Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Album Covers of New York

A few years ago I did a post on maps on album covers - and a follow-up based on reader suggestions. Here is a map of the locations shown on album covers from Uebermaps, a collaborative platform that lets you create and share maps with others.
The above parts of Manhattan and Queens cover all kinds of stuff from West Side Story to Nas. A close-up of the Lower East Side takes in Bob Dylan, Foghat, the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and Led Zeppelin.
Another user created a map just for places mentioned in Bob Dylan songs. There is a clear spatial pattern of his wanderings.
Uebermaps showcases various other public maps, many in Europe such as this one showing record stores in Hamburg.
You can create your own account, take pictures and make your own maps. You can also embed them into your own site like this.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Aboriginal Language Map

The Aboriginal Language Map is an attempt to represent all of the language, tribal or nation groups of Indigenous Australia. Large groupings of people are mixed with smaller clans, dialects or individual languages. Created by David R Horton, it is based on language data gathered by Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS and Auslig/Sinclair, Knight, Merz, (1996).
The page has a nice magnifier so you can see the wealth of detail.
Some areas such as this part of the northern coast have some remarkably detailed diversity.
Cities appear on the map but the text is muted so the important details stand out.
In several places they mention that the map is not suitable for native title or other land claims. It is useful though for distinguishing between Waka Waka and Gubbi Gubbi.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

1915 LA Auto Trip Map

This map was produced by the Automobile Club of Southern California in 1915. It shows a 60-mile round trip from Los Angeles to Topanga Canyon.
Click to see it in higher resolution. Here is a detailed view if you don't feel like waiting for the image to load.
There are lots of nice details, including hatch marks for the hills, generalized grids in the built up areas, and grade percentages listed in the canyon. The mileages are marked in circles going counterclockwise from downtown LA. Seems odd that they would send you in that direction (all left turns) but maybe left turns were not a big deal in 1915. Reverse-direction mileages are also listed.

The map gives a good indication of what areas were settled in 1915. In addition to the obvious missing freeways there are also numerous boulevards that had not yet been built like Sunset Boulevard, west of Hollywood. Nevada Avenue shown in Santa Monica is now an extension of Wilshire Boulevard.

If you like this map, there's a treasure trove of Automobile Club of Southern California maps available from the USC Digital Library. Most of these are trips from or around Los Angeles. Some good auto club maps of San Diego can be found on John Fry's page - for example this one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mapping the Playgrounds

On a recent visit to Philadelphia, I came across Zora Plays, a playground mapping and documentation project by Michael Froehlich and his daughter Zora. They began visiting nearby playgrounds in West Philly, eventually expanded throughout the city and have now documented 162 playgrounds. Each has a detailed map.
This is the Jerome Brown Playground in North Philadelphia. A close-up shows the remarkable level of detail, especially considering how many playgrounds they have visited.
There are detailed reviews of each playground and lots of photos. I'm impressed that they have fearlessly ventured into some pretty rough neighborhoods with open minds and found some very nice playgrounds there - and a few that could use some TLC. Each page includes a linked google map like this,

and there is also an interactive map so you can browse geographically.
There is a link to reviews on a similar blog, the Philadelphia Playground Project. That project has covered the city more completely but they didn't map the playground facilities. let alone do it with this level of detail.
On my childhood visits to my Grandmother's apartment, I remember playing in Rittenhouse Square. There is no playground there (though climbing on the goat statue was lots of fun) so it does not make this list. However, nearby Fitler Square with its bear and turtle sculptures is on the list so I will finish with a map from my personal past.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Strange and Secret Totalitarian Capitals

This past Sunday was the 10th anniversary of Napyidaw, Burma's new capital. I did a post about how the country suddenly moved its capital far into the hinterlands with no explanation and under much secrecy. Much of the city is strangely empty according to those few outsiders who have visited. Totalitarian regimes like to keep their geographic knowledge to themselves. Another example is North Korea's Pyongyang.
Unlike Napyidaw, Pyongyang has a long history of settlement but because North Korea was closed off to foreigners after the Korean War, little is known of its recent development. An article from the Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division shows some of the rare maps available outside the country including this guide for tourists attending a 1989 youth festival.
The map is surrounded by pictures meant to highlight power and modernity.
More from the Library of Congress article:
Those who manage to enter the city are chaperoned and follow a strict itinerary; the practice serves to perpetuate both curiosity and mystery. Fortunately, geographic knowledge of the city has been growing by way of satellite imagery. Satellites, however, can only depict but cannot describe. 
 Click for for the full article.

Another country that like Burma suddenly moved its capital to the far northern hinterlands is Kazakhstan. In 1997 they moved the capital from Almaty to the small city of Akmola and then renamed the place Astana, "the capital" in Kazakh. Moving the capital allowed the government to centrally plan a monumental capital city, one full of strange modern architecture.
The map above, though hard to read details the top ten architectural wonders of the city in blue. Those wonders are listed on this page, and include the Baiterek Tree of Life (below) as well as the world's largest tent, serving as a mall and entertainment complex and also includes a river, park and beach.
Here is a picture via CNN of the modernistic capital complex.
Despite being the world's second coldest capital and being surrounded by many hundreds of miles of mostly empty grasslands, the city does have more life than Napyidaw. It is also much less secretive. Here is a cartoon-ish map of one of the business districts north of downtown, itself a ways north of the capital complex.
Lastly, I've always wanted to show some maps of Brazil's capital, Brasilia. While not the product of a totalitarian state, it is also a highly designed landscape created from a mostly blank slate. The design is meant to look like a giant bird or airplane. It looks cool on maps and aerial photos. On the ground, however it's a pretty bleak landscape. Here is the original plan followed by a map.
Here is a night shot from the International Space Station via Wikipedia.
Like these other capitals, they favor modernistic architecture.
On the ground however, it does not look like a warm, inviting place.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Burma's Ghost Capital Turns 10

Ten years ago today Myanmar (or Burma) suddenly moved its capital from Yangon (Rangoon) to Napyidaw, an area of rice paddies and sugar cane fields.
While the above map via mapsofworld shows many points of interest, the few westerners who have visited the secretive capital have described a mostly barren city full of empty superhighways as detailed in these pictures from the Daily Mail and the Guardian.
 An aerial view from Here Maps shows lots of empty space in the middle of town.

From the Guardian article.
The purpose-built city of Naypyidaw – unveiled a decade ago this year – boasts 20-lane highways, golf courses, fast Wi-Fi and reliable electricity. The only thing it doesn’t seem to have is people...


Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Philadelphia's data scientist Lauren Ancona has created this wonderfully practical guide to parking in the city. Parkadelphia shows streets colored by regulation - metered streets are red while residential permits are blue.
Zoom in enough and you can see the actual meters. Click on one for more specific regulations, including how many quarters you will need-for those of us who still use cash.
The site uses Mapbox, so it looks great on mobile devices, where you might need it the most.

The site is in beta so some of the regulations are under review. She is taking feedback from residents and has a nice little warning note in Philly-ese explaining the beta situation.
You can submit feedback from the white word-bubble icon in the top right,

as many have done.