Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Rapid Growth of Chinese Metro Systems

This remarkable animation from Peter Dovak shows the rapidly accelerating growth of metro systems in China, including Taiwan.
China's first metro opened in Beijing in 1969. Growth of the systems was modest up to 1990. From then until (proposed) 2020 you can see how quickly things changed. The animation is an adaptation from his wonderful mini metros project where he designed a bunch of icons for wordlwide metro systems, many of them instantly recognizable to many, such as Washington DC (bottom) - Beijing is the one below.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

English Settlement

 The English Landscape and Identities Project has some tri-variate maps of England showing eras of archaeological sites. The author, Chris Green, begins with an apology to those with color deficiencies. Because three color channels are needed, it would be hard to make this more legible to color blind readers*. The legend is shown first to see what you are looking at.
Darker areas are more "complex" - meaning there are sites from more time periods. The primary colors show more specific time periods as seen above. Magenta is Roman in case the image is hard to read.
There is a second map based on more local variation on the blog post, but I find this one easier to interpret. Some of the patterns that show up are settlement along Roman roads (magenta lines), some clusters of prehistoric sites in the southwest and northeast and a much lower level of intensity in the west (fewer archaeological sites here?) Some of the darkest, most intense areas are along major river valleys where quarrying activities have possibly uncovered more sites than average.

This map is based on available data and may not tell the full story but it does give an idea of the variation and complexity of archaeological records.

* This color scheme (via StackExchange) would have worked for color deficiencies.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Seattle Awareness Map

In 1978 the Seattle Department of Community Development published this map to raise awareness of the city's cultural landmarks.
Seattle Municipal Archives posted a scanned copy on their Flickr site. The cover is a nice grouping of buildings, statues and ferries.
Inside the map is densely populated with landmarks and yellow descriptive text bubbles,
sometimes with additional info or commentary added.
 Some more detailed scans can be found on Rob Ketcherside's Flickr pages.
One final view-because I briefly lived near the Arboretum Gate House

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LEGO Poland

Last year, the first LEGO store in Poland opened, in a Warsaw shopping mall. The event was celebrated with a huge 3D model of the country built by kids and adults.
Here are some photos from various stages of completion via this Flickr gallery.


A couple more from the Hive Miner page


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Follow the Advancing Japanese Empire

In 1942 this map was published in Japan for children so they could follow the progress of the imperial forces during World War II.
Japan, occupied and allied countries are shown in bright red. The map is full of caricatures of the natural resources of each area. Bold red arrows show the hoped direction of conquest.
Here are some details from northern Africa and southern Europe.

The map, titled "From the East, from the West" was produced at the high point of Japan's war effort for a children's publication.

-via History Today - where you can see the entire map.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mexico City's Shaky Laky Foundation

Mexico City, one of the world's largest urban areas is built on a lake. The Aztecs built what was Tenochtitlán on an island in Lake Texcoco, connected by causeways to the mainland.
When the Spanish arrived they decided to expand the city by draining the lake. They did not manage the water properly as the Aztecs had done. Draining and pumping water from underground has caused the city to sink. This in turn has caused very frequent flooding and also ironically made water scarce.

I was curious to see what areas of the modern day city sit on top of the ancient lake beds but have not found a map on the web that makes this very clear. This circa 1519 map on Wikipedia shows some locations, but not the modern urban area.
I took the .svg version of this map through a complicated software process and georeferenced it as best I can with my limited knowledge of the area. Here are two versions of this map overlaid on two different base maps to give and idea of where the ancient lake was. The first is on a National Geographic map via ESRI.
Keep in mind that the location of the lake is based on my best estimates. To avoid the assumption of higher level accuracy, I did not make a zoomed in version.
Here is another version using CARTO for the background. Each map has its advantages and disadvantages for legibility. On the one below, you can see the subway network which is kind of cool.
There are some interesting ideas of how such a large city can cope with the ecological and public health problems it faces including an ambitious proposal for a 145 million square mile Lake Texcoco Ecological Park - 23 times the size of the city's huge Chapultepec Park. Clicking the numbers on the map below, you can see some of the proposed projects.
The Texcoco Lake Ecological Park will become a tangible symbol of how our society can enter as an integral part into natural processes and help the proper functioning of the landscape.

Lake Texcoco Park is a work in progress, a vision of a remarkable place conceived by a collaborative group of scientists, engineers, biologists, chemists, ecologists, architects, urban planners, landscapers, and politicians.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Transit Voyeurism

1. Sydney, Australia programmer Ken Tsang created this live view of the city's transit system showing all vehicles.
 Every vehicle transmits its location and Transport for NSW has opened the data to the public. It shows all buses, trains, light rail, ferries, delays and track inspections. You can filter by vehicle type. The screen below also serves as a legend of sorts. Trains are in orange, buses blue, light rail red, and ferries green.
You can also see an online version of the station signs.
Just watching all the vehicles moving around is mesmerizing

NOTE: If you are in North America and looking at this early in the day, you won't see much activity because it will be the middle of the night in Sydney. Wait until later in the day and then see how things pick up.

-via EFTM

2. Will Geary, a data science student has created this wonderful video of a day's transit in New York and suburbs. It is not real time data like the one above but does show an incredible wealth of data - and comes with musical accompaniment!

- via City Lab

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Grand Theft Auto

I'm not much of a video game player so my ignorance of these things will be pretty obvious to the average gamer. Many video games have cool maps. What's interesting about the geography of Grand Theft Auto is that it is only sort of fictional - the names are different but the places are obviously recognizable. Here is a user created map of San Andreas created by Brazilian user DaniLekBom.
Names like "San Joan" and "Oakplace" are pretty thinly disguised. I like how he squeezed "San Donado" down at the bottom. You can just about see where the ESRI user conference takes place.

There's also a city in the desert. It's called Las Venturas. It has a strip! What was that inspired by? A couple of mysterious places inland like Endsville, Grapeseed and Coconut Springs have less obvious corollaries.

Vice City is another common locale in the game. Sometimes referred to as Vice-Dade County as if it wasn't obvious enough where it is.
Liberty City is also a very familiar looking place. Here's a nice map of it. Lots of green spaces - including a largely empty "Staunton Island."
A close-up detail...

Here is the entire United States GTA'ed.
I like how the Dakotas are renamed North and South Yankton and New Jersey becomes New Guernsey.

You can find these, and many more maps, including Europe, Asia and Africa on the GTA Mapmaking Forum.

NOTE: This is not an endorsement of a violent, sexist video game that may encourage crime and DUI (I don't know, I've never played.)  I'm only here for the maps.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pratts High Test Maps

I stumbled upon this pictorial map and was intrigued to learn more
What is a "High Test" map? It turns out that high test does not refer to the map at all but to a brand of fuel sold by the Pratts petroleum company. Alfred E. Taylor designed many of these pictorial maps for Pratts in the early 1930's and later for Esso (now Exxon) after they took over the Pratts company.

This linear road map hearkens back to the Peutinger Map and medieval itinerary strip maps such as this one.
Source-cartographic images
The Pratts maps have some wonderful details when you zoom in such as this compass rose,
"East West Pratts Best"
and some great ad copy for the quality of British roads.
"The main roads of England are incomparable for excellence, of a beautiful smoothness, very ingeniously laid down, and so well kept that in most weathers you could take your dinner off any part of them without distaste..."
Here is a detail from his map of the West Country including bathing recommendations and a poetic warning to seafarers. The full map can be seen on the David Rumsey Map Collection.
Quotes from Hamlet and Henry IV appear in this detail from his map of Wales.

I have found few details online about Taylor or these maps but many of them are available at antique map sellers such as Old Imprints and Jonathan Potter, Ltd.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Swiss Peaks

Peaks is a visualization of Swiss mountain peaks by Raphael Schaad, a designer at the MIT Media Lab.
He uses four colors to distinguish the language (there are four official languages in Switzerland) of each name. In addition to color (hue) he also uses lightness (value) to represent height. The highest peaks are almost white making the language more difficult to determine. As you hover over a peak, you get the name and height of each one.
There is an About this Visualization link you can click to get some insight into Raphael's design process. Here is a quote about the stories he looks to tell.
The first narrative explores the impact language has on naming (e.g. Romansh’ names have much wider reach than the region this language is spoken in), the second story shows common names (similar to almost every U.S. state having a Springfield), and the third one highlights three colors as common origins for names. Each of these narratives is also interactive and tied to the central map.
 I like way he presents the legends,
and the supplemental language details.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Ghost Cities of China

China has built dozens of "Ghost Cities" - not necessarily entire cities but new housing areas that far exceed demand and are therefore mostly empty. The poorly regulated climate of the country has contributed to fast growth in construction projects and made it difficult to get a good accounting of where all of these projects are located. Baidu, China's most popular search engine, used an algorithm to locate these places by comparing location data from mobile devices to housing units. Places with a high density of housing, but low mobile use are assumed to be areas of vacant housing. The map below shows 20 of the top 50 cities for vacancy rates. They do not show all cities or rank them for fear of having a negative impact on real estate sales.
The Baidu study used Baidu Maps, their mapping platform to determine density by using points of interest. The study is imperfect for many reasons, for example mobile use as a proxy for activity excludes people that do not use these devices. The study also factors in tourist areas as places that are empty during certain times of the year.

The study found that most of these "ghost" cities are "second or third tier" cities-tiers are determined by income, education, technology and other factors. They are also mostly clustered in the east and especially the northeast. Inner Mongolia is also well represented. These findings agree with a map compiled the South China Morning Post.
This map shows a "demolition index" based on future supply versus future demand for housing. The redder end of the spectrum are cities that are most likely to become ghost cities.  The results can be viewed interactively here. From the article:
"From the map, the 'ghost towns' are clustered in northeast China, where local economies rely heavily on natural resources, heavy industries and farming, and are not diversified enough to offer a variety of jobs."
Though some of these places and beginning to get inhabited, Business Insider recently used Digital Globe to showcase how empty many of these places still are. Here are a couple of examples.

Erenhot, Inner Mongolia - Large mansions along empty, sand blown streets.
Dongsheng, also in Inner Mongolia

More voyeuristic pictures can be seen at Business Insider