Monday, July 16, 2018

Elevation Kaleidoscope


Landschach is a global kaleidoscope made from a map of the world.

It might not look like Landschach is made from a map but it is. What you are seeing is a map in which a sine wave has been applied to elevation values. This results in blocks of colors without the normal gradients you would get in a traditional elevation map. You can see this more clearly when looking at the same map without the kaleidoscope effect.

The kaleidoscope effect in Landschach is created by having four instance of the same map view. As you travel around the four map instances in sequence the map is flipped 180 degrees. This results in a trippy kaleidoscope effect.


Landschach was inspired by Rorschach Satellite. Rorschach Satellite is a fun little map which is designed to create a kaleidoscope effect using Mapbox aerial views. The map was created by Mapbox's Damon Burgett.

Essentially Rorschach Satellite places two maps side-by-side. On one map the satellite image is flipped so that it shows the mirror image of the other map. The result is that Rorschach Satellite creates patterns very similar to the ink blot patterns used by psychologists in Rorschach tests.

If you like a pattern created with Rorschach Satellite you can copy and past the map URL to share a link to your view on Rorschach Satellite.


#rorschmap uses the Google Maps API to create a very similar effect. #rorschmap can create a kaleidoscope view for any location on the Earth. Essentially the application displays the Google Maps satellite view of a location and, using the same principle of multiple reflection that you find in kaleidoscopes, creates an animated Rorschach test effect.

The map works in a similar way to Rorschach Satellite but actually has four different map views rather than two.


If that doesn't impress you then why not try #rorschmap Street View Edition. Just enter your address into the app and you can drop-down the rabbit-hole and create a kaleidoscope from the Google Maps Street View of your own home!

Mappa Monday


In the 7th century the scholar Isidore of Seville wrote an encyclopedia of universal knowledge. His 'Etymologiae' included a description of the known world. Some medieval manuscripts of  Etymologiae include a map based on Isidore's description of the world. These are widely known as T and O maps.

You can view a 15th century interpretation of a T and O map on Mappae Mundi, my collection of vintage world maps. To view the T and O map just click on the '600' date in the map menu and wait for the map to load.

T and O Maps are simple circular maps depicting half of the Earth. The antipodes, being unknown, are not shown. The simple depiction of the known world includes three continents Asia, Africa and Europe. Asia (east), which is twice the size of the other two continents, is shown at the top of the map. Jerusalem is often depicted in the center of the map (although not in this T and O map).

The T and O map I've included in Mappae Mundi comes from the Etymologiae in the Kraus Map Collection, at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas.

The Yangon Time Machine


The Yangon Time Machine is a Google Map showcasing vintage photographs of Yangon, Myanmar. Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar, is steeped in history. The city boasts the highest number of colonial-era buildings in Southeast Asia. It also boasts a large number of impressive Hindu and Buddhist temples.

You can browse the vintage photographs of Yangon by location by using the Yangon Time Machine interactive map. Select a marker of the map and you can view an historical photograph of the chosen location. This view includes a slide control which allows you to compare the vintage photograph with a photo of the same view today.

As well as showcasing beautiful historical views of Yangon's colonial buildings and religious temples the Yangon Time Machine allows you to view a 1914 vintage map of Rangoon. This vintage map viewer uses an OpenStreetMap map of modern Yangon with a spy glass tool which allows you to see the 1914 Rangoon map superimposed on top of the modern map.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Street Orientations - World Edition


Geoff Boeing's Comparing City Street Orientations has been very popular over the last week. Geoff's compass rose visualizations show the street orientation patterns of 25 major American cities. This series of compass roses reveals that nearly all U.S. cities adhere to a fairly strict grid system of roads.

Now Geoff has turned his attention to other major cities around the world. City Street Orientations around the World includes compass rose visualizations showing the street orientations of 25 cities across the globe. When you look at the street orientations of American cities side-by-side with some of the much older global cities you can see how older cities tend not to have the same strict grid cities of younger cities across the world.


It is also interesting to explore why some city street orientations deviate from the cardinal directions. You can probably guess why Manhattan doesn't have the strict North-South and East-West street orientation of most American cities. If you aren't sure of the reason then you might want to look at a map of New York.


A few years ago Visual Statistix also explored the road direction patterns in America and in a number of European cities. Visual Statistix included maps of each city next to the rose diagrams of urban road patterns. These maps allow you to explore how geographical and natural features (most often rivers) might contribute to the orientation of city streets in cities whose streets deviate from the cardinal directions.


Thanks to a number of Reddit users we now also have street orientations for cities in a number of other countries around the world. ddofer created (the above) compass rose visualizations for cities in Israel.


oxymiro made a similar visualization showing the street orientations of the sixteen biggest cities in France.


In the Netherlands bartkappenberg created compass roses showing street orientations for fifteen Dutch cities.


DSPublic made a visualization showing the street orientations of the most populous cities in each Canadian province.

Friday, July 13, 2018

How much do you know about NATO?


Vladimir Putin and his flunkies have launched a coordinated campaign designed to undermine support for NATO around the world. NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. It is in effect a system of collective defence whereby member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.

You can learn more about the role of NATO, its member countries and NATO's partners by playing the NATO Map Game. The NATO Map Game asks you a series of questions about countries around the world. Your role in the game is to identify countries on a map of the world. There are a number of different categories of countries which you are required to identify. These include NATO members, NATO Partner countries and other countries who cooperate with NATO on security matters.

The NATO Map Game includes a study pack about NATO countries and NATO Partners. The game itself also includes definitions of the different NATO partnership arrangements with non-NATO countries.



If you want to learn more about the role of NATO before playing the NATO Map Game then you should view 'NATO on the Map'. NATO on the Map also helps to explain how the organization functions and how & where it operates around the world. NATO on the Map allows you to view which countries belong to the alliance, which countries it works in partnership with and its influence on global peacekeeping.

The map allows you to view the locations of NATO's civilian headquarters, military commands and headquarters around the world. It also shows examples of where NATO has sought to "project stability in its neighbourhood and beyond." A 'Security Challenges' layer shows some of the present global threats to peace and security that NATO and its partners currently faces across the globe.

Where Work Pays


If you've ever wondered if you could earn more money by moving home then you need to check out the Hamilton Project's Where Work Pays interactive map. This map allows you to see where people in your profession earn the most in the USA.

Where you work in America can make a huge difference to your salary. To find out where you could earn the most money you need to select your occupation (or a larger occupational group) from the map's drop-down menu. You can then view a choropleth map showing how much people in the selected occupation earn in different areas of the country.

You can refine the map to take into account your age. You can even adjust for local income taxes and the cost of living in each area. You can hover over an area on the map to view the exact median earnings for your selected occupation. You can also choose up to three different areas on the map to compare the salaries with each other and with the national median wage for your occupation.

The History of Hamburg Mapped


Hamburg Reloaded - Koppmann 1883 is a fascinating collection of 19th century photographs of the German city of Hamburg. The photos were all taken by Georg Koppmann, who established a photographic business in the city in 1865.

If you select an individual vintage photo of the city from the photo gallery you can view a map showing you the location depicted.  Mapbox GL is used to show the location in the selected photo. The map rotates and tilts to provide a reasonable approximation of the actual point of view of the historical photograph.

You can view early 20th century photographs of Hamburg on Hamburg Reloaded - Dransfeld 1930. This sister project uses the same format to display vintage photographs taken by Carl Dransfeld. Dransfeld was an architectural photographer who worked with Hamburg architects to document their buildings in the city.


Both the Hamburg Reloaded projects use Chronograph to map the vintage photographs of Hamburg. Chronograph has also been used in Chronograph Hamburg. Chronoscope Hamburg allows you to view vintage maps of the historical German city overlain on a modern interactive map. It includes old maps of Hamburg from the 16th, 17th, 19th and 20th centuries.

The Chronoscope map viewer allows you to select a map by its year of publication. It also includes a transparency tool which allows you to adjust the transparency of the selected vintage map to view or hide the modern interactive map underneath. If you want to learn more about any the historical maps featured on Chronoscope Hamburg click on the castle logo (top right of the map). This will take you to a page which includes details about each of the vintage maps (in German).


In Geschichtomat - Explore Hamburg’s Jewish History! Hamburg school students were set the task of exploring the history of Jewish life in Hamburg and exploring the traces of the city's Jewish past in their own districts. The students achieved this by researching Jewish life in their neighborhoods, questioning witnesses and studying historical documents.

The students were then asked to present what they learned about Hamburg's Jewish history through video, photographs and text. These presentations were then added to the amazing Geschichtomat Google Map. The map not only provides a great mapped record of the students' work but is in itself a great multi-media guide to Hamburg's Jewish past.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Languages Spoken in Toronto Homes


More than 200 different languages are spoken in Toronto. You can view where the 24 top non-official languages are spoken in Toronto on Social Planning Toronto's new Interactive Language Map.

The Interactive Language Map shows the top languages spoken at home in each census tract area (excluding English and French). Each census tract on the map is colored to show the most spoken language. If you want to view the percentage of people who speak the most spoken language just mouse-over the tract. If you click on the tract you can also view a list of the top ten languages.

If you select a language from the map sidebar you can view a choropleth map showing how many people speak the selected language in all Toronto neighborhoods. If you want to track the popularity of languages spoken over time then you can use the year buttons at the bottom of the map. These buttons allow you to view the data for languages spoken in Toronto from the censuses in 2006, 2011 and 2016.


You might also be interested in viewing the Toronto Visible Minorities interactive map. This dot map shows the minority status of every single person in Toronto. The map places a single point for every person in the Toronto area, coloured by their visible minority status.

The data visualized on the map is a little old now. It is based on information taken from the 2011 census and National Household Survey. It still might be interesting to compare the Toronto Visible Minorities map with the Interactive Language Map set to the 2011 census data.

Reconnecting Asia


Reconnecting Asia is an interactive map and database of infrastructure projects that are being developed across Asia. The map is focused on transportation projects, involving roads, railways, and ports, which have been developed or proposed between 2006 and today in the supercontinent of Eurasia.

Projects on the map are categorized into three categories - roads, railroads and ports. The map also includes a number of options which allow you to filter the map by type of project, date or locations. You can also search the map by individual project name. If you select a project on the map you can click through when more details are available. These details include information on construction dates, total cost of the project and details on the funders & constructors involved.


China has already spent more than 25 billion dollars on its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The initiative is designed to create the infrastructure to secure China’s trade routes and energy supplies. It is also being used to increase China's influence in the rest of the world.

The Mercator Institute for China Studies Belt and Road Tracker is an interactive map which shows some of the many BRI projects spanning Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. These projects include huge transport and oil & gas pipeline networks. The map sidebar allows you to show or hide different types of infrastructure project on the map. These include the railroads, ports and gas & oil pipelines which China has already constructed as part of its BRI. It also allows you to view railroads, ports and gas & oil pipelines which China plans to construct in the near future.

In One Belt, One Road the Financial Times also explores some of the construction projects being created by China to transport people and goods around the world. In The five main projects of the Belt and Road Initiative the South China Morning Post explores five huge Chinese infrastructure projects. These include a rail route from China to London, Gwadar Port, a rail route to Iran, the Asian gas pipeline and the Khorgas Gateway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Visualizing Street Orientation



If you seem to always be traveling in the same direction then it might be because you are. If you live in a large U.S. city then you probably spend most of your time locked in the city grid, traveling back and forth in the same old directions day after day, your direction of travel always determined by the orientation of the city's streets.

You can view how your city is orientated on Geoff Boeing's Comparing City Street Orientations
Geoff's post includes a number of compass rose visualizations showing the street orientation patterns of 25 major American cities. This series of compass roses reveals that nearly all U.S. cities have rigid grid systems. The only exceptions to the rule appear to be Boston and Charlotte.


A few years ago Visual Statistix also explored the road direction patterns in America. It also created similar visualizations for a number of European cities. These static maps with accompanying rose diagrams are a great visualization of urban road patterns. They are particularly illuminating in illustrating the differences between the planned grid-patterns of American cities and the more organic sprawl found in European cities.

VeloViewer were inspired by Visual Statistix to also explore how different city streets are orientated. Their blog post Interactive Road Orientation Distributions – How Ordered is Your Town? includes examples of compass road diagrams showing street orientations in San Francisco, Austin and Sheffield (UK).

VeloViewer also created an interactive map which allowed you to create a rose diagram for any location showing the street orientation in the current map view. The post includes a link to the map - although unfortunately the map no longer appears to work.


Data Pointed has also been experimenting with how you can visualize the orientation of city streets. Data Pointed however eschewed the age-old compass rose in favor of coloring the streets based on their orientation. Crayon the Grids is a series of maps in which the color of individual streets are determined by the direction that they are orientated. The results are pretty stunning.

This series of gorgeous visualizations includes maps of San Francisco, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, London, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Boston.