Handy's Paul Bunyan map is some good, ridiculous fun.

Also, similar to my old Texan's map postcard is this Angeleno-centric "brag map"- proudly showing off local geographic ignorance. Chicago is a state but Wisconsin a mere city within Minnesota.  States are placed in ridiculous locations with a giant Iowa in the middle and phony places like "Feudville" in Kentucky.
5. Maps for Industry

Cleveland Terminal Group, The Capital of a New Trade Empire (1929)
Civic pride on steroids! I chose this one because my wife could find the intersection where she once lived on the map-it's right there in the lower right - see it?

Map of Michigan (Slightly Exaggerated) Shafer's Bakeries, Inc. (1949)
Similar to the LA "brag map" but also advertising bread ("such crust!") and using loaves as border decorations. Nice references to Florida as "Southern Michigan," California as "Western Michigan" and Chicago as the "Gateway to Michigan."

6. Maps for War.
 Ernest Dudley Chase, Japan, The Target: A Pictorial Jap Map (1943)
World War 2 in the North Sea Area...(1944)
This one was in a big glass display in the center of the room. As a result I was not able to get a picture without lots of reflections so use the link to see it better.

7. Maps for Postwar America.

There are lots of good maps in this collection, but I like this juxtaposition of an optimistic map of New York from 1958 followed by a gloomy view of LA from a decade later. The LA view features pink sky, smog and a sickly sun.

Nils Hansell, Wonders of New York (ca 1958)
Gene Holtan, Los Angeles (1968)
One final note: The staff at the Osher Library were extremely welcoming and helpful. Mr. Osher even dropped in to see what I was doing. I would like to thank them for all their help - and the lunch recommendation!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Golden Age of American Pictorial Maps

 Today I am posting live from the Osher Map Library where The Golden Age of American Pictorial Maps runs through September 3rd. I planned to do a "live blog" but this exhibition has greatly exceeded my expectations. In order to do it justice, I will need to do a more thorough post when I have the time. In the meanwhile here are some highlights. Here is the Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion Projection on the side of the building
Projected Global Air Routes- link
Rio-World's most beautiful (and maybe polluted) harbor. Site of tomorrow's Olympics
On the trail of Moby Dick-link
Dystopian LA with its Pepto-Bismol Sky-link
Also, they let handle an Atlas by Joan Blaeu!
More on that and everything else later.