Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mapping the Slave Trade

Four Hundred Years Ago this month, the first African slaves arrived on the shores of what would become the United States. The Pulitzer Center's 1619 Project seeks to reframe the history of the United States by using this as a foundational date in the nation's history. This Sunday's New York Times Magazine is a special issue on American slavery.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s Slave Route project features a good map of the trade. Click below to load at higher resolution.
Map via UNESCO
The black arrows show human trafficking while colored arrows show the "triangle trade" routes where sugars, tobacco, coffee and cotton were brought from the colonies to Europe (green arrows) and weapons and jewelry (orange) were brought to Africa. Dashed lines show extensive overland and sea routes throughout Africa and Asia.
The smaller maps below show trade volumes of deportation through the centuries. The 17th Century map shows the first, relatively small numbers of slaves sent to the Jamestown Colony.
Map via UNESCO
By the 18th Century that number had grown tremendously.
Map via UNESCO
The numbers shrank for the 19th Century as importation of slaves was outlawed in the United States 1807.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Woodstock in Maps

While watching a documentary on PBS about the Woodstock Festival on its 50th Anniversary, I noticed an intricate site map. The site was spread out and I imagine one could get lost easily-especially if under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
This appears to be an official map - via the Woodstock Preservation Archives.
I dig the legend - it's groovy! Also, good to know where the barbed wire is.
Here is another map that was used at the festival.It came from an underground magazine called "Rat" and is available at WorthPoint.
The map has a "Survival Guide" printed on the side and many nice details,
in addition to another carefully done legend. It even shows the outhouses though that may be a generous description of the porto potties on the site.
Finally, here is the cover of the East Village Other showing a nice, fanciful map of the area and some nice psychedelic details like birds with instrument heads and women being squeezed out of Gleem toothpaste tubes - via Barron Maps.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Terms of Sale

Laphams Quarterly created a nice map showing how words have evolved through centuries of trade.
Items documented include whiskey, cotton, ivory and tomatoes. As an example the word for tomato has its origins in the Nahuatl language. It spread to much of western Europe and Africa with a similar name. However, the Italians started calling it "golden apple" (pomodoro) and variations on this word spread to eastern Europe and central Asia as seen in the red arrows.
The map also documents the dual words for tea referenced in a previous blog post- variations on cha from land trade and te variations from overseas trade.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Vietnam, Past Is Prologue

The Smithsonian American Art Museum's  exhibit Vietnam, Past Is Prologue features some beautiful, creative maps from artist Tiffany Chung.
Operation Lam Son 719, 30 Jan – 6 April 1971

The exhibit highlights the experiences of former refugees from Vietnam where Chung grew up and experienced the war. Her work re-maps memories that were denied in official records. The round bead-like shapes may be troops or civilians or both.
Easter Offensive 1972 – NVA attacks of MR IV
All maps are done with acrylic, ink and oil paints. Here are boat trajectories from the exodus out of Vietnam.
Reconstructing an exodus history boat trajectories in Asia, 2017
Operation Lam Son 719, Feb 1971 – Operation Dewey Canyon II & the attack toward Khe Sahn
Operation Lam Son 719, Feb 1971 – ARVN

For more on the artist and many more maps see her page at Tyler Rollins Fine Art. The exhibition runs through September 2, 2019.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Moon Landings

National Geographic produced a beautiful visualization of the moon landings. Here is a detail showing the Apollo 11 landing 50 years ago along with other landings.
Blue dots are American landings and red Russian. Like many of their graphics the whole thing is dense with information.
I like the timeline in the corner showing the early missions (US missions are blue, Russian red, X marks failed missions-they get fewer as time goes on).
Here are the more recent and planned missions including many more colors for many more nations, including India, The European Space Agency, Israel, China, Japan and South Korea.
The pink and purple colors in the corners show lunar topography on both sides of the moon. The entire graphic and more can be seen here on

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Grab Bag

Here's a bunch of random maps. They won't "change the way you see the world" like so many other clickbait-y sites claim. They're just kind of interesting, or pretty, or something. Click on the map for the original source and higher resolution.

Meat Production on Ranches - via Pearson Education though I lost the link.
Tasmania's cartographic revenge - via Reddit

WestJet Destinations, 2000 featuring a Canada without Montreal or Toronto.

Proposed development of Toronto's industrial waterfront, 1910
- via Toronto Public Library

Saloons, free theatre and "houses of ill fame" in Buffalo, 1893. If you're looking for this neighborhood, it's basically been torn down and replaced with expressways. Easy access from the Children's museum though.

Geo-Eye (Mount Inasa), 2015 by Takahiro Iwasaki carved on a roll of vinyl electrical tape. Iwasaki is a Hiroshima-based artist. Mount Inasa is in Nagasaki.
Where Europe and Asia would fit in North America climate-wise - via askthebirds
Tourism map - where to see whales, seabirds and icebergs in Newfoundland And Labrador - issuu.
Whales and dolphins in Costa Rica - via Enter Costa Rica

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

NBA Attendance

I made this map as part of a software tutorial (this explains why it still needs work), but mainly as an appropriate map subject for the Kawhi North Arrow. I'm not a big basketball follower but when I saw the picture of Kawhi Leonard with his "North" jersey and arms raised I thought it made the perfect north arrow. I put it out on Twitter and way more people liked it than the usual junk I tweet out.

The source of the data is here on ESPN. I was almost as excited as Kawhi to see my 76ers at the top of the list - we finally won something!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Bee Pollination

I'm a few days late for National Pollinator Week but here it is...

The map no longer appears to be on National Geographic's web site but here is a more readable image (if you click it for the larger version) from this blog post of the Hampden County Beekeepers Association

An article in Smithsonian highlights areas where agriculture is at risk due to a high need for pollination coupled with low wild bee populations. The red counties below are the most high risk areas.
These areas including California's Central Valley, The lower Mississippi Valley and upper midwest are all yellow (low abundance areas) in the map below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Treaty of Versailles

This Friday, June 28th marks the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles. This treaty changed the borders of Europe, at a particular disadvantage to Germany. Here is a 1920 newspaper map "from book" via UCSB professor Harold Marcuse's web pages.
Another map, via Mark Callagher shows the German territorial losses much more clearly.
In addition to the widely mentioned losses to Poland, France and Denmark there are more obscure enclaves that I was not aware of. These include Eupen-Malmedy, a German speaking region of eastern Belgium.Ƥnderungen.jpg
Map via Wikipedia
Within this region was the jointly administered area of Neutral Moresnet. This was a neutral sliver of land between Belgium (originally the Netherlands) and Prussia that both countries were interested in because of a valuable zinc mine. Treaties after Napoleon's empire left the area neutral pending a future agreement. The region, along with the rest of Eupen-Malmedy was awarded to Belgium after the Treaty of Versailles. The region is shown in white on the postcard below.
Postcard via Wikipedia

There was also the brief existence of the Free State of Bottleneck. This bottleneck shaped area was leftover when the French and American post World War I circular zones of control did not meet
By Ziegelbrenner -.Source: Ravenstein Radwanderkarte, 1923
This region was cut off from the rest of Germany and was declared as a microstate in January, 1919. It was abolished in 1923. The state had about 17,000 people and printed its own emergency money featuring a map of the area.
Image via Wikipedia

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Data illustrator Eleanor Lutz has created a really nice topographic map of Mercury.
The map is laid out with a large view of the planet's eastern hemisphere. In the corners surrounded by leafy details are the northern, southern and western hemispheres as well as a cutaway view of the planet's core.
Here is some detail - the planet's features are from the International Astronomical Union. Mercury's craters named for writers and artists.
Her map poster can be purchased here, along with other items like pillows and clocks decorated with the map's artwork.

Lutz also gives you a link to her code and tutorial showing you how it was done. Also see her maps for MarsVenus, and the Moon- as seen here

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.