Saturday, January 04, 2020

The Medieval Streets of England

Over the last few months I have written a number of blog posts,
in which I have developed a theory about the spatial distribution of Streets and Roads in UK towns and cities.

Thanks to a recent development by Mapbox I have now been able to tie this theory together and illustrate it in one new story map, which I'm calling The Medieval Streets and Modern Roads of England.

In December Mapbox introduced 'in' expressions to the Mapbox GL JS. This new feature allows you (for example) to color roads on a Mapbox map by their type (road, street, close, boulevard etc). This new feature is perfect for illustrating my theory that you can tell the age of UK towns and cities by the spatial distribution of 'streets' and 'roads'. It has meant that I can create a new map with all roads called 'Street' colored one color and all streets called 'Road' colored a completely different color.

On my Medieval Streets and Modern Roads of England map all roads called 'Street' are colored red and all streets called 'Road' are colored blue. This means that it is very easy to see the spatial distribution of Streets and Roads in UK towns and cities. If you explore the map you will find that most UK cities have lots of red Streets in their historic centers, while outside of these city centers, in the more modern suburbs there are lots of blue Roads and very few red Streets.


Anonymous said...

Have very much enjoyed Google Maps Mania over the years, and the idea of Medieval Streets and Modern Roads is convincing. However, there is a glitch in the new map. Roads with St in their name are showing up in Red. Examples include Stockwell Road, Streatham High Road, Stable Yard Road, Stroud Road, St Mary's Close, St Aldate's, St Giles - to take some examples from London, Gloucester, and Oxford.

Keir Clarke said...

@Anonymous - thanks! Yes I am aware of that glitch. I mention it briefly at the end of the map. As you've spotted the map colors streets red based on whether they have 'st' anywhere in the name. So all your examples do indeed show up as red on the map.

Business Library said...

Hi @Keir, in your erratum you use the example that 'Saint' will be mistakingly [Sic] coloured red., but I think the examples from @Anonymous are more accurate because 'in' should be looking for those two characters together, thus "Stroud", but NOT "Saint", as in your disclaimer?

Are you querying OSM live? Would it be useful to get a data dump and clean up those instances, or the query itself so it only looks for 'St' at the end of a string? I guess we'd have to lobby mapbox to allow regex rather than just 'in'?

Neat findings!

Keir Clarke said...

@Paul - you are correct it is 'St' and not 'Saint'. The map is querying Mapbox's map data - so using a data dump would be a cleaner way of doing this. I've added a space to the query now - ' St' - which seems to pick up a lot of the errors - except for the saint (St.) examples. I don't think that Mapbox's 'in' expressions allow you to only search at the end of a string.