Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pictorial Maps from the La Jolla Map Museum

In one of my final posts from my March visit to the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum, I will show some of their large collection of pictorial maps. They just opened a new room dedicated to these maps including many by Jo Mora, an artist and photographer originally from Uruguay who moved to California, the subject of many of his pictorial maps.
Photo taken at the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum

Photo taken at the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum
More on the map above can be found in a previous post.

Another popular collection of pictorial maps is the "Hysetrical Map" series by the Lindgren Borthers.
Photo taken at the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum
This one is titled "A Hysterical Map Of The Mother Lode Where California Was Born and Hell Was Raised." It's full of jokey details such as "Gold is often found in sand but so is spinach" and "An ass covered with gold has more respect than a horse with a pack saddle." There are also maps of Yellowstone and the Grand Coulee Dam featured on the museum's web page.

A 1963 tourist map of southern California grandiosely titled "Ride the Roads to Romance along the Golden Coast thru the Sunshine Empire of Southern California" shows historic trails emanating out for Los Angeles City Hall,
Photo courtesy of the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum
to charming mountains, orange groves and historic missions.
Photo courtesy of the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum
The edges of the map show natural and historic vignettes.
Photo courtesy of the La Jolla Map & Atlas Museum
Harrison Godwin's 1927 map of San Francisco ("where the sun never scorches and the water never freezes") is one of the most detailed pictorials packed with facts, figures, "whimsical vignettes" and transportation info.
I was not able to get a good up close photo but here is a screen shot via the David Rumsey Map Collection.
For a slightly more "modern" take here is the "Digital Deli Map of Personal Computer America" by illustrator Rick Meyerowitz, most famous for his work for National Lampoon. The map highlights Silicon Valley culture.
The bottom of the map contains a list of highlighted companies.
Highlights include a hiker in the Cascades carrying a large PC on his back with the screen reading "You are lost" and people in hot tubs looking at their computers. Here is part of the less important and therefore compressed eastern two thirds of the country.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

America-Lord of the Rings Style

This map was on various other blogs several years ago but somehow I missed it.
Maps in the style of Tolkien are popular these days but I like this one. It was made by reddit user Jvlivs and originally appeared on here on reddit. Some of it is loosely based on Joel Garreau's Nine Nations of North America, though the nations on here are very different. They include a New England that stretches all the way down to Cincinnati,
a huge Missouri,
and a two states comprising the entire western third of the country.
One of the most appealing aspects of this map is the landscape features.
The legend is also a very nice touch.
For a high resolution version click here, for the original discussion on reddit here.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Japanese Control of Aboriginals in Taiwan

This map from the 1911 Government of Formosa Report on the Control of the Aborigines in Formosa shows the location of aboriginal tribes using vivid colors and language.
Japan took control of Formosa (Taiwan) in 1895 as a result of the First Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese were in a state of frequent conflict with the aboriginal people of the mountainous east, referred to as "savages" in the text as well as in the legend of the map. The map also shows "guard lines" - outposts manned by trusted indigenous troops under Japanese authority. 

The book details the customs of these people with extensive photographs. There were approximately 100,000 natives living in 671 villages.  It also includes two detailed topographic maps of eastern Formosa. Here is part of the northern map - click to see the entire map.
Japan held control of Taiwan up until the end of World War II, its resources and people contibuted greatly (though mostly not willingly) to Japan's rise as a global power.

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 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.
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