Tuesday, October 19, 2021

San Francisco Before Colonization

Hidden San Francisco is an interactive map which reveals how San Francisco looked before it was colonized by Spanish missionaries in the late 18th century. The map displays the city's historical creeks and natural habitats which have long been destroyed or hidden by the development of one of America's most densely built urban environments.

In order to determine the location of San Francisco's historical creeks and natural habitats Hidden San Francisco used a number of different sources. This historical and ecological detective work included scouring the city's earliest surveys and oldest geological maps. Early written descriptions made by the Spanish missionaries who arrived in the area in the 18th Century were also consulted for their accounts of the natural landscape. Early photographs also proved useful in revealing details about the vegetation and natural habitats which existed in parts of the city before its urban development. 

Hidden San Francisco reminds me a lot of the Welikia Project's Beyond Manhatta map. This interactive map displays Manhattan Island and its native wildlife, as it would have looked in 1609. The map allows you to explore New York's original natural landscape of hills, valleys, forests, wetlands, salt marshes, beaches, springs, ponds and streams.

Like the Hidden San Francisco map Beyond Manhatta was developed by consulting the earliest historical maps which described the original features of Manhattan Island. Historical environmental conditions were also determined by taking soil surveys and examining tree rings. These surveys were reinforced by early historical accounts of New York, that were consulted for descriptions of the natural environment which existed before the city's development.

Unfortunately the Beyond Manhatta map is another project which has fallen foul of the increase in Google Maps API charges and the interactive map is now peppered with and partly obscured by ugly 'For Development Purposes Only' labels.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Why the Street Has That Name

Over the last few years I have become more and more interested in toponymy, in the history of the names given to geographical localities. In particular I have been fascinated by the many interactive maps which have now been released to explore and explain the etymology of street names.

Back in 2013 Noah Veltman released the History of San Francisco Place Names, an interactive map which explains the meaning behind then names given to streets in San Francisco. I was so inspired by Noah's map that I ended up creating my own Streets of London interactive map, which takes a look at the etymological history of road names in the City of London.

Over the last few years Geochicas has developed this etymological interest to explore and reveal the under-representation of women in street names. Their Las Calles de las Mujeres is an interactive map which reveals all the streets named for men and women in a large number of cities in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru, Italy and Uruguay. The inequality in the number of streets named for women compared to men has also been mapped in many cities around the world by the EqualStreetNames project. 

If you are interested in knowing the meanings behind the street names in your town or city then you could start by exploring the Open Etymology Map. The Open Etymology Map explains the origins of individual street names based on information taken from OpenStreetMap and Wikidata.

Using data from OpenStreetMap and Wikidata has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages in that Open Etymology Map has far more information about the origins of street names in some cities (e.g. San Francisco) than it does in other cities (e.g. London). The advantage is that you can improve the map in your town or city by adding etymological data to Wikidata. Open Etymology Map uses the OpenStreetMap tag "name:etymology:wikidata=*". This means that if you add etymological information for an individual street in Wikidata then I assume that information should then appear on Open Etymology Map.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Ships Waiting to Unload

Yesterday NASA released this satellite image of dozens of cargo ships stranded off the Californian coast, waiting to offload. High consumer demand and supply chain problems caused by Covid has led to record backlogs at the Port of Long Beach and at many other ports around the world.

Here is the same area of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean on MarineTraffic early on the morning of the 16th October (1.20am). This map shows that most of the same container ships are still waiting to unload. Cargo vessels on this map are shown in green. The green circles are cargo ships which aren't moving. 

Californian ports are not the only ports to be struggling with large backlogs of cargo vessels unable to offload. For example in the UK last week cargo companies were having to reroute ships from Felixstowe to European ports, such as Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Cargo and tanker traffic near Hong Kong

However the problems being experienced at the Port of Long Beach and Felixstowe pale into insignificance beside those of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The cargo ports of Hong Kong and Shenzhen currently have nearly 100 ships waiting to offload. This week the ports were forced to close for two days because of a typhoon. This only compounded the delays already being caused by Covid outbreaks. 

Ships waiting to offload

According to the Financial Times there are currently (as of yesterday) 584 container ships waiting to offload outside ports around the world. The FT explains that the current problems of cargo vessels being unable to offload has been caused by "Increased demand for consumer products, Covid-induced disruption to container ship schedules and a shortage of port workers and truck drivers".

Friday, October 15, 2021

The World's Carbon Center of Gravity

The Guardian has published an animated map which shows how the world's carbon 'Center of Gravity' has shifted over the last 200 years. The visualization reveals both how industrialization has been a disaster for the environment and how the major producer of carbon emissions has shifted from the UK in the 19th Century to the USA in the early half of the 20th Century and in the last 50-60 years towards China.

In How the world’s carbon ‘centre of gravity’ moved over 200 years The Guardian has calculated the carbon center for every year since 1800 by taking an average of each country’s latitude and longitude and by working out each country's annual carbon emissions. The countries which emit the most carbon in any year exert 'the strongest gravitational pull on the centre of emissions'.

The Guardian has included an explanatory note with its animated map pointing out that although China is now the world's largest emitter of CO2 there are still 36 other countries around the world that have per capita higher carbon emissions. 


The World Resources Institute has also created an animated map which visualizes carbon dioxide emissions around the world over the last 160 years. The Changing Global Emissions Map however doesn't show the carbon 'center of gravity' but instead uses scaled circular markers to show the total carbon emissions of each country around the world increasing over time.

If you use the timeline beneath the map you can view an animation of the growth of carbon dioxide emissions over time. The timeline shows that a few western countries have managed to stabilize and have actually managed to slightly reduce their emissions over the last few years. Unfortunately these reductions pale into insignificance compared to the huge growth in carbon emissions in the rest of the world.


The Historical Global Emissions Map is another mapped visualization of carbon dioxide emissions through history. This 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.

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 14, 2021

Real World Model Train Sets

Moving Hamburg is an impressive 3D animated public transport map for the city of Hamburg. The map was created using the latest WebGL features of the Google Maps API together with a little Three.js magic. 

If you zoom in on the Moving Hamburg map and tilt the angle of view you can watch the trains actually moving around the city's rail network in glorious 3D. The result is a little like having your very own model train set of Hamburg - only on an interactive Google Map.

Moving Hamburg reminds me a lot of Mini Tokyo 3D, the live real-time map of Tokyo's public transit system. This fun map shows the live position of Tokyo's trains in 3D moving around the capital of Japan.

Mini Tokyo has two different map views. If you press the eye icon button you can switch between the 'underground' (pictured above) and 'overground' layers. The underground mode highlights the city's subway system with colored subway lines on top of a dark base map. In this mode the overground trains are shown faded out on the map. The overground mode shows all the city's buildings in 3D. In this mode all the subway trains are shown faded out as they move around under the city and all of Tokyo's overground trains are shown in full color. 

You can have even more locomotive fun with Mapbox with Trains. Mapbox with Trains is a very impressive interactive map which allows you to watch a 3D train moving around on top of a map of Oakland, California. This interactive virtual train set includes a number of user options which allow you to control the number of carriages on the train and the camera's point of view.

In essence Mapbox with Trains animates a 3D model of a train on top of a Mapbox map, following the Bart train tracks in Oakland. The map is presented as an Observable Notebook which means that if you want you can fork the project to create your own interactive train set for the town or city of your choice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Historical Election Violence Map

Violence around democratic elections seems to be a growing problem in the 21st Century. To understand this problem and find possible solutions it might be a good idea to explore the violence which was prevalent around elections in Victorian England and how that pattern of violence was eventually eliminated.

The 20 general election in Britain between the Great Reform Act of 1832 and the Great War starting in 1914 were often accompanied by extreme violence. This violence often included major riots involving thousands of people, leading to the deaths of many people and large scale property damage. For example just on one day (17th November 1868), on the first day of polling in the 1868 General Election, there were at least 18 different riots across England & Wales. 

The Victorian Election Violence Map visualizes nearly 3,000 incidences of violence which occurred in England and Wales during the 20 General Elections held between 1832 and 1914. The map shows where violent election events took place, from minor incidents (such as the breaking of windows) to major political riots involving the deaths of many people.

For example a map marker placed over the Welsh town of Blaenavon recounts one of the 18 riots which occurred during the 1868 election. During this riot,

"property and businesses were vandalised and looted in the town, and the military arrived from Newport and cleared streets. 45 prisoners were marched to Pontypool and the soldiers returned to Newport. 1000 men from Blaenavon marched on Pontypool to rescue the prisoners"

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Segregation in America

According to the 'Roots of Structural Racism Report' Detroit is the most segregated city in America. Closely followed by Hialeah, FL and Newark, NJ. However these cities are not alone in having high levels of residential segregation. In fact residential segregation is becoming more common in the majority of U.S. cities.

The Roots of Structural Racism Report includes an interactive map, Mapping Race in America, which visualizes the levels of segregation in every neighborhood in the United States. The map uses data from the 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 & 2020 censuses to show the level of segregation in every census block area and how these levels of segregation have changed over the last 40 years.

On the map the most segregated counties are shown in red, while the most integrated are shown in blue.Using the map sidebar you can change the map to show segregation at the city level or at the individual census tract level. The map sidebar also includes a 'Year Selector' filter which allows you to observe how levels of segregation have changed over the last 40 years.

81 percent of American cities are now more segregated than they were in 1990. Only 40 of the 209 regions in the U.S. have become less segregated. The Roots of Structural Racism Report also looked at differences in income & poverty levels, home values, life expectancy, and rent prices between those areas which have high levels of segregation and those which are more integrated. This analysis discovered that people of all races fared worse in all these indicies when they lived in segregated 'Black and Brown' neighborhoods.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Czech Election Maps

Andrej Babiš, the billionaire Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, has been beaten in the country's latest election. His Action for Dissatisfied Citizens 2011 (ANO) party finished second in the popular vote behind the center-right Spolu (Together) alliance. Neither party has won by a large enough margin to form a majority government. 

The Spolu party has declared that it will not form a coalition with Andrej Babiš. Despite losing the popular vote the ANO 2011 party actually won one more seat than Spolu. However ANO 2011 looks to have no way to power, with Spolu and the liberal-left faction, Piráti-STAN, expected to enter into a coalition government.

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, had said before the election that he would ask the leader of the party with the most seats (which is ANO 2011) to form a government. However the president has become gravely ill and is now in intensive care. With the president incapacitated and no clear general election winner the country could be thrown into a constitutional crisis.

Czech newspaper Blesk has published an interactive map which shows which party won the most votes in each region of the country. If you zoom in on the map you can view the results in each election district. If you select an election district on the map you can view the exact number of votes and the percentage of votes won in the district by the biggest three parties. If you select the name of a political party from the map legend you can then view an interactive choropleth map showing how well that party performed in each electoral district in the country.

You can also view an interactive map of the 2021 Czech general election on the website of the newspaper Denik. The Denik map allows you to view the number and percentage of votes won by each party by selecting an electoral district. This map also allows you to see how each party has performed nationally by selecting a party name from the map legend. The Denik election results page also includes an interactive map showing the results of the 2017 general elections. It is therefore possible to view how each party has performed in this election compared to its performance in the last general election.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Mapping the La Palma Volcano Eruption

The ongoing volcanic eruptions of the Cumbre Vieja on La Palma is causing continuing disruption. Since the first eruption on September 19 more than 800 buildings have been destroyed and around 6,000 people have had to evacuate their homes on the island. 

Magma flow on OpenStreetMap

The magma flow from the eruption has forced the closure of many local roads. It has also led to a slight increase in the size of the island of La Palma. This means that all maps of the affected areas will need to be updated. A challenge which so far seems to be only being met by OpenStreetMap. OSM not only shows where roads have been closed by the volcanic eruption on La Palma, it also shows the extent of the magma flow from the eruptions and (where the magma has reached the sea) where La Palma has grown.

Google Maps

In contrast Google Maps has yet to update to show which local roads have been forced to close. Google Maps also has no indication of the location or the extent of the lava flow. Where Google Maps does win out is in showing the closure of local hotels, restaurants and other businesses. In the areas affected by the volcanic eruption and the magma flow Google Maps does indicate which businesses are 'temporarily closed'. 

HERE maps like Google has not updated its map of La Palma to show road closures or the location & extent of the lava flow. 

Apple Maps is a closed garden to which I do not have a key.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Aerial Archaeology

Historic England has released a new interactive map which identifies archaeological sites in England which have been identified, mapped and recorded using aerial photography. The map brings together and makes freely accessible over 30 years of aerial mapping projects.

When you are zoomed out on the Aerial Archaeology Mapping Explorer the map shows in red areas where aerial mapping exists. When you zoom in monument extents are shown on the map in grey. These grey areas show the extent of the archaeological features recorded at the site. If you click on one of these grey areas you can view the complete archaeological monument record for the site. 

From my brief exploration of the map this morning I think that the Aerial Archaeological Mapping Explorer has been designed not so much to give the public access to the actual aerial photography and LIDAR data captured by Historic England but to show where this aerial imagery has been used to reveal archaeological monuments. The map can therefore be used to discover where important archaeological sites can be found and to view each site's Historic Environment records and any available reports made about the recorded site.

If you are interested in viewing aerial imagery of what is probably England's most famous archaeological site then you might like Historic England's Stonehenge World Heritage Site Landscape Map. This interactive map allows you to view aerial imagery of 46 listed archaeological sites in and around Stonehenge, learn more about each site and download each site's report.

Historic England's 2002 National Mapping Project of Stonehenge discovered around 539 important archaeological sites around Stonehenge. About thirty percent of the newly discovered sites were prehistoric or Roman in date. These included ring ditches, field systems, round barrows and enclosures of various forms dating from prehistory.

46 of these new sites can be viewed on the Historic England map by clicking on the numbered markers on the map or by selecting them from the map sidebar. When you select a site from the sidebar or map, the map zooms to show the listed site and information for the site is displayed in the map side panel. A link to download the individual site's National Mapping Project report is also provided in the map side panel.