I'm pleased to share a major new project on the history of slavery in the United States. Even after 155 years of mapping slavery, there are still serious shortcomings in most typical maps. My strategy looks for a way around the straightjacket of county-based data and the false impression of spatial precision implied by sharp county boundaries. I incorporate historical data on more than 150 cities and towns; I also use dots instead of counties. Not only does this help to distinguish rural and urban areas (which often had sharply different levels of slavery), but it makes it possible to see population density and the predominance of slavery at the same time. I've posted a graphic explanation of my strategy here.
The project also includes a map of "peak slavery" that shows the maximum number of slaves that ever lived in an area, along with the year of the peak. In the vast majority of the south, slavery was booming right up to the Civil War; only in Delaware, Maryland, and eastern Virginia was slavery in natural decline.
First is a collaboration with Michael Ralph on the history of slave insurance in the US. Most insured slaves were highly skilled, and they were disproportionately urban. They were usually rented to others — especially on Ohio River steamboats, in Virginia coal mines, and in skilled trades in Atlantic port cities. In many ways, what we see on the map is an unfree version of the emerging relationship between life insurance and wage labor in the north. And we know their names.
Second is a new version of my map of world railways, updated with new data and a much-higher-resolution download!
In the meantime, I had some fun with hemispheres.
1. Following up on my graphs of population by latitude and longitude from a few years ago, I got curious about other ways to divvy population besides the usual hemispheres of Northern/Southern and Eastern/Western. The big discovery was the Human Hemisphere, which is the hemisphere (out of all the infinitely many possibilities) that contains the most people. But we can also go one step further and calculate the population of every possible hemisphere — including your hemisphere!
2. The other hemispheric enjoyment was a slightly ironic update to Richard Edes Harrison's iconic "One World, One War" map from 1942. Instead of showing a global war of convoys and transcontinental bombers, my version — "One World, One Market" — shows global capitalism interconnected by ships, railroads, and container ports.
3. I also made some quick maps of the land and water hemispheres for Wikipedia.
Finally, on a notably unhemispheric note, I added a quick graph showing the changing demographics of New Haven since 1790. This has likewise found its way to Wikipedia.
But I'm really pleased to have three of my maps appearing in The Best American Infographics 2014 — just released today! And I'm not at all ashamed to admit that being in a book with an introduction by Nate Silver makes me unreasonably excited. One of those childhood dreams I never knew I had?
Also, as a follow-up to Aaron Reiss's interview–profile of me for The Atlantic's CityLab, where I discuss my five favorite maps, I have posted the full set of ten maps that I originally chose for my "long list," before Aaron and I eventually whittled it down to the final five. Enjoy!
This afternoon I'll be taking part in a live chat with the moderator. It would be great to have the conversation be as lively as possible — take a look and join us! Come one, come all! The chat will be at 2pm Eastern.
On a completely unrelated note, I also made a quick map of the alphabets of Europe.
The take-away isn't just that humans had already spread around the world by the time that Europeans started looking for new trade routes and tropical riches. There's also an important lesson about the ability for non-Europeans to navigate vast distances and reach most of the world's islands first.
(Note that the research for this map was not always straightforward, as it required integrating present-day anthropology with sometimes-vague historical material. If you know something that I don't know, please let me know!)
I picked four of the flattest areas I know (and love) and decided to make their flatness sing with the power of a thousand mountains. The result: a series of unfamiliar and wondrous microtopographical landscapes.
Now let's go climb some imperceptible cliffs!
What's the biggest city in the United States — New York? Los Angeles? How about ... Anchorage! After spending an evening exploring the politics of metropolitan annexation and city–county mergers, I made a quick series of maps of the inkblot patterns of municipal limits — all in comparison to Rhode Island, naturally.
I've also been interested in the contrast in identity-space between the geographically large cities of Texas, Arizona, or Southern California and geographically small cities like San Francisco, Boston, or Washington DC. The contrasts can often be striking: only 8% of the residents of the Boston metro area actually live in Boston proper, while almost two-thirds of the metro residents of San Antonio live within the city limits. Do geographically larger cities enjoy more civic-mindedness, in addition to a wider tax base? My gut says yes, but I'm afraid I don't have any actual evidence yet.
1. Where's the Midwest? I went searching, and the results are in.
2. Where's my family from? After a few months of getting dorky with old governmental records, I have some answers.
3. What's for lunch? Animals? Plants? Fungi? Algae? It's a cornucopia of Darwinian delights. (I suppose these aren't really maps in the geographic sense. But perhaps we can see them as maps of time?)
The sensibility here is similar to my other dot maps, but by doing a bit of math I found a way for ArcGIS to make smooth pointilist color mixes. The result is a hybrid of dot map and choropleth that seems quite promising for this kind of discrete data.
I'm very pleased to present a project by Daren Keene, who has been drawing a magical sprawling imaginary city using only a pencil and dozens of 8½" × 11" sheets of paper. Appropriately enough, he's named his city Pencilvania. Daren's maps share a sensibility with the well-known project by Jerry Gretzinger, but the aesthetic is quite different. Daren's maps mix high-tech, organic, and topographic forms into an incredibly detailed landscape that seems to oscillate between cartographic verisimilitude and pure abstraction. Start exploring!
I've also added several maps of my new home, New Haven:
Working with my fellow historian Sarah Potter, I made some historical maps of segregation in Chicago. These maps have appeared in Sarah's article in the Journal of Urban History and will also appear in her forthcoming book.
Would you like some simple wall maps of housing development in the DC/Baltimore area? They do a nice job showing the transitions between urban, suburban, exurban, and rural.
Finally, I also made some quick diagrams showing the relative sizes of the planets and added data for Venus to my planetary histograms. Exciting times indeed.
First, I made some similar maps for the Bay Area showing race and ethnicity, poverty, and education. Standard solid-color statistical maps are especially problematic in areas where there's a huge contrast between sparsely populated and dense areas, as is in many western American cities.
First, Andrew and Brian Jones have done an amazing thing. After Brian saw my astronomical calendar for New Haven, his brother Andrew decided to write a program that could make similar calendars for any place in the world. It's great! I've helped with some of the code and written a front-end interface to put the script on the web — now you can make your own calendar with just a few clicks. We've included all sorts of options, including the option to just let the script do everything automatically. Enjoy! (And please let me know if you run into any bugs.)
Second, I'm very pleased to host a project from Roberto Casati, Magda Stanová, and Stéphanie Roisin on the typologies of blocks and islands in Venice. It's a simple idea taken far beyond the ordinary. And the colors! Signor Nolli would be proud.
Third, I've created a response of sorts to Ben Fry's map of all the streets in the contiguous United States. By tracking down some good data for both the U.S. and Canada, I've made a map highlighting the real discontinuities of infrastructure policy on either side of the 49th parallel, rather than the data discontinuities that jump out in Ben's project. (This is no critique of his work; until recently, finding good road data was not easy.) The goal here is to see what kinds of questions we can ask once the data problem gets under control. This is especially relevant for understanding boundaries, since the idea of a boundary, the administration of geographic data, and the “ground truth” of geographic transitions are always intertangled.
Fourth, I had a short essay appear recently in the Boston Review, along with some more maps of race and income distributions in U.S. cities. I'm especially interested in challenging the “inner city” as a geographic euphemism, following up on those income donut maps I made a few years ago.
And finally, I added a link to the wonderful work of Armelle Caron. Lovely!
Astronomically, this calendar is valid for four points on the earth, all in the United States (in Connecticut, Illinois, Nebraska, and Nevada). With some easy modifications, however, it would apply to all points around the world at the same latitude, and could be used without much trouble a few degrees north or south as well.
I also uploaded high-resolution files. Enjoy!
In both projects I'm reacting in part against maps which show ethnic areas using solid homogeneous colors, often highlighting only the majority group — such as this Wikipedia map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or this New York Times map of Pashtuns in the Sulaiman Mountains. Not only do these maps fail to show local diversity or ethnic overlaps, but they visually reinforce the all-or-nothing logic of national territorial statehood that made the conflicts in question so intractable in the first place. These cases are crying out for new forms of mapping — mapping which could directly provoke new ways of thinking. (In other words, radical cartography to the rescue!)
I have high hopes of using such alternative cartographies to make a comparative series showing the morphologies of segregation across all major U.S. cities (something similar to my income donut project), but alas, for now I'm working on a city-by-city basis. In the meantime, see my wall maps of Phoenix for a different version of this same sensibilty.
As always, comments heartily solicited, and much appreciated!
Drop me a line — I'd love to know what you think!
Like what you see? Why not drop Brett a line and let him know!
Most of my energy has been directed to paper maps and exhibition material of various kinds:
1, Here are some wall maps of Phoenix that I'm quite happy with; the goal was to push conventions about land management and social statistics in ways that ask new questions about stewardship and segregation. I presented these maps a few weeks ago as part of the "Remapping the Desert" series sponsored by the Future Arts Research program at Arizona State University.
2, In the May issue of National Geographic are some maps of mine accompanying an article about mapping and territorial claims in the Arctic Ocean. I've posted some unpublished studies of climate, oil, changing territorial claims, and revisions to the map of the Arctic seafloor. The biggest thing to notice here is that the traditional idea that countries are bounded by a "hard shell" of a single perfect boundary is being revised even as I type; under the UN Law of the Sea, there is now a feathered edge of different maritime rights at different distances from shore.
3, Another wall map, just for kicks: world railways! I'm also inching my way towards tackling a world map in earnest; this is my first foray into some of the thorny issues of distortion, continuity, and conventions at the global scale.
4, Last spring I renovated my maps of American agriculture for an exhibition at the Harvard Graduate School of Design; they're a big improvement over the old ones, not least because data from the 2007 census is a lot cleaner than the 1997 data. I also made a quick animation of world cropland since 1700 for the same exhibit, based on data from agricultural geographers.
1, I lived in Washington DC this summer, and made a series of demographic maps to help myself get oriented. Take your pick: race, poverty, income, education, violence, or theft! Although it does take a while to find them, there are indeed cracks in the dichotomies of white and black, rich and poor.
2, Some more cheap fun with histograms, this time for Mars and the Moon alongside the earth.
3, Everyone loves intermodal transport. I’ve posted part of a pamphlet I did for a longshore workers’ union showing the NAFTA intermodal network. And it's for sale! (All proceeds support the non-profits that sponsored the project.)
4, A train leaves Chicago heading north at 50 mph. A second train leaves Green Bay going south at 45 mph. They pass each other along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. Quick — how far away is the horizon?
Finally, I’m pleased to announce that a few of my maps have been included in Daniel Tucker’s traveling map archive, which is part of the Experimental Geography exhibition curated by Nato Thompson. Right now it’s on display at the DePauw University art museum, and will be moving around the U.S. through 2010. Included are poster versions of my cities, reservations, and The Cargo Chain. If you happen to be heading through central Indiana any time soon, stop by and check it out!
Also! With some friendly help, I have succeeded in finally setting up an RSS feed for those who would like notification when new things are added to the site. There should be an RSS link in your browser’s address bar, or you can just click here to subscribe. And feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or problems! (I’m still learning how this works.)
Given infinite time, I would love to do similar analysis for different regions, or compare the U.S. to other countries. Time, however, is not infinite, and I must set these questions aside for now. But if you know of others who have done similar work, definitely let me know!
For a while I’ve been making things for Wikipedia, but never really felt they had a good place here. So I made some simple galleries for maps of physical geography, American history, and census demographics.
Finally, perhaps you will appreciate some of my dry humor.
More news and additions coming soon! Stay tuned.
One thing I’m not yet satisfied with: a better solution for the Greek sky would be to show the outline drawings from the Farnese, Mainz, or Kugel globes (the only ancient Greek graphics that survive), since connect-the-dot line patterns weren’t used in the West until the nineteenth century (the earliest I’ve found so far is 1831). But there don’t seem to be the right kinds of photos available, and using images from an early modern atlas seems problematic. Alas.
Oh, and I also found a place for J. Paul Goode.
I also posted a fun new version of the US–Europe scale comparison, fixed some problems with my maps of income donuts and toponymy in the Americas, and put the polyconic projection where it belongs in the table of projections.
As for my other life as a wikipedian, here are links to my maps of world drainage basins, antipodes, the geoid, the Adams-Onís Treaty, and the National Road. They're meant as relatively straightforward infographics; they're more illustrative than radical, but hopefully useful nonetheless.
Hopefully soon I'll have more to share, some of which will probably be in paper form.
And why not a reference table of common map projections? There are plenty of sites out there that give good explanations of all manner of projections; my table is meant mostly as a cheat-sheet to see what can be done with ArcGIS.
And speaking of fun projections....
And thanks to Neil for provoking a new version of the "US Empire" map, with a lot more data on military installations. I threw in a little mouseover as well, just for kicks. There are definitely still a lot of bases not on the map (the US has something like 800 overseas installations), but it now shows everything over 10 acres or a budget of $10m — the DOD's own cut-off for line-item inventory. Bases and operations in the Middle East may be a bit inaccurate, but authoritative data is probably going to be a wee bit classified. Same is true for things like anti-drug radar stations in South America.
Also added a mouseover to the "Economic Footprint" map showing US aid money as a percentage of GDP.
I also massaged some text sizes and column widths for better readability. Thoughts? Let me know.
Having received some complaints about a wonky interface, I've also redone all the code for the site. Everything should work better now. Let me know if something doesn't seem right.
As a follow-up to some of my thoughts about how to map minority population distributions, I did a quick series for Wikipedia showing the distribution of (self-reported) whites, blacks, asians, hispanics, American indians and Alaska natives, and native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders. You can find them on my wikipedia user page.
Also added a similar mouseover to the county-boundary page, and a nifty link to an animation of county formation in the US. Too bad the animation is too fast, with no running dates or graphical key.
I'm also putting up a map of roads in vancouver, color-coded by naming convention. And here's a shout-out to Nola, for whom I made the map.
Added as well a quick map of my travels through North America. Almost all in the same car, no less.. a car which by now has certainly seen better days.
And a big thanks to gothamist for posting a couple of my Manhattan maps!
And I've added a thing or two:
· Some more citations.
Also added a link to the EPA's Hazardous Waste Mapping (thank Chris for the link).
Also added a link to a map of the noise level of every outdoor space in Paris, an incredible feat of obsession and 3D visualization. Thanks to Alex for forwarding the link.
Perhaps I was also being too optimistic about the whole "other people besides me will have things to contribute" aspect of the site.. I think I'm becoming more comfortable with it just as my site, and not trying to make it into some warm fuzzy e-commune.
I also added a bunch of content. Namely:
· The entire "Yummy" section. Hopefully this will nudge the content a bit more towards the "radical" instead of just "obsessive" (especially since "analysis" definitely wasn't going anywhere). Email me if you want to add something! (or if you have a better idea for the name of this section)