April 13, 2001
11:29 AM   Subscribe

David Rumsey is putting his tremendous collection of historic maps online. Using technologies from Luna Imaging and LizardTech, he has so far made available high-resolution images of over 4000 of the 150,000 maps in his collection.
posted by Aaaugh! (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wow, just beautiful. I love the manipulation/zoom tools on the right side. Every nice immersive design and DHTML use for information display.

Not to mention the amazing material being presented...
posted by mathowie at 11:42 AM on April 13, 2001


Did I ever mention that I am absolutely fascinated by maps, especially old ones? This site has a wealth of beautiful images that I could spend hours browsing. It's gorgeous. A ton of work has gone into it.

It's almost enough to make me forgive the fact that the site is simply evil. Opening up a non-resizable window with no browser controls? Popup windows that break the rest of the site if you close them? Double-clicking pictures to open them? No way to open more than one window? What IS this crap?

In the end the site is an extremely frustrating experience: it's stuff I really want to see, an astonishing heap of images that are not easy to find, all wrapped up in an excruciatingly awkward, nonstandard, nearly unusable interface. It's as though the site were designed to frustrate me personally. It pains me to think it, but I will not be going back.

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:55 AM on April 13, 2001

I still think that one of the greatest crimes I may have committed was in NOT stealing a map.

Some years back I worked part-time in a library, where I basically organized their disastrous Map Room. In one of my forays through the collection (1+ million items) I found probably the very first significant map of the Mississippi river, complete with little side-notes about the various indian villages, how many warriors they had, etc.

I could never manage to get the library to treat that map the way it deserved. It's probably still in the bottom of a drawer, getting all bent and creased. At least I got them to put it into a mylar sleeve...

Anyway, I've always felt that I should have simply stolen the damn map and given it the life it deserved. There weren't any tags on it, not detectors, no cameras, nothing. Hell, they've probably already thrown the poor thing away in one of their "collection reduction evaluations".

I dunno: which would have been the greater crime -- preserving something that's clearly of historical value by stealing it, or allowing said item to be destroyed by the lawful owner?
posted by aramaic at 12:37 PM on April 13, 2001

The interface is a bit hard to work with, but I was blown away by the sharpness of the images at all zoom levels. The detail and accuracy of some of the old maps is amazing. The Bachman panoramic map of the civil war era East coast is a jaw-dropper. I could (and probably will) spend a lot of time at this site. Thanks, Aaaugh!

aramaic, I would not have blamed you for "rescuing" that map, especially if you'd donated it to an institution that would have preserved it.
posted by gimli at 1:53 PM on April 13, 2001

aramaic: that map may not have been as unique as you thought. I suspect it was probably a contemporary copy rather than an original, and while worth saving, and probably treating better, not in itself a priceless treasure. So you don't have to beat yourself up.
posted by dhartung at 4:32 PM on April 13, 2001

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