Tag Archives: Maps

How do you see the world?

If you ask a collection of strangers to draw a world map from memory what do you get?  With an understanding of map projections, we know there is no one “correct” depiction of the globe on a flat piece of paper.  But do people even get close?

Zak Ziebell undertook such a project and asked 30 people on the University of Michigan campus to draw the world map from memory.  He then combined the layers in Photoshop to produce one map as seen below.  One vision of the world from the University of Michigan.


The resulting map, in my eyes, is not bad.  New Zealand and England are forgotten, Greenland becomes part of North America, and the Middle East and India smush together to form some sort of African/Asian hybrid.  So it’s not great either.  Is this a sign of American Geographic Illiteracy as some of the online overseas community has suggested?  Or is it a sign of hurried impatience as a stranger approached a map drawer en route to more pressing matters?

I would love to see a similar project undertaken by people at all corners of the world; or even all corners of America.  I would love to see it undertaken without a political bent.  If somehow time of drawing could be controlled.  Would it result in an illustration of American incompetence or American impatience? Or both? Or Neither?

I probably would forget New Zealand too.  But would they forget the Great Lakes?

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Economic Mobility –

How feasible is economic mobility, actually?  Can you move up the ladder?

This new study by Pew Charitable Trusts Economic Mobility Project examines this question, on a state-by-state basis.  The geographic pattern that emerges is pretty staggering.  Though most states do not differ in any statistically significant way, you may want to stay out of the south if you want to go from rags to riches.  Check out the interactive version of the below map at the economicmobility.org.


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Ethnicity and City boundaries

Last year I stumbled upon this amazing set of maps of ethnicity and segregation in US cities by Eric Fischer.   Using  Bill Rankin’s map of Chicago’s racial and ethnic divides  as a starting point, Fischer mapped over 100 major US cities.  Using dot maps, he was able to illustrated racial and ethnic segregation in a dramatic way.  Just check out the below maps (first with 2000, then with 2010 data) of Detroit where white and black populations are strictly dividing along 8 Mile Rd.  In these maps “Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Gray is Other, and each dot is 25 people”

I highly recommend you check out the full sets: 2000 and 2010 on his Flickr site.  They are pretty mind boggling, and with the recent addition of the 2010 maps it’s interesting to see how, and if settlement has changed at all.   For the case of Detroit, Wikipedia asserts:

The 2010 U.S. Census showed a dramatic shift in demographic numbers as affluent and middle class African American, Asian, and Hispanic populations surge in Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw Counties, negating the tradition of 8 Mile being the racial divide of the Metro Detroit area.

While a shift is definitely occurring in Detroit, the above illustrates the long road the city must take before it achieves racial and ethnic integration.

The New York Times has recently come out with an interactive version of this map, across the entire US.  You may find this map easier to maneuver and navigate, and it has the benefit of including smaller urban and rural areas as well.  Either way, I highly recommend you check out Eric Fischer’s Flickr for his other phenomenal map sets, which I am sure to discuss at some later point here.

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We added a blogroll!

You can see it at the bottom of the page.  All of them are about maps; we’ll be adding some urban design stuff and planning stuff in the coming weeks (maybe).  But this week I had a little map-gasm, plus all these blogs have lots more content than we’ve generated so far.  Check them out and be sure to recommend any we missed.


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Typographic Maps

Ever since typography became trendy, more and more typographic maps have been hitting the scene (scene? is there a map scene?).  Everyone appears to be so thrilled at the intersection of typography and geography, that sometimes we seem not to stop and look at these maps critically.

An example of this, for me, comes from Ork Posters (find your city here)- who provide an intersection of neighbourhoods and typography.  Most of their prints are really cool:  good design, and fun and informative neighborhood layout.

Despite their popularity, however, I don’t think Ork maps reach their full potential.  All that empty space leaves me wanting.  And where’s the lake? And where are the suburbs?  In those cities that I am less familiar with, I’m left wanting something else.

And so, I went on a search to find typographic maps that really do it for me.  Maps that can integrate typography, but that also give a sense of the city, and a sense of the geography of the urban place.  And here are some new finds, and some old favourites.

1.  Axis Maps

I love the typographic maps from Axis maps .  They focus on street names and transit routes instead of neighbourhoods and it provides a really neat graphic experience.  Perhaps sticking to the gird leaves the map a bit sterile, but I think graphically it is much more appealing.

2.   Andy Proehl

I discovered Proehl’s set of typographic maps on flickr a while back, and his map of the Mississippi really caught my attention.  I love the idea of using typography to map the natural world, rivers, lakes, mountains.  I would love to explore this idea more.

3. Seagull’s Hut

I love the use of color in these city maps coming from Seagull’s Hut.  The inclusion of a background water color really gives a good sense of the underlying geography.   I particularly like this one of Zurich. Color choice leaves a bit to be desired, though.

More Soon.

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XKCD on Map Projections

XKCD on Map Projections

Though this is a slight departure on the theme of this blog, I thought today’s XKCD was a great (and humorous) way of illustrating how maps can affect the way we see the world, and space in general.

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The Ovo Urban Expansion Theory

Frank Jacobs, author of the blog Strange Maps (a perennial favorite of mine) just posted an article about how different methods of egg preparation can be compared to different eras of city building.  You should go look at it.

I wonder if you could use other food. Potatoes, maybe? Baked, mashed, turned into home fries?

Eggs are probably better.

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