Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

Nolli map of Rome, Interactive version of 1748 masterpiece

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

screen-shot-2010-07-05-at-44744-pm

[Editor’s: I was reminded of Nolli’s work by Michal Migurski this weekend. Fresh off the heals of his award winning interactive version of the 2001 Atlas of Oregon, Erik Steiner presents the original Nolli map in a Flash-based interface to toggle annotation layers and zoom into the engraving. Extensive scholarly background is also provided on the site. Eric is now the lab director of the Spatial History Lab at Stanford University.]

Republished from University of Oregon.

The 1748 Map of Rome, by Giambattista Nolli is widely regarded by scholars as one of the most important historical documents of the city ever created and serves to geo-reference a vast body of information to better understand the Eternal City and its key role in shaping Western Civilization. The Nolli Map Web Site introduces students to Rome and the structure of its urban form; it illustrates the evolution of the city over time; and it reveals diverse factors that determined its development.

Giambattista Nolli (1701-1756) was an architect and surveyor who lived in Rome and devoted his life to documenting the architectural and urban foundations of the city. The fruit of his labor, La Pianta Grande di Roma (“the great plan of Rome”) is one of the most revealing and artistically designed urban plans of all time. The Nolli map is an ichnographic plan map of the city, as opposed to a bird’s eye perspective, which was the dominant cartographic representation style prevalent before his work. Not only was Nolli one of the first people to construct an ichnographic map of Rome, his unique perspective has been copied ever since.

The map depicts the city in astonishing detail. Nolli accomplished this by using scientific surveying techniques, careful base drawings, and minutely prepared engravings. The map’s graphic representations include a precise architectural scale, as well as a prominent compass rose, which notes both magnetic and astronomical north. The Nolli map is the first accurate map of Rome since antiquity and captures the city at the height of its cultural and artistic achievements. The historic center of Rome has changed little over the last 250 years; therefore, the Nolli map remains one of the best sources for understanding the contemporary city.

The intention of this website is to reveal both the historical significance of the map and the principles of urban form that may influence city design in the future. During the last half of the 20th century, architects and urban designers have shown a renewed interest in what the Nolli map has to offer, leading to new urban theories and a model for the study of all cities.

Interact with the map at UofO . . .

Top World Cup Players on Facebook, Day by Day (NY Times)

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

screen-shot-2010-07-05-at-43009-pm

[Editor's note: Kudos to Sean Carter and the New York Times graphics team. Most of these types of visualizations are done using Twitter's API, unique for Facebook? My only wish is for the timeline to have a play button.]

Republished from the New York Times.

Millions of people around the world have been actively supporting – or complaining about – their favorite teams and players. Below, players are sized according to the number of mentions on Facebook during each day of the World Cup.

Interact with the original at the New York Times . . .

You’ve seen one block, you’ve seen them all

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

beach

Ever look close, I mean real close at the imagery you seen in Google Earth and other online map providers? You’ll notice most of it, in the United States at least, comes from the USGS or USDA Farm Service Agency. But have you noticed they sometimes doctor the imagery to remove clouds or other collection artifacts? Well, look at the above image again ;) Here’s the Gmaps view in Tybee Island, GA. Thanks Andrew and Geoff!

New City Landscapes – Interactive Tweetography Maps (UrbanTick)

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

screen-shot-2010-06-30-at-13502-am

[Editor’s note: Series of maps showing twitter tweet density in New York, London, Paris and Munich (some but not all tweets are tagged with geographic coordinates) with hypsometric tints, contours, and placenames (with some literary license). A little more refined than those San Francisco crime maps floating around earlier this month. Thanks Andy!]

Republished from @UrbanTick

Over the past few months we have been harvesting geospatial data from Twitter with the aim of creating a series of new city maps based on Twitter data. Via a radius of 30km around New York, London, Paris, Munich we have collated the number of Tweets and created our New City Landscape Maps.

Continue reading at UrbanTick . . .

The 21st Century Grid: New Lines on the Horizon (National Geographic)

Friday, June 25th, 2010

screen-shot-2010-06-25-at-122145-am

[Editor’s note: Interactive map shows proposed renewable energy power plants and transmission lines in the United States and Canada. The print version by Martin Gamache and Sam Pepple is worth a look –– it composites the multiple themes into a single view, and compares with the current state of the power system in a separate map.]

Republished from National Geographic Magazine.

Can we fix the infrastructure that powers our lives?
By Joel Achenbach. Photograph by Joe McNally

We are creatures of the grid. We are embedded in it and empowered by it. The sun used to govern our lives, but now, thanks to the grid, darkness falls at our con­venience. During the Depression, when power lines first electrified rural America, a farmer in Tennessee rose in church one Sunday and said—power companies love this story—”The greatest thing on earth is to have the love of God in your heart, and the next greatest thing is to have electricity in your house.” He was talking about a few lightbulbs and maybe a radio. He had no idea.

Juice from the grid now penetrates every corner of our lives, and we pay no more attention to it than to the oxygen in the air. Until something goes wrong, that is, and we’re suddenly in the dark, fumbling for flashlights and candles, worrying about the frozen food in what used to be called (in pre-grid days) the icebox. Or until the batteries run dry in our laptops or smart phones, and we find ourselves scouring the dusty corners of airports for an outlet, desperate for the magical power of electrons.

Continue reading at National Geographic Magazine . . .

Flickr Shapefiles browser (MapToPixel)

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

europe-300x222

[Editor’s note: Also check out Aaron’s WOE ID browser (the geography behind Flickr). The Flickr API returns both ESRI format shapefiles and XML / JSON. The monster dump of all Flickr shapes is just XML, however. Thanks GeoPDX!]

Republished from MapToPixel.

Flickr Shapefiles are a set of polygons generated from the geo-tags of photos on Flickr. Using the names assigned by people to their own images the dataset offers boundaries of loads of places around the world. The code.flickr blog has more info and details of their generation. The idea is that using people’s tags of locations to form boundaries gives a large dataset of where people think particular places are.

The Boundaries project uses Flick Shapefiles to show neighbourhoods and their neighbouring places. Other than that there isn’t a huge amount of examples on the web.  I’ve put together an example that uses ModestMaps and the Flickr API to display the Shapefiles in Flash. The polygons are retrieved using a bounding box query to the Flickr API, decoded from JSON, drawn and may be identified with a mouse hover.

Continue reading at MapToPixel . . .

The Dictionary of American Regional English (WSJ)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

pt-ao927b_dict_g_20100610165436

[Editor’s note: Geography of vernacular language in the United States of America. Check out this post about regional names for drainage features like stream, creek, run and more. Thanks Chrys!]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By DALE BUSS

DARE to Be Finished—Maybe Next Year

The Dictionary of American Regional English gets ready to close the book on its already 45-year-old project

It’s axiomatic that even on the East Coast long sandwiches go by a host of names: hero (especially New York City), grinder (chiefly in New England), hoagie (mainly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and submarine (everywhere). Only if you’re an aficionado of the Dictionary of American Regional English are you likely to know that when kids still play hopscotch, they may call it “potsy” in Manhattan—but it’s “sky blue” in Chicago.

And it’s surprising how many different names Americans have for that strip of ground between the sidewalk and the street: “boulevard,” “grass plot,” “parkway” and “tree bank” are among them. So after a child abductor in the ’90s left a note demanding that ransom be deposited in a trash can “on the devil strip” at an intersection, a forensic linguist used this dictionary to help solve the crime—because the term was common only in a small part of Ohio.

For 45 years, DARE has been documenting America’s geographically variant vocabularies. Despite the conforming effects of air travel, television and the Internet, neither mobility nor media seem to be able to erase regional patois.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

One mulberry, and they’re carried home (Wash Post)

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

mulberries

[Editor’s note: Food geography mixed with migration and sense of place = psychogeography!]

Republished from The Washington Post.

In Washington, mulberry trees offer many immigrants a taste of home
By Tara Bahrampour

The rush-hour rainstorm didn’t faze Sara Shokravi as she parked in Rosslyn, ducked into a Starbucks restroom to change out of her work clothes and marched down to a narrow offramp that feeds motorists onto the Key Bridge. Ignoring the cars that splashed water onto the grass, Shokravi, a 27-year-old consultant, pulled out a plastic bag, stopped at a tree laden with red and black berries, and started picking.

It would not have been a strange sight in her native Iran, where at this time of year entire families can be seen at laying out bedsheets and shaking trees to collect the berries, which they eat fresh, dried or blended into juice. Here, she acknowledged, her foraging prompts “funny looks. This is D.C. — people aren’t going to go out of their way to get something if it’s not in a store.”

They don’t know what they’re missing, say mulberry fans, most of whom are immigrants. Just the sight of fruit-laden trees can conjure up sweet memories for people who grew up in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Far East.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

The postal service as geographic DNS (Orange Cone)

Monday, June 7th, 2010

envelope_-_boonville_address-small

[Editor’s note: The 2010 Census Address Canvassing does this already for 145 million residential address, thus proving the concept could be expanded to include commercial addresses. I’m always curious about the accuracy and precision of geocoders. How about “front door” instead of rooftop (which often just means parcel centroid)! ;) Thanks Michal!]

Republished from Orange Cone.
By Mike Kuniavsky.

I was recently at a bar with a bunch of other technology designers. The conversation turned to the postal service.

Problem: the US Postal Service is in financial trouble

America’s postal service was partially privatized in the 1980s, so it needs to make about as much money as it costs to operate if it’s to survive. It’s having a difficult time doing that and has lost billions of dollars per year for the last several years, borrowing from the federal government to stay afloat. As the second-largest civilian employer in the US after Wal-Mart (that’s a sobering statistic in itself, on several levels), this means that it has quite a bit of overhead, while being at the receiving end of two technologically-induced competitive challenges:

  • Casual letters have largely been replaced by email
  • And package delivery has to compete with FedEx, UPS, DHL

Moreover, these other delivery services don’t necessarily have to honor the post office’s mandated responsibility to deliver mail to anywhere in the US (this is called the “universal service obligation”).

Proposal: the Postal Service should become the geographic DNS….

Here’s what I came up with in the bar: the US Postal Service (USPS) needs to become the equivalent of the Domain Name Service for geographic locations. DNS is the digital service that translates human-readable domain names such as orangecone.com into IP addresses, such as 168.75.111.15. This, more or less, is exactly what the USPS already does, but it’s still tied to the sender writing the actual physical address on the letter. However, as any recipient of a slightly mis-addressed letter that still arrived knows, the service is actually pretty good at figuring out where the letter is going. The USPS is already resolving ambiguous address data into physical locations. It’s been doing it for years.

Continue reading at Orange Cone . . .

The Variety of American Grids (Greater Greater Washington)

Friday, June 4th, 2010

[Editor’s note: Geeky urban geography with map diagrams! See related post discussing cultural background for US grids and the example block sizes in the Washington DC metro.]

Republished from Greater Greater Washington.
By Daniel Nairn   •   May 31, 2010 9:54 am

I wanted a nerdy planning-related poster for my wall (other than the periodic table of city planning), so I made one this week. I scoured Google Earth and measured that quintessentially American grid in about a hundred downtowns around the country.

Of course, there are variations in block proportions within downtowns, but I tried to pick cities that had more uniformity than average to come up with a single prototype. (Washington, DC has very little uniformity.)


Click for the poster-quality version (large PDF).

Exploring these grid proportions messed with my preconceptions. I assumed the more western and newer cities would have larger grids than the more eastern and older cities, but no obvious pattern is discernible to me. Mobile, AL, settled by French colonists in the early 18th century, Tulsa, OK, a 19th century farming town, and Anchorage, AK, a 20th century frontier town, all share the same 300′ x 300′ internal block (street widths vary a little). What compelled the early settlers of these towns to choose, say, 220′ over 440′ lengths? I can’t say I have any idea right now.

Manhattan is also a curious story. According to Witold Rybczynski, the expanding nation unequivocally chose the 1811 Commissioner’s Grid of New York City over L’Enfant’s baroque-influenced plan for Washington, DC as the model for new towns. While this is surely true, it begs the question: why are New York’s long and skinny blocks not found anywhere else in the country? You would think at least one group of western settlers would seek to emulate their home town of New York more exactly.

I’m leaving aside the interesting value questions around block size. Ever since Jacobs, conventional wisdom has held that smaller blocks are preferable for walkability, but urban designer Fannis Grammenos challenges the grid somewhat in a Planetizen post.