Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Transit Tokens of the World

This is a map that I started about two years ago but got interrupted by various events including a global pandemic. I saw a bunch of old tokens for sale in a store, including one for Rockford, Illinois that I bought for a friend from there.

Upon further research I discovered a whole world of these things online and made a map of them. You can move around and click on a token to see a bigger image. 

This is a worldwide phenomenon though most of the tokens are from the United States.

Some notes about this project:

Most of these are bus tokens, the Midwest seems to be very fertile ground for these.

The larger cities have multiple tokens. I tried to choose the most "rapid" form of transit, for example subway over bus, and also use tokens from the "classic" era (the golden age of transit-in the U.S. approximately mid-20th Century). There are three city transit systems I have a lot of experience with, making those decisions a little more personal. For Boston, a city where I was a subway commuter for a few years I chose the tokens that I actually used on a daily basis. For Philadelphia, though it was tempting to use the SEPTA tokens that I used often in the 1980's and 90's, I went with a more "classic" look. For New York I used what I think of as the classic NYC token with the hole in the Y.

European tokens are very hard to come by and I suspect that most of those systems used some kind of ticket instead of a token. The token from Paris has a nice map on it but is a 50th Anniversary collectible that was probably not used for an normal admission.

I could not find tokens for many other European cities that I know have good subway systems. Most of the European ones are from former Soviet Union republics.

Asia has some very strangely colorful tokens. Possibly plastic?

Click here to explore. If anyone has other tokens they want added to this project, please send them along!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Marine Traffic Update

Here is a nicely done map showing the marine traffic situation in Southern California. There's a thread with some other good visualizations.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Marine Traffic

Maps showing the number of ships stuck because of the Suez Canal blockage are very eye opening.

via Reuters
The amount of global commerce that can be disrupted by one ship is astonishing.  Marine Tracker is a live map that shows just how much shipping traffic there is worldwide. Here is the ship traffic in western Europe.

You get a good idea from the map where other bottlenecks might occur such as the Straits of Hormuz,

and Malacca.

A click on the map brings up info about individual ships such as this one waiting to get through the Suez Canal. The ship is called the "Mexico City" but is sailing under the flag of Singapore from Colombo, Sri Lanka.

I also like how it shows inland traffic. You can see much of Illinois outlined from this screen shot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Cross Stitch Cartography

Last Spring there was a How to do Map Stuff event including a talk by cartographer Victoria Johnson-Dahl on Cross Stitch Cartography. The full video can be seen here. The talk includes examples from the past and a tutorial on how to make a pattern from a map. Much of what follows has been lifted from her talk. Here are some wonderful examples she unearthed.

The Farm Called Arnolds in The Parish of Stapelforth Abby & Lambourn in the County of Essex

An unknown author created this detailed embroidery of a farm including some detailed property information. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum page suggests that it may have been an educational exercise for a young girl to learn needlework skills, geography, and rural economy. 

Another educational example are these globes with latitude and longitude lines stitched by Quaker girls at the Westtown School in Pennsylvania.

Here is a Hmong Story Cloth - from the Minnesota Historical Society the description below is from their site


"Story cloth illustrating the participation of Hmong people in the Laotian Civil War (1953-1975), also known as the Secret War, and the subsequent Hmong genocide, resistance, exile in Thailand and emigration to the United States. The scenes depicted on the cloth include the CIA-operated Laotian town of Long Chien as it appeared from 1967-1974; the flight of the Hmong from Laos into Thailand across the Mekong River; the refugee camp at Vinai; Hmong people studying English at Phanat Nikhom; and their arrival at and departure from a Bangkok airport. The cotton cloth's figures are embroidered; its border is appliqued."

Here is a detailed look

For the tutorial she uses this 1829 needlework map of New York Counties by a 14 year old Elizabeth Goldin.

She shows how to use raster image scaling and color simplification to create a cross stitch pattern from public data such as land cover. Here's an example I tried for Rochester, New York.

By greatly reducing the resolution until the image looks very pixelated, it becomes a guide for each stitch. This could be improved upon by simplifying the colors and a little photoshop work but its a start.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Famine Roads and Poetry

The British response to the Great Famine of Ireland, when over a million people died from hunger, was to make the Irish work hard for any help provided. One of the work projects was to build "famine roads" - roads that often climbed steep hills and dead ended. Here is a map showing some of these roads in Mayo and Galway - via this history site.

I first heard about these roads because they are mentioned in a lovely poem by Eavan Boland called That The Sceince of Cartography is Limited. You can read the poem here

The area shown above was one of the hardest hit areas in the famine.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Art Maps-Elizabeth Person

This week is getting away from me so here is a quick post showing the map art of Elizabeth Person, based in northwest Washington.


There's a lot more to discover on her Etsy page.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The National Votes for Women Trail

 The National Votes for Women Trail is a project of the National Collaborative for Women's History Sites. The trail shows sites integral to the campaign for women's suffrage.  They have collected over 2,100 sites around the country so far. So many that the map at country level is basically a population map. 

These sites can be filtered in numerous ways such as by organization and ethnicity. The "Latinx" filter for example shows mainly sites in the Southwest. There are no sites east of the Mississippi.

You can also zoom in to an area and choose to keep or exclude certain sites.

You can submit your own sites. The interface, by Tableau is nice and slick looking. However the tools are a bit sticky and don't always work as intended. Also the filters are very hard to use because there are so many choices. My final complaint about the interface is that the aerial photo view makes it difficult to see the sites in built up areas*,

and even more so in dry, built up areas.

*These screen shots actually look better my screen looks. Still, if I were designing this I would have given a simple base map option so the sites stand out more.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Lynching Maps

The NAACP used cartography to highlight lynchings in an attempt to garner support for the protection of their communities. This map uses a somewhat unusual but effective group of pattern fills to show statewide data. 

A few years later this map appeared in a magazine called The Crisis showing lynchings between 1889 and 1921.

"Each dot on this map represents one of the 3,436 lynchings which took place in the United States between 1889 and 1921, a period of 32 years. The dots are all in the states where the lynchings occurred but naturally they could not be placed in the exact localities...but within the state boundaries." The way the dots are grouped within each state is strangely random as are the differing dot sizes.

These maps came from an article in Geography Realm which highlights the contributions of black cartographers in creating maps for social justice. More info on this topic here

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Black History in Baton Rouge

Mid City Studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana created a series of maps for each month in 2017 in honor of that city's 200th anniversary. The map for February, Black History Month, shows the historic highlights of South Baton Rouge.

What the map design lacks in excitement it makes up for with a wealth of detail.  Their other monthly maps are also worth a look.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Polish Phonetic Map of Britain

This map was recently featured in an episode of Map Men covering Soviet cold war cartography. It shows southeastern British place names spelled phonetically to teach would be Polish invaders how to pronounce them.

The map was originally put on Twitter by former Economist researcher Alex White but the original tweet appears to be gone. The image above is via The Sun. Some fun names include Saufend-on-Sji (Southend-on-Sea), Hejstynz (Hastings) and Byszeps-Stofed (Bishops Stortford).

A bit shocking to think about perhaps but it makes for some nice wall art

This version was created by Maple Tea based on the original version.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Shifting Place Names in Africa

This map from PisseGuri82 shows place names that are no longer in the same location as the current country.

According to this page they do not overlap "at all" though that is only true for the pre-colonial kingdoms. Some of these countries are remnants of previously larger kingdoms. For example, Guinea is named for the Gulf of Guinea which the modern day country does not border. Benin was a kingdom based in Nigeria with Benin City, Nigeria as its capital. Many of these names were either imposed by colonial powers or chosen when the countries became independent.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Dark Tourism

 If seeing what horrible things people do to others and to the environment is your thing then you might enjoy these "dark tourism" destinations.

Compiled shortly before the current pandemic restricted travel, this list curated by a travel insurance company, even includes places such as North Korea where travel insurance is not covered. Gulags, genocide, horrible working conditions, nuclear destruction, it's all here! You can double your money in Chacabuco, Chile where there is a nitrate industry ghost town and a Pinochet concentration camp.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

COVID-19: The Early Days

A year ago the COVID-19 pandemic made its first inroads into the United States. The virus was first found in Washington State in late January-early February. Science Magazine details the routes the virus took and includes this map.

The article details how some of the earliest introductions in Washington were controlled by rapid interventions and social distancing. However, subsequent viruses appeared that were genetically similar making for "chains of cryptic transmission that started on 15 January and went undetected for several weeks."  The dashed lines indicate transmissions that died out. An early incursion to Munich, Germany is another example of a dead end. This variant was spread by an auto supplier who came to a company headquarters in Bavaria from Shanghai. The outbreak infected 16 employees but was contained through testing and isolation.

Eventually the virus made inroads in Washington and California by direct travel from China while another pathway brought the virus to New York via Italy. This lead to the earliest outbreaks, first in Seattle and then in New York City.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Wood Wide Web

Last night I was reading about the Wood Wide Web, an underground network created by fungi to transfer nutrients, minerals, water and even information among and between species. The diagram below is an illustration of this from Wikipedia.

I could not find a map showing the tree locations in that study but I did find this one from another study. The map shows a 30 cm square plot of Douglas firs. Any resemblance to Washington D.C. is purely coincidental.

This Douglas firs in green have arrows connecting their root systems to the sample locations represented by the black dots. The blue and pink shaded areas represent the fiber networks of two different species of fungus. The oldest trees have the most connections. The tree pointed out with an arrow is the oldest in the stand (94 years old at the time of this study) and has the most connections. 

This diagram shows the same stand with the firs colored by age, the youngest ones are yellow and the oldest dark green. The circles are sized by diameter and the thickness of the lines indicates the degree of connection. The forest is a connected network and removing older trees can have a huge impact on its resilience. More information on this study is here and for an interesting look at these networks see this article in Science Focus.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Natural Disasters of 2020

In addition to all the other problems of 2020, it was also a record setting year for natural disasters in the United States and worldwide. In the U.S. there were 22 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion. The previous record for this scale of loss was 16 in 2011 and 2017. These disasters also caused 262 deaths. Here's a map from NOAA.

Climate Central has maps showing number of disasters by state (this is all billion dollar events since 1980),

and more interestingly by type, though they should have picked a more clearly distinct color for TROPICS.

Finally, here's a map from Reddit showing disaster type by county. 

Like most things on Reddit there are many caveats. Unlike most things on Reddit the author was good enough to include them here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

 Need a break from the dreary weather and political theater of January? Here are some whimsical maps of the Harbin Ice & Snow Festival and the nearby China Snow Town.

The festival features several theme parks, skating rinks, ice sculptures and some really nice light displays

This map is more useful but less fun.

The Snow Town is a ski resort with places named "Snow Charm Hotel" and "Dream Home"

You can't travel there this year but you can see more here. One final sunset picture.