Saturday, October 24, 2020


Here is an interactive map that you probably never knew that you needed. McBroken can tell you before you leave home whether the ice cream machine at your local McDonalds restaurant is working or is currently broken.

Every 30 minutes McBroken tries to order an ice cream from every McDonald's outlet in the United States. If an ice cream can't be added to the shopping cart then the map assumes the ice cream machine at the restaurant is broken. The results of all this furious ice cream ordering is the McBroken interactive map.

On the map all McDonald's restaurants with a working ice cream machine are shown with a green marker. Red markers show all the restaurants where it looks like the ice cream machine is broken. The map also provides some statistics on the national and local status of McDonald's ice cream machines. At the time of writing 7.5% of restaurants have broken ice cream machines. People in Phoenix are in the worst ice cream predicament. Over 13% of McDonald's restaurant in the city have broken ice cream machines.

Citites Without Light Pollution

There are lots of interactive maps which use NASA's 'Black Marble' or 'Night Lights' satellite imagery. to show the effects of light pollution around the world. NASA's composite Black Marble map of satellite images showing the Earth at night reveals how electric lighting in cities around the world contributes to the global problem of light pollution. 

The Light Pollution Map is just one of the many interactive maps which use this satellite imagery to show how human populations around the world contribute to light pollution. One of the problems with all this light pollution is that it makes it difficult for astronomers to view the night sky from Earth. The Light Pollution Map is very good at showing you where light pollution is located around the world. It isn't quite so good at showing you the effect of that light pollution on your ability to view the stars.

Clear Night Sky however does a very good job at visualizing what urban citizens around the world are missing because of light pollution. In Clear Night Sky the star mapping website Under Lucky Stars has taken 27 night-time photos of cities around the world and 'reimagined' them to show you how they would look if they were free from light pollution. 

On each of these 27 city views you can drag a slider to compare how each city's skyline looks at night (with the effects of light pollution) with how each city would look without the pollution blocking your view of the stars. I think you will have to agree that all these cities look so much more beautiful when you can see the stars shining above. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Half of All Americans Live Here

One of the perennial favorite map themes on the MapPorn subreddit are maps purportedly showing where half a country's population lives. Due to the fact that most people live in cities it is possible to create seemingly interesting maps showing that a large majority of people in a country live in a very small area of the country. It seems that some people are perpetually surprised that one result of urbanization and high population densities in cities is that last swathes of rural areas consequently have low populations. 

It turns out that you can make these maps a lot more interesting by making them interactive. Albert Zhang's County Counting to Specified Proportion is an interesting map which allows you to see where different proportions of Americans live. Change the percentage of the total population you want to see mapped and Zhang's interactive map updates to show the lowest number of counties where that percentage of the population lives.


If you set the percentage to a low number you can see that the places with the highest densities are the country's biggest cities - many of them situated on the east and west coasts. According to the map 50% of the country's population lives on less than 5% of its land. Set the population percentage to a high number and the Great Plains stands out on the map as the area with the lowest density of people. Although the map now looks very crowded that actual amount of populated land is relatively small. In fact 90% of the U.S. population lives on just 25% of the country's land.

The Global Emissions Map


The Historical Global Emissions Map visualizes carbon dioxide emissions around the world from 1750 to 2010. The map shows a gridded view of CO2 emissions weighted by the human population over time. This timeline view of the world's CO2 emissions provides a fascinating glimpse into the spread of the industrial revolution around the world and the staggering impact it has had on the world's environment.

Using the map timeline you can see how industrial revolutions in countries around the world have contributed to the huge growth in global CO2 emissions. Starting in 1750 we can see that there were negligible amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted around the world. However by 1809 the United Kingdom was emitting 33 metric tonnes of CO2. 

The birth of the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom led to a huge rise in the burning of fossil-fuels. The development of industrial manufacturing resulted in pollution and the beginning of the process which would kick-start global warming. 

In 1806 the United Kingdom was responsible for 94% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. However other countries around the world were not too far behind. Using the map's timeline we can see that just 41 years later, in 1850 the UK's share of CO2 emissions had fallen to 62%, as the USA, France and Germany had begun their own industrial revolutions. 

It would take more than 50 years for the United States to overtake the United Kingdom in the amount of CO2 emitted per person. In 1906 the United States emitted 12 tCO2 per cap to the UK's 11. By this time the United States was now responsible for 41% of the world's CO2 emissions and the UK's share had fallen to 18%.

If we fast forward a century the United States total share of the world's CO2 emissions has halved to 20% and China (22%) has become the world's largest CO2 polluter. Although in terms of per capita emissions the USA still leads the way, with 19 tonnes of CO2 being emitted per person - more than double the per capita emissions of nearly every other country in the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Climate Change & the California Wildfires

The Washington Post has created a powerful and emotive mapped visualization of the huge devastating wildfires which have destroyed 4.1 million acres of land in California this year. In How Escalating Climate Change Fuels California's Infernos the Washington Post shows the devastation caused by wildfire in one Californian town and then zooms out to show the extent of the devastation across the whole state.

The article starts with a zoomed in satellite view of the school in Berry Creek, California. A school destroyed by the North Complex Fire. As you scroll down the page you zoom out from the school to see the devastation caused by the fire in the whole town. Continue scrolling and the satellite view continues to zoom out to show the whole massive extent of the North Complex Fire.  

Starting from one particular school and one small town and then zooming out to show the whole extent of the fire is a clever way to show how the California wildfires have destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans this year. 

After this long zoom out the WaPo then proceeds to show how California's wildfires are being intensified by global heating. Now as you scroll down the page an animated heat layer shows how August's record breaking heatwaves resulted in highly combustible vegetation and a very high vapor pressure deficit (the amount of water in the air). In August California also experienced record cold, dry air fanned by relentless winds.

The combination of record temperatures, a high vapor pressure deficit and cold, dry winds created a perfect storm for the creation and spreading of fire across California. Five of California’s six biggest recorded wildfires happened this year. As climate change accelerates in the coming decades this level of wildfire is likely to become the new normal. Well actually it won't - because of continuing global heating the wildfire levels in California will become even worse in the coming years.

Earth's Climate from Space

The European Space Agency has released a new online platform to provide and visualize climate data gathered from the agency's satellites and space missions. ESA's Climate from Space platform uses interactive 3D globes, 2D maps and charts and graphs to visualize how the Earth's climate works and how climate change is leading to some drastic changes to the world's weather.

Climate from Space consists of two main sections - Stories and Data. The Stories section of Climate from Space provides a number of guided explanations of some of the global phenomena that drive the Earth's climate. This collection of stories also include investigations into how climate change is effecting the polar ice caps and contributing to biodiversity & habitat loss. 

The Data section of Climate from Space allows users to visualize ESA climate data on an interactive 3D globe or on a 2D map. These data layers include visualizations of CO2, methane, ozone and both northern and southern sea ice. You can select to view any of the available climate data layers on top of either a 3D  globe or a 2D map. It is also possible to select two different data layers and compare them side by side on two separate globes or maps. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The 2020 Bolivia Election Map

Elecciones 2020 is an interactive map showing the results of Sunday's presidential election in Bolivia. In the election the left-wing Mas party manged to win an overall majority, meaning that Luis Arce will become the country's next President.

Polling Stations on the map are colored to show the winning candidate. The blue colored markers show where Luis Arce, the Movimiento al Socialismo (Mas) candidate won the most votes. The other colors represent where the right-wing parties gained the most votes. The size of the markers appear to reflect the number of citizens who voted at each polling station.

The convincing win by Mas in Sunday's election is quite a turn around in fortunes for the party. Less than a year ago, in November 2019, Evo Morales was overthrown in a right-wing military coup. The coup, supported by the USA, proved to be disastrous for the country and the right-wing evangelical President Jeanine Áñez has been widely criticized for her handling of the country's Covid-19 response. 

Under Morales the Mas party had reduced poverty in the country from 60% to 35%. This had been brought about partly through the quasi-nationalism of the country's natural gas companies. A move which managed to vastly increase Bolivia's state revenues.   

The Mas party's support for the poor seems to have been repaid during the 2020 election. What is apparent from the map is that although Mas managed to win a landslide majority in the Bolivian election the party is most popular in the western poorer part of the country. According to the map Mas appears to be less popular in the richer eastern part of Bolivia. Many of the richer provinces in east Bolivia are home to the eastern cambas (European-descended Bolivians) - many of whom seem to still support the country's right-wing parties. However Mas has huge support among the majority indigenous population. 

Mapping the View from Mount Washington

In 1902 the Boston and Maine Railroad published an interesting map which shows the view from Mount Washington in New Hampshire. 

The Birds-eye view from summit of Mt. Washington; White Mountains, New Hampshire numbers all the mountains surrounding Mount Washington and identifies each of them in corresponding lists in each of the map's four corners. What is most interesting about the map is its 360-degree panoramic perspective. The mountain summit and the railroad station are positioned at the center of the map. The surrounding topography is then distorted and wrapped around this central view. 

If you held the map in your hands at the top of Mount Washington and rotated the map to reflect your direction of view you could then easily identify each of the mountains in your current vista. Unfortunately it isn't always so easy to rotate your computer's monitor. Which can make the map a little difficult to read online. 

Luckily however John Nelson and Jinnan Zhang have created a Rotating Bird's Eye View From Mount Washington map. Open up this interactive version of the Boston and Maine Railroad's map and you can rotate the map using your mouse's scroll-wheel. As you scroll the map rotates around its center so now you don't have to keep turning your monitor upside down. 

New York Has a New Subway Map

The New York Subway has a new interactive map. The new MTA Live Subway Map was developed by the digital agency Work & Co and the Transit Innovation Partnership to create a subway map which includes live data and even shows the network's trains in real-time. 

It is fair to say that reactions to the new map have so far been mixed. Those from a graphic design background seem to think that the map is a wonderful compromise between a diagrammatic and geographical transit map - while those from a cartography background appear to think that the result is an unholy mess. 

Transit maps usually have to make compromises between the simplicity of a schematic network diagram and the underlying real world geography. The new MTA Live Subway Map has attempted to actually marry a diagram with a geographical map. The main criticism of the new map is that while the MTA stations are in the correct positions on the geographical base map the MTA lines between these stations subsequently ignore the geographical reality of that base map. Lines therefore end up taking imaginary routes between stations (even through and across what appear to be new imaginary tunnels and bridges).

Where the map does work well is in providing real-time information on train arrival time, line availability (lines currently down are grayed out on the map) and even the real-time position of trains. Click on a station on the map and you can discover not only when the next trains are due but even how many elevators are currently in operation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Life is Getting Better - Maps Are Not!


Writing this blog can be a depressing experience. Sometimes it feels like I'm just writing about a series of maps illustrating catastrophic climate change, global disasters or just another election of an extreme right-wing demagogue. 

Therefore writing about a Guardian article on how life is getting better should cheer me up - but it doesn't.

In The maps that show life is slowly getting better The Guardian has created a series of maps to illustrate recent global improvements in life expectancy, improving education and the shrinking digital divide. These examples about how life is getting better are taken from the book 'Terra Incognita: 100 Maps to Survive the Next 100 years' by Ian Goldin and Robert Muggah. This book uses EarthTime's mapping platform to "illuminate the most pressing issues of our time."

The reason why these good news stories don't cheer me up is because the maps are so bad. To illustrate some of the ways that life is getting better The Guardian has created a series of before & after comparison maps. All these maps use screenshots from Carnegie Mellon University's EarthTime - with an overlay control which allows you to swipe between the before and after views.

The Guardian article starts with a eulogy to maps and their ability to inform and empower. Not these maps! 

The Guardian's decision to use static images of interactive maps just seems perverse. They have removed all the functionality of the original interactive maps and gained very little in return. If you are going to use static screenshots of an interactive map, you should at least crop out the zoom buttons. Your users probably won't then get confused by what appear to be buttons but which really aren't. Also if you are overlaying one map on top of another and allowing users to swipe between them then you should probably take a little care in making sure that the two maps are properly aligned. When they aren't aligned swiping between them just looks incredibly janky.

I don't know if life is getting better. I do know that The Guardian's maps are not. 

Berlin Airport in 3D


The Berlin Brandenburg Airport will finally open at the end of this month. The airport was meant to open nine years ago - in 2011. However a series of successive delays has led to its opening being pushed back time and time again.If you want to know more about why the construction of the airport was so slow the you should read Der Tagesspiegel's Why it Took 14 Years to Build.

To explain the delays Tagesspielgel could simply have listed all the problems that cropped up during the construction of the airport. That would have been the easiest approach to take. However Tagesspiegel went in another direction and instead created an amazing 3D map of the entire airport. A map that is so detailed that it is possible to fly inside individual terminals, travel along corridors and zoom-in on individual parts of the building in order to illustrate the areas actually responsible for the construction delays. 

Why it Took 14 Years to Build contains a level of excessive detailed mapping that we rarely see in the fast moving mainstream media. I think only the New York Times has created the same level of detailed 3D mapping in news reporting. In Reconstructing Journalistic Scenes in 3D you can explore a couple of superb examples of 3D mapping created by the NYT.

In this article you can explore a New York loft apartment and a Haiti shanty town in immersive 3D. In these two 3D tours you can see how the NYT is using photogrammetry to create narrated 'scrollytelling' like tours around a 3D scene. Both Tagesspiegel and the NYT have found a way of combining scrollytelling with 3D mapping to create truly amazing immersive illustrated news stories.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Wiki Maps of the World


Once upon a time Google Maps had a Wikipedia layer. Using this Wikipedia layer you could discover all the places around you which had an article on Wikipedia. This Google Maps layer was a fantastic way to learn about all the interesting, historical points of interest around your location. It was definitely one of the most useful functions on Google Maps. So Google got rid of it.

Luckily there are a few other interactive maps which can help you learn more about the world around you using information posted to Wikipedia.

For example, Wikimap is an interactive map of all the geo-tagged Wikipedia articles. Zoom in on any area of the world and map markers reveal all the nearby locations which have entries on Wikipedia. Click on any of these markers and you can read a short introduction to the selected point of interest and click-through to read the whole entry on Wikipedia. Wikimap is a great way to discover interesting things to explore near your current location.

You can also find nearby points of interest using Wiki Atlas. Open up Wiki Atlas and you can immediately view all the places around you which have a Wikipedia entry. Click on any of the mapped links and you can read the entry directly from the map. 

All the locations with a Wikipedia entry are shown on Wiki Atlas using colored markers. The colors of the markers indicate the category of the Wikipedia entry (culture, geo, society or STEM).  

Like Wiki Atlas and Wiki Map Geopedia can be used to find and read Wikipedia entries about points of interest around any location. Geopedia uses the Wikipedia API to load all the Wikipedia entries for places around a location on an OpenStreetMap based map. Enter a location into the search bar or right-click on the map and markers will show all the Wikipedia entries near your chosen location.

If you want to discover more about nearby points of interest then you can also use Wikimapia. Wikimapia is one of the most successful interactive maps of all time. For over ten years Wikimapia has provided a great map based resource for discovering information about locations and points of interest around the world.

In essence Wikimapia is a website which lets you describe locations in the same way that Wikipedia allows you to add and edit articles in its wiki database. Like Wikipedia it provides an invaluable resource for researching and discovering information about the world - except with Wikimapia every entry is a real-world location.

To use Wikimapia you just need to search for a location on the map. and click on any of the highlighted areas to discover information about the selected location. For example, if you see an interesting looking building on your daily travels, you just need to click on the building on the Wikimapia map to read its Wikimapia wiki entry.

The World's Most Winding Roads

I'm sure that many motorists and motorcyclists would agree that the most interesting roads to drive on are those that curve and twist, while the most boring roads are those which are long and straight and with very little deviation. If you agree and want to know where the most curvy roads can be found near you then you need Curvature, an interactive map that color-codes the world's roads by how many curves they have. 

The amount of curvature of individual roads is determined using OpenStreetMap data. Individual roads are divided into sections and the radius of curvature at every segment of road is calculated. Then the lengths of the most curvy segments are added together to get a total distance spent cornering.

You can also search for the world's most twisting roads on tortuOSMity. tortuOSMity also uses OpenStreetMap data to calculate the relative straightness of roads. The curvature of roads on this map is worked out using the tortuOSMity formula, where "curviness is defined as the average quotient between road length and end-to-end beeline distance of each osm way tagged as a highway"

Exploring both maps I have come to the conclusion that the world's most interesting roads are in mountainous areas and the most boring roads are in areas which are very flat. Both maps seem to show that elevation plays a big part in determining the straightness of roads. On both maps the most bendy roads seem to be in mountainous areas and the straightest roads appear to be mostly on fairly level terrain. This makes sense as you would expect mountain roads to contain a lot of switchbacks and relatively few straight sections.

Via: WeeklyOSM

Saturday, October 17, 2020

How to Win an Election

It turns out that stopping an epidemic and saving people's lives is very popular with voters. At least that might be one interpretation of the 2020 New Zealand election. 

Yesterday the New Zealand Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, won a landslide victory in the country's general election. At the time of writing the Labour Party even has a chance of winning an unprecedented overall majority, something that hasn't happened in the country since New Zealand introduced a Mixed Member Proportional representation electoral system in 1996.

You can view the results of yesterday's election on the New Zealand Herald's interactive map. In How New Zealand's New Parliament Looks the newspaper has published an electoral grid map which represents each electoral area as a colored square.

On this map each electoral area is represented by a square colored to show the party of the candidate currently winning the vote count (red squares for Labour, blue for the National Party and green squares for the Green Party). The color of the top left-hand corner of a square shows which party won the seat in 2017. If you click on a square you can view the number of votes cast for each candidate and for each party.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Roman Pompeii in Virtual Reality

The Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais (Rmn-GP) in Paris has created a Virtual Reality video which allows you to explore a villa and garden in Pompeii, as it would have looked before the town was buried under volcanic ash and pumice during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

The House in the Garden of Pompeii provides a 360 degree view of a real Roman house & garden in Pompeii. This VR experience shows you what the house looks like today and how it would have looked over 2,000 years ago, before the eruption of Vesuvius. The House in the Garden not only shows you an interior view of the house it also shows you how the house's garden appears today and how it would have appeared to its Roman owners before it was buried in ash.

Don't worry if you don't own a VR headset. You can still view the YouTube video and rotate the video to explore all 360 degrees of the Roman house and gardens even without a headset.

The Expo Pompeii exhibition at the Rmn-GP includes a restored statue of Livia. You can view this statue in your own living room using the exhibitions Livia AR application. Visit Livia AR on your mobile phone or tablet and you can discover what it looks like to have a full-size statue of a Roman woman standing in your home. 

Here are a few more virtual museum tours which you might enjoy:

The Uffizi Galleries Virtual Tour - one of the greatest collections of Renaissance art in the world
The Metropolitan Museum of Art - includes a number of virtual exhibitions
The National Gallery - London's National Gallery has a number of virtual tours
The Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close - a virtual tour of the museum's Gallery of Honour
The Sistine Chapel Virtual Tour - explore the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's astonishing ceiling
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural Museum - has created a number of virtual tours
The Stonehenge Virtual Tour - places you in the center of this mysterious pre-historic monument
Beijing Palace Museum - explore the museum's galleries and the amazing buildings of the Forbidden City
Buckingham Palace - take a virtual tour around the Queen's favorite pad 

Mapping Cholera in Amsterdam, Soho & Leeds

John Snow's map of cholera victims in Soho during the 1854 cholera outbreak helped to prove that cholera is spread by contaminated water and not by air. The cholera outbreak in London however was just one outbreak among many across Europe in the 19th Century. In the Netherlands for example there were major outbreaks of cholera in 1859 and again in 1866.

In Amsterdam alone 1,149 people were killed in the 1866 epidemic. In 1860 the Dutch Journal of Medicine published a report on the spread of cholera in the 1859 epidemic in Amsterdam. This report included data on all the cholera victims in the city. The recorded data included information on the addresses where each victim died, the date of death and even in which part of the house each victim died.

Kolerkaart has used the data from the 1860 Dutch Journal of Medicine report to map the 1859 cholera outbreak in Amsterdam using modern mapping technology. Kolerkaart includes a number of interactive maps which show how the outbreak developed over time, the number of cholera deaths in each neighborhood of the city and the number of deaths recorded in different parts of the house. These modern maps of the 1859 cholera outbreak reveal, among other things, that a relatively large number of people died in the outer ring of the city. The lasck of data on the location of pumps and water sources however mean that Kolerkaart is unable to prove a direct connection between contaminated water and the spread of cholera in Amsterdam.

Mapping cholera deaths was common even before John Snow's map of the 1854 Soho outbreak. For example Robert Baker's Sanitary Map of the Town of Leeds plotted the locations of deaths during the 1832 cholera epidemic in the Yorkshire town. Although Baker never made a direct link between cholera and contaminated water in his report to the Leeds Board of Health, Baker noted that "the disease was worst in those parts of the town where there is often an entire want of sewage, drainage and paving". 

In developing his theory that cholera was transmitted by water rather than air Snow was able to use the detailed statistics recorded by Dr William Farr. In 1838 Farr, a qualified doctor, was appointed to the General Register Office. This was the government department responsible for recording births, deaths and marriages in the UK. In his role at the General Register Office Farr was able to introduce a system which recorded causes of death. This data could then be used to look for geographical, environmental and occupational patterns in death rates and different diseases.

It was partly Snow's use of these death rate statistics which led him to believe that cholera was caused by germs which were transmitted by water. William Farr was impressed with Snow's germ theory of cholera being transmitted by water. However Farr himself believed that cholera was more commonly transmitted by air (the miasma theory). He even developed his own theory based on the idea that deadly miasmata are greater at lower than higher elevations. In his 'Report on the mortality of cholera in England 1848-49' Farr's detailed analysis of the distribution of cholera deaths in London actually established an apparent link between the rate of cholera deaths and elevation.

In this map from the report the red numbers 'denote the elevation in feet above the Trinity Highwater Mark' (image from the Wellcome Collection). Farr believed that the link between elevation and cholera was further evidence for the miasma theory. In 1854 Farr was a member of the Scientific Committee for Scientific Enquiries in Relation to the Cholera Epidemic of 1854. A committee which rejected John Snow's Broad Street pump analysis. The report concluded that "on the whole of evidence, it seems impossible to doubt that the influences, which determine in mass the geographical distribution of cholera in London, belong less to the water than to the air."

William Farr however was finally persuaded of Snow's germ theory of cholera and its waterborne transmission. In 1866 Farr himself wrote a report, which included detailed analysis of death statistics, to show that water and not air transmission was the most important cause of cholera. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Bay Area Property Tax Map

The Bay Area Property Tax Map shows how much property tax is paid by individual buildings in the Bay Area. Using the map everyone can see how much property tax is paid by every single building and home owners can see how their property tax compares to the amount paid by their neighbors.

The red markers on the map show the properties which are within the highest 10% in the current map view. The green markers show the properties which are within the lowest 10% in the current view. Yellow markers show clusters of properties. You can click on the yellow markers to see all the individual property taxes paid within that building. If you click on a property's marker on the map you can view the building's address, its exact yearly tax assessment and click on a link which will take you to the property's tax records page. 

The Bay Area Property Tax Map's GitHub page includes instructions on how you can add missing county data to the map from a county's property tax website.

Do You Live in a 15 Minute City?

In the last six months I have not traveled outside of East London. I do not own a car and at the moment I am reluctant to use public transport. Consequently my world has become a lot smaller. Luckily, however, I live in a '15 minute city'. Which means that all my essential needs can be accessed in 15 minutes from my home by foot or by bike.

The concept of the 15 Minute City was developed by Professor Carlos Moreno of the Sorbonne. The idea of the 15 Minute City is a new approach to city planning which wants to make urban living more liveable and sustainable by ensuring that all the essential needs of individuals can be accessed without having to get in a car or use public transport. The importance of this concept has become more apparent to many people during the current global epidemic.

The essential needs of individuals include such things as grocery stores, health care, cultural attractions, transit stops, educational facilities and leisure activities. You can answer the question Do you live in a “15-minute” city? by using HERE's new interactive map. Enter your address or zip-code into the map and it will show you all the Groceries, Medical Facilities, Cultural Sites, Educational Facilities, Transit Stops and Leisure Facilities within a 15 minute walk of your home. The map will also tell you if your address qualifies as a 15 Minute City or not

Currently Do you live in 15-minute city? only appears to work for addresses in the USA.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Indigenous People's 'Cessions' Maps

During the 1890s and 1900s government clerks were tasked with researching the history of the land transfer treaties by which the indigenous people of the United States lost their land. These treaties were referred to as 'cessions'. The government clerks tasked with researching these cessions drew up hundreds of maps which visualized the boundaries of each treaty. 

You can explore these cession maps on the new IDA Treaties Explorer. The IDA Treaties Explorer is a project by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe and the National Archives Foundation. The Explorer allows you to browse and read the treaties made with native nations from 1722 to 1869 which are now in the US National Archives. The IDA Treaties Explorer also allows you to view the digitized cessions maps of these treaty boundaries. 

If you enter your zip-code or state into the IDA Treaties Explorer interactive map you can view the cessions maps for your area. Click on one of the cession maps from your selected area and you can see a list of the cession treaties which are covered by the map. Click on a treaty and you can view the cession number, the indigenous tribes named in the treaty and the official names of those tribes as they are known today.

The result of these land transfer treaties were disastrous for indigenous people. The vast scale of this disaster can be seen on the Invasion of America interactive map. The Invasion of America is a map of all the Native American land cessions between 1776 and 1887. During this period the United States seized over 1.5 billion acres from the indigenous people of the USA.

The Invasion of America map includes a powerful animated timeline feature which allows you to view how the United States grew westwards by seizing Native American land through treaties and executive orders. This animated map, showing how the United States managed in a little over one hundred years to take nearly all Native American land, is a very powerful visualization of how the West was truly won stolen. 

The Second Wave is Coming

This animated map shows the arrival of a huge second wave of coronavirus cases in Europe. Over the summer most European countries appeared to have managed to get a grip on the virus. Although a second wave was expected most countries were hoping that if it did come it would come in the winter - and not at the start of autumn.

The map above can be explored in more detail at Corona Status Europe. The animated map provided by Corona Status Europe allows you to view a timeline of the number of positive test results (per 100,000 people) across European regions since the beginning of February. If you press play on this animated map you can view how the virus swept across Europe during March and April. In May and June most countries in Europe managed to get the virus under control. However since August the virus has begun to gain ground in most European countries.

The second wave of coronavirus has most definitely arrived in Europe. 

The data visualized on the Corona Status Europe map comes from Covid-19 Open Data and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

120 Years of Earthquakes


Eruptions, Earthquakes, & Emissions is an animated interactive map which visualizes volcanic eruptions and earthquakes around the world since 1960. The map also shows volcanic gas emissions since 1978 - which was the first year when satellites began monitoring SO2 emissions. 

This animated interactive map from the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program includes a timeline of volcanic and earthquake activity across the whole world. Using the timeline you can explore earthquakes and eruptions around the world for any year since 1960. If you press play on the map you can watch all this activty animated on the map over time. This animation of global volcanic and earthquake activity clearly reveals the so called 'Ring of Fire' around the Pacific Ocean.

More than 75% of the world's volcanoes and around 90% of earthquakes occur in and around the basin of the Pacific Ocean. This area is commonly called the Ring of Fire. The reason for all this seismic activity in the Ring of Fire is the presence of converging tectonic plates.

The Ring of Fire can be clearly seen in ResourceWatch's Global Earthquake Hazard Frequency and Distribution map. This interactive map visualizes all earthquake activity around the world, from 1976 to 2002, exceeding 4.5 on the Richter scale. The map shows that there was a lot of seismic activity on both sides of the Pacific Ocean during this period.

The Pacific Ring of Fire can also be clearly seen on John Nelson's Seismic Illumination. This map uses historical earthquake data going back to 1898 to show how earthquake activity can reveal the Earth's tectonic plates. By concentrating on the Pacific Ring of Fire the map is able to show how continental drift causes seismic activity where the Earth's tectonic plates grind beneath each other. 


This converging of tectonic plates can also cause volcanoes. National Geographics' How Volcanoes Threaten Millions is a fascinating exploration of the active volcanoes found around the 25,000-mile-long Ring of Fire. The article includes an animated illustration of how tectonic plates collide and create volcanoes.

The article is illustrated with a beautiful exaggerated relief map of the volcanoes and the population centers that they threaten in Indonesia. None of these volcanoes are actually in the National Geographic list of the top six life threatening volcanoes on the Ring of Fire. This list maps and names the six volcanoes that National Geographic believe are most likely to threaten humans. For each of these volcanoes the magazine gives its last eruption date and the number of people who live within 60 miles of the volcano.

30 Years of German Reunification

30 years ago, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany was reunified and became one country again. Back in 1990 there were large differences in the average incomes and life expectancy of people living in the former East and West Germany. After 30 years of reunification many of these economic and demographic differences have disappeared. However some of the inequalities between the two areas have proved more persistent.

The national German Mapping Agency and the Institute for Population Research has released 30 Years of German Unity & Diversity, which maps the demographic and economic developments in Germany since reunification. Using a series of interactive maps 30 Years of German Unity and Diversity visualizes a number of different demographic and economic metrics. 

These maps reveal that the differences in life expectancy between East and West 30 years ago have now largely disappeared. Immediately after reunification there was a relatively large flow of young Germans moving from East to West Germany. 30 years later the movements of young people between West and East has also more or less equalized. 

You can also explore German demographic and economic data on a Berliner Morgenpost map. The Berliner Morgenpost has decided to celebrate the reunification of Germany by allowing you to divide Germany into two again - and compare data between your two halves.

30 years of German unity - East West? North South? Or completely different? is a clever interactive map which allows you to divide Germany in two. Using the interactive map you can draw a line anywhere across Germany to divide the country into two separate sections. Once you have divided the country in two you can view a number of choropleth maps showing how the two divided sections compare - using a number of different social, economic and demographic metrics. 

These metrics include the difference in life expectancy between your two divided sections, the average age, the gender pay gap and even the number of Olympic medals. The map includes three pre-cut views which allow you to view the differences between the old East Germany and West Germany, the difference between South and North Germany and the region of Bavaria and the rest of Germany.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Mapping Voter Suppression

See Say 2020 is a new interactive map which anyone can use to report attempts to suppress votes in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. There have been many reports already of people being obstructed when trying to vote in the 2020 election. The See Say 2020 map provides a simple way for voters to report incidents of voter suppression and also provides journalists and voting rights groups with real-time crowd-source information on attempts to obstruct the 2020 U.S. election.

If you witness or experience attempts to suppress votes you can use See Say 2020 to report the incident. Reporting voting suppression or obstacles to voting just involves completing a short form, with the location, time and the nature of the incident. All reports of voter suppression will then appear on the See Say 2020 Map. Reports of voter suppression reported on Twitter are also being monitored. The See Say 2020 map therefore also includes reports of obstacles to voting which have been reported on social media. 

On the interactive map reported attempts at obstructing the ballot are color coded by the type of incident. Blue markers on the map indicate long lines at a polling station. Yellow markers show where people have reported voter intimidation. Red markers indicate absentee ballot issues and brown markers show reports of voter check-in issues. 

Sony's New 3D Map Library

Sony has released a new JavaScript map library for creating 3D maps. maprayJS is a JavaScript library which can be used to create interactive 3D globes and 2D maps. An access token is required to use the library but you can sign up to request an access token for free during the Beta testing of the library.

The documentation and 'getting started' page for Mapray are at the moment only available in Japanese. However you can get a good idea of the features and functionality of Mapray by having a look at the demo maps on the examples page. The Mapray GitHub page is also in English.

The 3D mapping on Mapray is powered by WebGL. The map library accepts geographical information from GeoJSON data. 3D models can also be added to Mapray maps using the glTF file format. Looking through the demo examples it is apparent that Mapray includes many of the features common to other mapping libraries, including the ability to add custom place-labels, overlay polylines and polygons, switch between different map tile layers and add map markers to created maps.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Amsterdam Time Machine

Amsterdam Time Machine has digitized a number of vintage maps of Amsterdam and made them available as interactive map tile layers. This means that you can use any of the digitized maps with the interactive map library of your choice.

The oldest map in this collection of vintage map tiles is a 1625 map of Amsterdam by Balthasar Florisz van Berckenrode. Balthasar Florisz was from an influential family of cartographers. His 1625 map of Amsterdam is oriented with South West at the top of the map. Therefore this geo-rectified digital version of the map appears upside down. You can view an interactive version of the map with South West still at the top, as Balthasar Florisz originally intended, on the Minneapolis Intstitute of Art website.


A 1724 map by Gerrit de Broen is also orientated with South West at the top of the map. The first map in this collection to be orientated with north at the top is the 1876 Neighborhood Atlas, printed by JC Loman.  The other three vintage maps are all 20th Century maps made by the Public Works Department of Amsterdam.

If you want to use any of these vintage maps then you need to look below the interactive map, where you can copy the relevant map tiles URL for the vintage map which you wish to use.

Friday, October 09, 2020

A Tapestry of Thrones

The Northern Ireland Game of Thrones Tapestry is a giant, 77 metre long medieval wall hanging, which depicts the whole epic tale of George R. R. Martin's fantasy novels in tapestry form. This huge hand-woven and hand-embroidered tapestry was created by a team of artists and illustrators. 

The tapestry is owned by the Ulster Museum Belfast but you can view it online at Northern Ireland Game of Thrones Tapestry. The tapestry is presented here in the form of an interactive map, allowing you to pan around the whole 77 meters of tapestry and to zoom into any of the details which catch your eye. 

The tapestry is organized in chronological order and depicts events from every single episode of all eight seasons of the Game of Thrones television series. As you pan around the tapestry the map tells you which season and episode you are currently viewing. The tapestry map also includes markers which provide more detail on key events depicted in the tapestry. However any fans of the television series will probably easily recognize all the scenes depicted - from the beheading of Ed Stark to the second coming of Jon Snow.

The Greatest City on Earth

Earth City is undoubtedly the greatest city the world has ever seen. Wandering around EarthCity is a visual feast during which you can view some of the most astonishing buildings ever created by the human race.

The amazing buildings of Earth City include the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower, the Hagia Sophia, the Taj Mahal and the Acropolis. Earth City also includes nearly all of the world's tallest buildings, including the Burj Khalifa and the Petronas Towers. Earth City is also a global center of incredible art where you can view the Christ the Redeemer statue and an ancient Egyptian giant Sphinx.  

In truth Earth City is a work of art which was created by the digital artist Thomas Feiner. The composition is a montage of some of the world's most iconic buildings created using CGI and photographs. The image itself has been made into an interactive map using OpenSeaDragon, a web-based viewer for high-resolution zoomable images.

Mapping a 19th Century Voyage

The Dmitrii Donskoi was an armored cruiser of the Imperial Russian Navy, which was built in the early 1880's. The ship spent much of its career in the Russian Navy in the Far East. In 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War, the Dmitrii Donskoi was damaged and forced to run aground on the South Korean island of Ulleungdo. 

During the 1880's amateur photography became a hugely popular hobby. Many Russian sailors took up the hobby and began photographing their overseas voyages. These sailors included midshipman Alexei Butakov of the Dmitrii Donskoi.

The Voyage on the Dmitrii Donskoi is an interactive map which showcases some of the photographs captured by Alexei Bukatov during his voyages on the Dimitrii Donskoi, particularly during the ship's voyages to the Far East. The map also features a number of other vintage 19th Century photos taken by other, mostly anonymous, photographers. The vintage photos and the map markers are synchronized to each other. Click on a photo and the map will zoom to its location on the map. Click on a map marker and the photograph of that location will be displayed. 

The Voyage on the Dmitrii Donskoi was created using OpenSeaDragon, a web-based viewer for high-resolution zoomable images. The result is an interesting, if not entirely successful, attempt at mapping vintage photographs. Navigating around the photos can be a little tricky and the introductory text zooms past far too quickly. However despite these problems the Voyage on the Dmitrii Donskoi does provide a fascinating glimpse into the Imperial Russian Navy and life on board a 19th Century armored cruiser. 

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Street View of 1960's Los Angeles

12 Sunsets is a new interactive map which allows you to travel back in time and view the Sunset Boulevard of the swinging 60's. All thanks to the fantastic photography of Ed Ruscha. 

At the end of the 1960s photographer Ed Ruscha extensively photographed the buildings on both sides of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. To capture these photos Ruscha mounted a motorized camera on the back of a pickup truck, which he then drove along Sunset Boulevard taking thousands of photos of both sides of the Strip. The resulting photographs were published in his book 'Every Building on the Sunset Strip'

The 12 Sunsets website allows you to explore Ed Ruscha's photographs of the Sunset Strip on top of an interactive map. The map appears in the middle of the screen, with the photos of each side of Sunset Boulevard appearing above and below the map. Ruscha has photographed the Strip at regular intervals ever since the 1960's. This means that you can view street view scenes of the Sunset Strip from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even from 2007. Just click on the year to change the date of the street view photos shown on the map.

My first reaction when viewing 12 Sunsets was one of disbelief. I couldn't believe that the site's designers had positioned the photographic montage of one side of the street upside down. Then I clicked on the 'Flip' button and my eyes were opened to the wonders of CSS transform properties. If you haven't done it yet - press the 'Flip' button on the 12 Sunsets interactive map. 

Los Angeles isn't the only city which can be explored thorugh vintage Street View photography. New York City also has extensive collections of vintage street side imagery.

1940's NYC and 80s.NYC are two fantastic interactive maps which allow you to explore vintage photographs of New York City street scenes. The photos on these two maps were taken by the Finance Department of New York City, at the beginning of the 1940's and then again at the beginning of the 1980's. During these two decades the Finance Department captured photographs of every single building in the five boroughs of the city. The pictures were then used to estimate property values in NYC.

These two interactive maps use the Finance Department's vintage photos of New York buildings to allow you to explore the streets of New York as they appeared in the 1940's and 1980's. Using the two maps you can travel back in time to see how your favorite New York streets have changed (or not) over the last eighty years. 

Vintage Maps of Boston


The Boston Public Library has released a new interactive map which allows you to view and explore vintage maps of Boston. Atlascope includes nearly 100 vintage maps of Boston, dating back to 1867.

The Boston Public Library collection of historical maps can help you explore how Boston has changed from the Civil War era right up until the modern day. The Atlascope interface includes options to compare any two vintage (or modern) maps side-by-side. You can also overlay one vintage map on top of another or view the two maps using a 'glass' lens view.


Fans of vintage Boston maps might also like the Birth of Boston website, which uses the Clough Land Parcel Map to explore the very earliest years of the modern city.

In September 1630 the English colonists in Trimountaine decided to rename their settlement 'Boston', after the English town in Lincolnshire. By 1648, eighteen years later, much of the Shawmut peninsula had been parceled out, claimed and settled by different colonial families. You can discover which families lived in Boston in 1648 using the Birth of Boston map created by Northeastern University.

The Birth of Boston is a collaborative project from Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Historical Society. The map uses the historical Clough Land Parcel Map to show Boston's early land parcels and who lived in them. Samuel Chester Clough was a nineteenth-century cartographer, who tried to map the early years of Boston using the data from The Book of Possessions, a nineteenth century catalog of Boston's historic registration records. The 1648 Clough Land Parcel Map plots the land lots of Boston in 1648 and describes who owned them.


If you are interested in exploring Boston's changing urban landscape even further then you should also check out Mapjunction. Bill Warner's impressive vintage map explorer allows you to compare old vintage maps of Boston side-by-side using an interactive mapping interface.

The vintage maps available on Mapjunction date back as early as the 18th Century. When you pan or move the map to a new location the available historical maps for the current map view are automatically loaded into the map layer menu (move the map to New York and you can explore vintage maps of New York instead). Simply select any two maps from the map layer menus to view them side-by-side.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Languages of New York

The citizens of New York speak around 800 different languages. The city is probably the most linguistically diverse area in the world. This diversity can be explored on a new map from the Endangered Language Alliance, which shows where some of the many minority and Indigenous languages of New York are spoken.

Languages of New York City is a fascinating interactive map which shows where about 650 different languages and dialects are spoken in over 1,000 locations in New York. The result is a snapshot of the linguistic complexity of NYC revealing some of the interesting clusters of different language families spoken around the city. For example there are a number of different West African languages spoken in Harlem and the Bronx, while Queens has a large number of speakers of many different Asian languages.

You can filter the languages spoken on the map by language family, global region or by country. Selecting an individual dot on the map will reveal information about the selected language, who it is spoken by and the language's history in New York.

Languages of New York City is a map of the many languages spoken in New York which aren't necessarily recorded in census returns. You can explore the results of the language data retrieved from the national census on a different map of New York languages. Languages of NYC is another fascinating interactive map of New York languages, this time showing the most frequently spoken languages at home in each census tract.

English and Spanish are the most frequently spoken languages in most New York homes. However Languages of NYC includes the option to exclude English or English & Spanish speakers from the map, which allows you to see what other languages are most frequently spoken in New York neighborhoods.

This interactive map also allows you to view the distribution of individual languages on the map. Using the check boxes in the map side panel you can select to view the census tracts where any language, or combination of languages, is most frequently spoken. It is also possible to hover over individual census tracts on the map to see the most frequently spoken language (excluding English & Spanish).

Mapping Dante's Inferno

Dante's vision of Hell consists of nine concentric circles. These circles represent ever increasing levels of wickedness. Sinners in Dante's Inferno are forced to live for eternity in the circle which best fits their Earthly sins. The outside circle is Limbo, where the unbaptized and virtuous pagans are forced to reside. The ninth circle of hell is reserved for those who are guilty of treachery against their friends, families or loved ones.

This Inferno is described in Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. Almost since the Inferno was first published in the 14th Century people have been attempting to map his vision of hell. One of the first maps of Dante's Inferno was created by Antonio Manetti. You can view an interactive version of his 'Section, Plan and Dimensions of Dante’s Inferno' at Cornell University Library - Digital Collections.

Manetti's schematic provides both a plan and a sectional view of Hell. It also provides the dimensions of each of the nine concentric circles.

A new interactive map Topography of Dante Alighieri's Inferno provides a more pictorial sectional view of Dante's vision of Hell. If you zoom in on this map of the Inferno you can learn more about the sinners in each circle of hell and the eternal punishments which they must endure.

For example - if you zoom in on the third circle (Gluttony) you will discover that here the gluttonous are punished by being forced to lie in "a nauseating slush under an incessant rain, while Cerberus barks above them". In the ninth circle (Treachery) those who have been treacherous to relatives are "buried up to their necks in ice".

The Topography of Dante Alighieri's Inferno is in Italian. However if you view the map in Chrome then Google's 'translate this page' option does a good job of translating the important sins and punishments into English.