Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Favorite Maps-Part 2

Erwin Raisz - Landforms of the United States, 1957
Raisz was a Hungarian civil engineer. When he came to the United States he began working for the Ohman Map Company in New York City where he also taught one of the nation's first cartography classes at Columbia University. Eventually he ended up at Harvard University where he also curated their excellent map collection. His artistic talent, memory, eye for detail and scientific knowledge combined to make a remarkably detailed and beautiful map.
I first encountered this map in 1991 when working on the Historical Atlas of Massachusetts. We used the map as a backdrop for the a graphic showing the geology and ecology of the northeastern United States.
 I've been fascinated with this map ever since. Here are some nice details.
He uses some gorgeous hand lettering-especially for the water features. Note the ancient glacial lake shoreline at the western edge of this section. I'm also intrigued by his space saving labeling of smaller cities ("S" for Sandusky, "Y" for Youngstown, etc.) This is one example of the kind of unconventional techniques that make me uncomfortable, but in a good (teaching moment) kind of way.
Another unconventional technique - where the landforms were either less well explored or not available, he created a mostly empty space with the text "Laurentian upland of low hills and many lakes." I find it curious that Mexico is mostly empty, except a small area along the California and Arizona boundaries, while Canada is mostly filled in.
The legend showing multiple features in one box - another unconventional but very successful approach.

 Dramatic landscapes look great...
...but even in mostly flat areas, such as this part of Kansas, he still managed to keep the features interesting.
You can browse this map from the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Raisz created similar maps for regions around the world.
A list of his and purchase prices can be found at the Raisz Landform Maps web page.

1 comment:

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