Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The History of City Maps

Mapping a World of Cities is a fantastic timeline of historical and vintage maps of cities around the world. The project is the result of a collaboration between ten U.S. map libraries and collections, including the David Rumsey Map Collection, the Library of Congress and the Harvard Map Collection.

The Mapping a World of Cities collection can be explored by date using the timeline. You can also explore this collection of vintage maps of cities by individual map library or by world region. Each map in the collection includes a detailed description, including information on the cartographer, the date of its first publication and an explanation of what the map depicts. Each of the maps can also be explored as an interactive map, allowing the user to zoom-in and pan around the map in detail.

The introduction to Mapping a World of Cities describes it as a tool for exploring how cities develop. The collection is also a useful tool for exploring the development of cartography over the last few centuries. Under the hood Mapping a World of Cities uses the Knight Lab Timeline library to power the timeline control and the OpenLayers mapping library for the interactive maps.

If you are interested in how cities develop over time then you might also be interested in my Longer View of London interactive map. This story map provides a side-by-side comparison of two panoramic maps of London, created 274 years apart.

The earliest panoramic map in the Longer View of London is Claes Jansz Visscher's engraving of London in 1616. The other panorama is a more modern view of the city drawn by H.W. Brewer in 1890. When viewing these two panoramas of London side-by-side we get a fantastic view of London in the year that William Shakespeare died (1616) and the London of the industrial Victorian age.

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