Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Schematic Newton

I have worked in the City of Newton, Massachusetts for almost two decades creating maps of the City. As part thought exercise and part learning project for using Inkscape, I decided to try a very schematic map.

Newton's geography is very complicated. There is no downtown, rather 13 (or 14 depending on who's counting) villages, each with some central downtown or at least crossroads. The city outline was extremely simplified. The diamond shape I went with made it hard to fit in some major roadways in the far eastern (Hammond, Hammond Pond) and western (Grove and Lexington) parts of the city.  
The EST. and INC. are from the signs at the borders.
This evolved quite a bit after finding some mistakes (this was all done from memory) and some comments from city residents and even elected officials. I like simplicity of this early version, though there is a major mistake in not showing that Commonwealth Avenue crosses Interstate 90 in the western part of the city. Still there's always a level of accuracy that gets lost in the name of simplicity.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Remarkable Maps of Mr. Tornado

Last night I watched "The Remarkable Mind of Mr. Tornado" on PBS. Tetsuya "Ted" Fujita was a pioneer in meteorology, known for developing the F-scale to measure tornadoes. His studies led him to draw many maps of this nature.
What I enjoyed the most was his personal maps. When he was invited to the University of Chicago to work with professor Horace Byers, he experienced his first airplane flight. During the flight he drew this charming map showing the clouds he passed through on a multi-day flight with two stopovers on Wake Island and in Hawaii.
Via PBS, "American Experience"
This map is a bit hard to read at this size so here is some detail. Click the picture above to see the entire map at higher resolution.
In his own words "Without wasting the expensive flight time, I began sketching the vertical time cross section of clouds along the flight path. Shortly before 1600 JST, the aircraft flew into towering cumuli, encountering severe turbulence. I heard crashing sounds of dishes and utensils in the flight kitchen. A moment after, the flight became smooth and I saw a beautiful arc of low clouds.”

After settling in Chicago he began to document his travel throughout the United States and Canada, first by railroad, then by car.
He traveled through every state except Rhode Island. According to the map he only missed it by a few miles. I have chronicled my own travels in this manner but not with nearly as much charm or detail.

Highlights of this map include the tornado-chasing squiggles through Oklahoma and the green elevation contours.

More on Mr. Fujita here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Detroit's Urban and Interurban Charms

Before becoming the nation's center of auto manufacturing, Detroit had an extensive urban and regional transit system. The Detroit United Railway, a consolidation of various streetcar and regional railways produced some gorgeous panoramic maps.
via Reddit
A version of this 1920 map from the David Rumsey Map Collection allows you to zoom way in and really see the nice details.
This version only has the panoramic map section. Another version on Reddit shows the whole map complete with the title block,
and descriptions of the points of interest and "nature's interurban charms."
Here's the view from Port Huron spotlighting some more rural parts of the region and a nice title block.
A less panoramic, but still charming map of the entire system area from 1913 can be found and purchased on Cameron Booth's Transit Maps web site. The above map is also for sale there.
I like the ships and fonts.
While you're vacationing through the interurban charms of southeastern Michigan, you may want to stay at the Hotel Fort Wayne. It is conveniently located at the cirner of Cass & Temple in the middle of everything as this map (via Detroitography) shows.
A zoomed in view shows the proximity to the theaters, transit and City Hall

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Gerrymandering the EU for Funds and Profit

There's a good article in The Pudding showing how countries like Hungary have been able to increase their share of European Union development funds by splitting the most economically developed regions. This creates "have not" regions within the "have" regions that are more likely to meet the threshold for aid.
In the map above the entire Budapest region is shaded in green (above average development) whereas the rest of the country is shaded pink for below average development. By making a tight ring around Budapest and calling the rest of the region "Pest", the country now has one more below average region that can receive aid, while Budapest has a more concentrated (greener) level of development.

This is a similar process to the gerrymandering so familiar in the United States. Lithuania and Poland have also done similar splits. The maps below illustrate nicely the difference between development at a larger scale (country wide) and at a regional scale.

You can really see how one or a few cities can change the balance, most notably in France. The article does this great "scrollytelling" bit that shifts between these two maps and then with further scrolling send each region flying over to its position on a graph.

To get the full effect and see much more go here and scroll away.