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The Ebb and Flow Of History

A dynamic map of world history since 3000 BC. Link starts at 338 BCE, the year before the first conquests of Alexander.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jul 15, 2014 - 25 comments

A maze of twisty little borders, all alike

The world's most complex borders. Bonus: a closer look at Baarle, the Belgian Dutch Belgian enclave in the south of the Netherlands.
posted by MartinWisse on May 6, 2014 - 29 comments

40 Maps of the Middle East

Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack on May 6, 2014 - 8 comments

Terrabyte Incognita

Africa Might Not Look Like You Think It Does
There is no such thing as an objective map. This was true of cave paintings, Roman tapestries, and colonialists' charts of Africa. It is also true of Google Maps.

posted by infini on Apr 2, 2014 - 58 comments

The NYPL's Open Maps Project adds 20,000 High Res Maps

The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 31, 2014 - 11 comments

Paintings and Google Street View mashups

London to Amsterdam, Saint Petersburg and Tokyo to New York, well known historical paintings of city scenes around the world superimposed on to Google Street View by Halley Docherty (whose username is shystone on Reddit) | Google Street View Paintings by Raul Moyado Sandoval that he calls Metapanoramas | Also Paintings as Google Street View Maps via Lileks' wonderful Lint. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Mar 31, 2014 - 4 comments

How close do you live to a nuclear power plant? And other maps.

See how close you live to a nuclear power plant on this interactive map featured in Smithsonian. It's created by ESRI, home to all kinds of other maps, like the Battle of the Big Boxes, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the location of uninsured Americans, a Timeline of the UK's Tallest Buildings, and more. [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Mar 14, 2014 - 38 comments

A cartographic history of why North, not East or South, is up

How the north ended up on top of the map is an article by Nick Danforth, author/curator of (The/Mid) Afternoon Map blog, detailing how the north-up orientation came to be the default orientation, looking beyond Eurocentrism to Byzantine monks and Majorcan Jews who set the path for modern cartography. If you want more information, you might enjoy the Wikipedia article on the history of cartography, or you can really dig deep with the three-volume text, The History of Cartography, which is available in full from the University of Chicago Press online, split into individual PDFs for each chapter. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 18, 2014 - 28 comments

The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean

Over the course of nearly 20 centuries, millions of East Africans crossed the Indian Ocean and its several seas and adjoining bodies of water in their journey to distant lands, from Arabia and Iraq to India and Sri Lanka. Called Kaffir, Siddi, Habshi, or Zanji, these men, women and children from Sudan in the north to Mozambique in the south Africanized the Indian Ocean world and helped shape the societies they entered and made their own. Free or enslaved, soldiers, servants, sailors, merchants, mystics, musicians, commanders, nurses, or founders of dynasties, they contributed their cultures, talents, skills and labor to their new world, as millions of their descendants continue to do. Yet, their heroic odyssey remains little known. The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World traces a truly unique and fascinating story of struggles and achievements across a variety of societies, cultures, religions, languages and times.
posted by infini on Feb 6, 2014 - 9 comments

American Cities: Before and After

Smithsonian Magazine's interactive map series on American cities. [more inside]
posted by MoonOrb on Jan 31, 2014 - 4 comments

A spectacular historical atlas refashioned for the 21st century

Here you will find one of the greatest historical atlases: Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932. This digital edition reproduces all of the atlas's nearly 700 maps. Many of these beautiful maps are enhanced here in ways impossible in print, animated to show change over time or made clickable to view the underlying data—remarkable maps produced eight decades ago with the functionality of the twenty-first century.
posted by cthuljew on Dec 28, 2013 - 8 comments

Found at sea

An emergent map of the 18th and 19th century world
posted by spbmp on Dec 26, 2013 - 15 comments

GeoQuiz

Can you name a firth in Scotland where the dolphins have individual names? The destination of Haiti's Kita Nago parade? A Sami Village in Lapland where tourists go to see the Northern Lights? A former "city of pirates" on the Adriatic Coast? Every weekday, listeners of PRI's international-news radio show The World are treated to the serendipity of a brief journey to a distant point on the globe. It's part of the daily GeoQuiz, a challenging geographical trivia game enhanced with ambient audio, imagery, mapping, and revealing details of history and landscape. You can play along via Twitter or subscribe to the podcast - either way, this 5 minute vacation will make you a little bit smarter about this incredible planet.
posted by Miko on Dec 13, 2013 - 6 comments

Welcome to Offal Pudding Lane

Take a fly-through tour of 17th century London! Six students from De Montfort University have created a 3D representation of London before the Great of Fire of 1666. The digital model is based on the area surrounding Thomas Farriner's bakery in Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire began. The project is the winning entry in the Off The Map competition, in which students were invited to build 3D models based on maps at the British Library.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED on Oct 27, 2013 - 40 comments

Humming Ashokan Farewell While Viewing Is Optional

The Civil War Trust's animated maps provides viewers with a bird's eye view of American Civil War battles.
posted by Alvy Ampersand on Oct 9, 2013 - 10 comments

3-D Mappa Mundi

Mapping The Newest Old Map Of The World: A full-sized, 3D plaster relief facsimile of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the largest surviving medieval map of the world (Previously).
posted by homunculus on Jun 18, 2013 - 7 comments

The Poetics & Politics of Picturing the World

The atlas is more than a cartographic genre. It is a way of thinking, of ordering, and experiencing the world... In the age of Google Earth, this online exhibition of maps from the 16th to 20th centuries is meant to stir public interest in the history of the atlas and cartography.
posted by spamandkimchi on May 18, 2013 - 13 comments

Likely named for merchant William Fell

How the streets of San Francisco got their names: a fun little history lesson, nicely formatted as a giant clickable map (with search if you just want to look up a specific street).
posted by mathowie on Apr 29, 2013 - 36 comments

Perry Van Arsdale's maps of US historic events

In 1960 or so, Professor Perry C. Van Arsdale was helping his 7-year-old granddaughter researching the Santa Fe trail. He found his granddaughter's textbook to have some number of errors. He set off to create a map of pioneer history (prior to the 1900's), using his own knowledge and information from judges, sheriffs, and descendants of historical figures. This was his start in creating the Pioneer New Mexico map, which would contain 300 towns that no longer exist, old trails of all sorts (including the three historic Santa Fe trails and various camel routes), locations of minor squabbles and major battles, and because he couldn't fit everything on the maps, he also included extensive notes in the corner of the map. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 27, 2013 - 17 comments

All this energy calling me, back where it comes from....

The Cleveland Memory Project is an archive of photos, postcards, videos, recordings, clippings, ebooks, personal papers, maps and other historical "goodies" about the city. "It's a collaborative endeavor of many local historical societies, public libraries and government agencies who have mounted their own local history." On Flickr. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 18, 2013 - 5 comments

A screaming comes across the sky

Bomb Sight is an interactive map of every bomb dropped on London during the Blitz.
posted by empath on Dec 6, 2012 - 39 comments

Paleographic Maps

Ron Blakey makes paleogeographic maps of the ancient world.
The paleogeographic maps show the varied landscapes of the ancient Earth through hundreds of millions of years of geologic time, including distribution of ancient shallow seas, deep ocean basins, mountain ranges, coastal plains, and continental interiors. Tectonic features shown include subduction zones, island arcs, mid-ocean ridges and accreting terranes.

posted by zamboni on Dec 5, 2012 - 14 comments

What was the weather like on a certain day in April, 1891?

USF's collection of maps of America. Includes killing frost dates from 1911, Hog production circa 1860, 1900, Paths of Western Exploration and many more.
posted by Grandysaur on Oct 21, 2012 - 7 comments

A Handsome Atlas: 19th Century Data Visualizations

Rank of states and territories in population at each census: 1790 - 1890
Political History (Supremecy of Parties and Popular Vote)
Insanity (1870)
and more at
A Handsome Atlas: The Amazing and Incredible Statistical Atlases of the United States of America compiled in the final decades of the Nineteenth Century. [via projects]
posted by carsonb on Sep 12, 2012 - 11 comments

The National Map (US)

"The U.S. Geological Survey has just released more than 161,000 digitally scanned historical maps spanning in excess of 130 years and covering the lower 48 states. This Historical Topographic Map Collection provides a comprehensive repository of the landscape of our Nation..."
posted by Miko on Apr 20, 2012 - 19 comments

Disney Parks, Past and Present

Plenty of people collect Disneyana, the toys, books, animation cels, and theme-park souvenirs. Then there are those fans who collect information and details on the Disney parks themselves, collecting official park maps or drawing up their own ride blueprints, assembling the design history behind the attractions, and even collecting vintage tickets and ticket books. Yesterland (previously: 1, 2, 3) is an ever-growing collection of Disneyland history, and has an updated collection of links to similar fan sites and Imagineering blogs, which is a whole collection of rabbit holes of nostalgia and behind-the-scense information. So grab a riding crop and pretend like it's the 60s all over again!
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 15, 2012 - 9 comments

Old Books

Old Book Illustrations are vintage pictures that were originally wood engravings or woodcuts, etchings or metal engravings. Old Book Art is pictures, drawings, maps and other images from antiquarian, public-domain books and other old documents. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Mar 10, 2012 - 8 comments

The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway

Driving through Time features roughly 2700 photographs and 76 interactive maps of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The website allows students, researchers, and digital tourists to uncover hidden stories, hear forgotten voices, and understand the often wrenching choices that the construction and preservation of a scenic parkway in a populated region have necessarily entailed. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jan 22, 2012 - 4 comments

History on a delayed live feed

RealTimeWWII live tweets hourly events from the Second World War, delayed by 70 years. Charles Darwin writes entries in his diary as he travels the world a century earlier onboard The Beagle. The 1940 Chronicle covers events of the Battle of Britain as they happened day by day. For those more inclined to peripateticism, HistoryPin (previously) overlays historical imagery on modern scenes in Google Street View. If you'd like a perspective on your own activities in much shorter timeframe, TimeHop shows you what you were doing a year ago.
Semi-Related: 100 best blogs for your liberal arts education.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jan 4, 2012 - 5 comments

Ark of the Covenant: 2½-1½-1½ Cubits

Maps of Biblical Prophecy and History. Also Protestant distribution, oil pipelines, Mars, and more.
posted by Winnemac on Dec 10, 2011 - 14 comments

Creed Crusher, or Spiritual Mill for Pulverizing Creeds &C.

Creed Crusher, or Spiritual Mill for Pulverizing Creeds &C. is an 1867 poster by Dr. T. L. Lewis. In it, a pair of cherubs grind the religious and educational institutions of 19th-century against a an allegorical globe of philosophy dominated by the Great Ocean of Spiritualism. Below, Lewis quotes himself no less than four times. Similarly weird is the anthropomorphic map of Europe by Schmidt. (Both via the Big Map Blog previously)
posted by KirkJobSluder on Sep 13, 2011 - 25 comments

Africa: History, Cartography and Exploration

Evolution of the Map of Africa [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 7, 2011 - 15 comments

The History of Cartography

Free PDFs of The History of Cartography, vol. 1 and 2, from University of Chicago Press.
posted by Stan Carey on Jul 3, 2011 - 13 comments

Time Cube, 1893

MAP OF THE SQUARE AND STATIONARY EARTH. Send 25 Cents to the Author, Prof. Orlando Ferguson, for a book explaining this Square and Stationary Earth. It Knocks the Globe Theory Clean Out. It will Teach You How to Foretell Eclipses. It is Worth Its Weight in Gold.
posted by Faint of Butt on Jun 27, 2011 - 48 comments

Andreas Cellarius and his Harmonia Macrocosmica

Andreas Cellarius was a scholar of the 17th Century who produced one of the most famous cosmological atlases of all time, Harmonia Macrocosmica, featuring 29 beautiful plates (large, high-quality scans), illustrating various aspects of the Universe as understood by the Western science of his time. It's impossible to pick favorites among them, but here are three examples: Phases of the Moon, Sizes of the Celestial Bodies and Stars and Constellations of the Northern Sky.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 23, 2011 - 16 comments

maps of famous journeys in history and fiction

Wanderlust: GOOD Magazine, in collaboration with Graham Roberts, maps the most famous journeys in history - some fiction, some non-fiction. Wanderlust includes trips like Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth to the voyages of Marco Polo and Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight. However, it's not just a map with journey lines on it; Wanderlust is a history lesson. Select a trip for a summary and explore highlights of the journey.
posted by nickyskye on Apr 15, 2011 - 3 comments

A history of the world in 100 seconds

"Many Wikipedia articles are tagged with geographic coordinates. Many have references to historic events. Cross referencing these two subsets and plotting them year on year adds up to a dynamic visualization of Wikipedia's view of world history." Via curiosity counts.
posted by brundlefly on Mar 25, 2011 - 38 comments

Archaeology from above

HistoricAerials.com contains a surprisingly large database of aerial photography dating back to the dawn of aviation, with a Google-Maps-like interface. [more inside]
posted by schmod on Jan 11, 2011 - 15 comments

Map of Metal

An interactive overview of Metal history, in map form. Flash.
posted by zamboni on Dec 3, 2010 - 43 comments

Mapping the Republic of Letters

Mapping the Republic of Letters is a cartographic tool designed by students and professors at Stanford that seeks to represent the Enlightenment era Republic of Letters, the network of correspondence between the finest thinkers of the day, such as Voltaire, Leibniz, Rousseau, Newton, Diderot, Linnaeus, Franklin and countless others. Patricia Cohen wrote an article about Mapping the Republic of Letters as well as other datamining digital humanities projects in The New York Times. The mapping tool is fun to play with but I recommend you read the blogpost where Cohen explains how to use Mapping the Republic of Letters.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 16, 2010 - 15 comments

A Compendium of Obscure Things

Res Obscura is a blog by Ben Breen, a graduate student of early modern history, which styles itself "a compendium of obscure things." Indeed, even the asides are full of wonder, such as the one about Boy, the famous Royalist war poodle of the English Civil War, which is but a short addendum to a post about witches' familiars. Here are some of my favorite posts, Pirate Surgeon in Panama (and a related post about 18th Century Jamaica), vanished civilizations, asemic pseudo-Arabic and -Hebrew writing in Renaissance art, and a series of posts about the way the Chinese and Japanese understood the world outside Asia in the early modern period (Europeans as 'Other', Europeans as 'Other,' Redux and Early Chinese World Maps).
posted by Kattullus on Sep 30, 2010 - 16 comments

the city & ʎʇıɔ ǝɥʇ

Hypercities, currently in beta, is a collaborative effort to enable users to travel forward and backward in time within major cities of the world, watching changes take place over both the short (political protests in Tehran) and long (history of the city of Rome) term. Locative technologies are pushing the same ability into smartphones: Walking Through Time (Android, iPhone) allows the user to overlay their current location with a map of the past. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Sep 7, 2010 - 17 comments

Historical political maps

Thomas Lessman presents a selection of political maps of Europe, Asia and Africa throughout ancient and mediaeval history. Watch the changes on the map through the fall of Rome, peruse the patchwork of kingdoms in Southeast Asia at the heyday of the Srivijaya Empire, or check out just how much land Attila ruled at the height of his power. Some of his references have some good stuff as well, including more detailed maps of Europe for the last two millennia, as well as the staggeringly comprehensive Friesian history website previously linked on the blue.
posted by Dim Siawns on Sep 2, 2010 - 14 comments

How big is it really?

The BBC's Dimensions site lets you view a range of phenomena overlaid on different parts of the Earth. What if the moon was sitting on Alice Springs? What do the Pakistan floods look like if placed on England? What would the walls of Beijing look like around London? Much more to explore.
posted by Jimbob on Aug 19, 2010 - 11 comments

The Tornado History Project

The Tornado History Project: Google Maps meets historical data Tornado data turned into Google Maps that you can slice and dice any way you want: By State, by Date range, by Fujita number. Even records the path of long-track tornadoes. Hours of fun for weather weenies (like me!) and those interested in investigating trends over time. [more inside]
posted by spock on Aug 19, 2010 - 14 comments

Going (London) Underground

The London Underground. Every Londoner has used it, but has everyone really seen it? The old map is looking a bit dusty. Perhaps its time for Geographic precision or maybe 3D projection. If we add bicycles to the map, is it still an underground? [more inside]
posted by 0bvious on Aug 13, 2010 - 33 comments

I'm from Red River Land. And you?

The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles and the United States. For example, Britain = Great Land of the Tattooed, New Jersey = New Island of Spears, and Chicago = Stink Onion. There's now an iPhone app. However, at least one linguistic historian takes issue with some of their methodology. Mefi's own languagehat responds.
posted by desjardins on Jun 17, 2010 - 67 comments

Bully rocks:- impudent villians kept to preserve order in houses of ill fame

The Victorian Dictionary: A motley collection of primary source documents and reference materials about Victorian London by historical thriller author Lee Jackson. Read the 1841 Census, browse peroid advertisements, zoom in on the 1881 Pocket Guide to London or just learn some dirty words.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 19, 2010 - 17 comments

Do you know the way to Lost Dakota?

NPR looks at American States That Might Have Been You've probably heard of the proposed Mormon state of Deseret, but have you heard of Nickajack? What about Absaroka, the 49th state? I bet you forgot about Forgottonia. The author of Lost States has a blog.
posted by desjardins on Apr 7, 2010 - 33 comments

Streets of Pompeii

Ancient Pompeii Ruins now on Google Street View Today on Morning Edition I head this story. The Italian government has allowed the ruins of Pompeii to be photographed for Google Street View. It's very cool. (SLGM)
posted by sio42 on Dec 4, 2009 - 39 comments

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