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Posted by on Mar 2, 2011 in Featured Maps, Resources, Visualisation | 0 comments

World Transport Links and US Climate from The National Geographic over a Century ago

World Transport Links and US Climate from The National Geographic over a Century ago

Following my previous post I have been digging around archive.org for interesting spatial/ geographical related resources. A search for “geographic” yielded a number of back issues of the National Geographic Magazine. They date back as far as 1888 and contain some great images and maps. There are some real gems to be had, such as the “Scenes from every land” series (link to one here) that contain century-old photographs from every continent. I was also amused to see an article titled “Notes about ants and their resemblance to man“. I have shared a few of my highlights here. The top map is taken from the 1907 edition of “Scenes from Every Land”. It shows a map of the world with its key trade routes. I suspect today’s equivalent would be much more complex such is the nature of contemporary global transport. My final two favourites are taken from the 1894 edition of the National Geographic Magazine and illustrate climatic variables for the USA. The top shows the mean temperature...

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Posted by on Jan 21, 2011 in Featured Maps, Surnames, Visualisation | 6 comments

What’s in a Surname? (AKA United States of Surnames!)

What’s in a Surname? (AKA United States of Surnames!)

The typographic map above (click for interactive version) is a collaboration between Oliver Uberti‘s design team at National Geographic Magazine and and my own research with UCL Geography’s Worldnames database. It shows the top 25 surnames in each US State (totaling 181 unique surnames), their frequency and their country of origin. The text associated with the map goes as follows: “What’s in a Surname? A new view of the United States based on the distribution of common last names shows centuries of history and echoes some of America’s great immigration sagas. To compile this data, geographers at University College London used phone directories to find the predominant surnames in each state. Software then identified the probable provenances of the 181 names that emerged. Many of these names came from Great Britain, reflecting the long head start the British had over many other settlers. The low diversity of names in parts of the British Isles also had an impact. Williams, for example, was a common name among Welsh immigrants—and is...

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Posted by on Feb 7, 2010 in Resources, Visualisation | 0 comments

ESRI’s Free Maps

ESRI’s Free Maps

Following a slightly critical post about the map featured on ESRI’s Geomedicine website I thought I would balance things with a post on a good example (in my opinion) of a mapping service from ESRI. I was really impressed with their Free Embeddable Maps website. Users can select from a number of demographic measures such as population density,  median age, average household size and population change between 2000 and 2009 and map them at a range of scales. Maps can be personalised using a title and direct links to the creator’s website or their email address. My map of New York Median Household Income is here. It would be good to get more data and coverage beyond North America. It would also be nice to enable multiple overlays (perhaps using different forms of representation on the map). The page is only beta so these additions may follow. I know this kind of thing has been done before, such as with the London Profiler Website, but ESRI’s contribution is remarkably...

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Posted by on Jan 28, 2010 in Visualisation | 3 comments

Who reads the small print?

Who reads the small print?

As a proud ESRI Developer Centre we were disappointed to see the map on the front page of ESRI‘s recently promoted (via twitter) Geomedicine website. The front page (screen shot below) shows an interactive map of the USA. On it users can overlay heart attack rates (per 100,000 of population) and alongside data showing the locations of reported incidents from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory. Both imply a clear east/ west split across the US with the east fairing worse in both cases. An instant and perfectly reasonable reaction to this visualisation is that heart attacks are caused by the release of toxic material. I felt encouraged to make this assumption by the questions above the map: “What environmental exposures have you personally experienced in your lifetime?” and “Would any of this geographically rich information be useful at your next physician visit?”. Of course, medically, the natural conclusion from the map is spurious, so why have ESRI published it? Scroll to the bottom of the page to...

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Posted by on Sep 22, 2009 in Featured Maps | 1 comment

Roads Marking Landscape

Roads Marking Landscape

Ben Fry has produced a map of the USA’s landscape patterns by plotting only its roads. His All Streets project involved collating network data covering all the roads in the lower 48 United States (26 million road segments!) and mapping them (see below). It is a very simple idea that produces remarkable results. Roads are good representations of population density and the economic value of an area; they also try to follow a line of least resistance. Roads tend to avoid going across the grain of the landscape so you find them concentrating along valleys rather than up the side of mountains. This is clear on the West Coast of America, for example. The resulting image looks like it could have been taken from a satellite and works especially well due to the size of the USA and the quantity of its roads. Although nowhere near as effective, I have attempted to do the same for Great Britain (see below) using data from Open Street Map. From this you...

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