Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is the always great Turkey Day, a wonderful time for getting together with family and loved ones, counting your blessings, and eating until you pass out.

What's that? You don't have a recipe for the potluck picked out?

Well, luckily, in 2009 the New York Times compiled what people were searching for the day before Thanksgiving using, and made a series of maps showing where those recipes were most frequently searched. That should be a lovely place to get some inspiration and choose something to make for your family. By far, the most popular search was for "sweet potato casserole"-- and with good cause. Those things are delicious!

It's interesting to see which search terms were extremely localized, such as "corn pudding" or "broccoli casserole" (visible to the left of the main map in the image below):

Hopefully flipping through those maps should give you some ideas, or at least a little entertainment.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Have you been hearing about the economic and environmental benefits of buying local produce, but are unsure of how to go about looking for the resources necessary to find what you need? Look no further!, founded in 1998, is a very helpful website that shows you farmers' markets, grocery stores, and many other places where you can get sustainably-grown produce, grass-fed meats, and lots of other interesting goods.

Here's a screenshot of the map on the front page zoomed in on Ann Arbor.

And there's no reason to think that produce will be unavailable during the winter months, either-- some of these places offer frozen or preserved foods as well as fresh.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Common Census

The CommonCensus Map Project is an attempt to map the 'spheres of influence' present in the United States, as reported by people who visit the site. It's interesting to see how, in some cases, people feel more influenced by big cities in neighboring states than anything within their own state.

As you can see from the zoom-in feature, the two most influential cities in Michigan are listed as Detroit and Grand Rapids, and we lose a corner of the state to Chicago's influence.

The site is still collecting data, so feel free to go and add your voice!

Friday, November 04, 2011

We're moving!

If you've been to the Map Library recently, you may have noticed that some changes are afoot. Later this month, we'll be moving to the second floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library to form part of the new Stephen S. Clark Library for Maps, Government Information and Spatial and Numeric Data Services. All of our wooden map cases were moved downstairs earlier this week, and more cases are moving today.

Moving cases out of the Map Library
Clark Library entranceway and display cases

The new reference desk

West side of the library
East side, facing the connector to the Shapiro Library

We're planning to open to the public on Monday, November 14th. There will also be an official opening celebration on Friday, December 2nd at 4pm.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Ah, Halloween. That special time of year (and my personal favorite holiday) where people don costumes and eat far more candy than they should. An occasion for spending time with friends and frightening off the evil spirits, and carving jack-o'-lanterns to remind us of the souls trapped in Purgatory. Or just because it's a fun tradition. 

In honor of Halloween tomorrow, here is a map created by Esri showing where the most money in America was spent on children's Halloween costumes last year.

Unsurprisingly, urban areas tend to spend more money, though sometimes they are outshone by the folk in suburban areas, which is shown by doughnut-like shapes of darker color-- for examples, look at the ones around Minneapolis, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Orlando, Floria.

I hope you all dress up and have a happy and safe Halloween!

Here is a larger version of the map.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Watersheds in Michigan

Watersheds, or drainage basins, are areas of land where all the water under it and all the water that drains off of it ends up in the same place. Oftentimes sediment, pollution, and fertilizer runoff can be deposited and concentrated in their watersheds, which is why it's important to remember to be cautious when dealing with substances that may end up in the groundwater.

The Hydrologic Studies Unit of the Land and Water Management Division in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality made this helpful map to let people know which major watershed they were in.

Washtenaw County is mostly in the Huron watershed, but fairly large parts of it are also in the Raisin and Stony Creek watersheds.

See a larger and more complete version (including the U.P. and the legend) of the map here, and read more about watersheds here or here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall foliage maps

The Weather Channel has kindly provided an interactive map for those who want to know when the peak colors of fall will be gracing the branches of trees in their area.

Here we can see that, in early October, the Ann Arbor region (as well as most of the rest of the mitten) was still a little short of its peak:

Stay tuned, folks! The best is yet to come!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oil Spills by county

Since 1990, over 110 million gallons of crude oil and petroleum products have spilled from pipelines across America. The New York Times maps it all out by county here.

More than half of the spills occurred in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, where there are more pipelines and thus more potential for equipment failure and corrosion, two of the more prevalent causes for oil spills.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Siege of Savannah

Today marks the 232nd anniversary of the beginning of the Siege of Savannah, which lasted from September 16th to October 18th, 1779.

In honor of one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War, here is a 1779 map of Savannah, Georgia by Pierre Ozanne:

During the Siege of Savannah, troops led by French Admiral the Comte d'Estaing attempted to reclaim Savannah, Georgia from the British. D'Estaing had just recaptured Grenada from the British, and there were high hopes for his success in Savannah. Unfortunately, the tactics employed on the Franco-American side were perhaps not the wisest (bombarding the city rather than the entrenchments, putting off the assault on British defenses until there were not enough supplies to last through a traditional siege), and the British won a decisive victory. They held Savannah until July 1782, near the end of the war.

For a detailed and zoom-able version of the map, click here.
To read more about the Siege of Savannah, click here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pop vs. Soda

The eternal debate-- when it comes time to ask which flavors of carbonated beverage a restaurant or friend has on hand, do you ask what kind of pop they have, or do you ask if they have soda? Or perhaps you prefer to call it all coke?

Unsurprisingly, your word preference has a lot to do with your geographical location, as is shown with this map:

Personally, I call it 'pop,' and have been given much grief by a friend in Virginia about it for years. But my Michiganian (sorry, don't like the word Michigander. Makes me think of geese) pride forbids me from calling it anything else.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Heartland: States United

This wonderful artwork, which was created by Beauchamping and sold on Etsy, depicts the United States arranged painstakingly so that, together, they form a big heart.

I'm amazed at how well it worked out, especially since the states were all drawn to the same scale and there was no skimping on the details of their borders.

Read more about it here. The original Etsy page can be found here.

Monday, August 08, 2011


Stephen von Worly got to thinking about the proliferation on McDonald's restaurants, and especially how they relate to society as a whole-- oftentimes, you can find these fast food joints (and others like them) along major highways for the convenience of those traveling long distances. He decided to make a map of the contiguous United States, colored by distance to the nearest McDonald’s:

Obviously the number of these restaurants corresponds with the population in any given area, which explains the spot in South Dakota that is furthest from any McDonald's-- someone there would have to travel about 145 miles to get some fare from the Golden Arches.

Read more about it on Mr. von Worly's site here.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The music of geography

There are some people who feel that music is their entire world-- others, like James Plakovic, choose to make the entire world into music.

All of the continents have been transformed into notes and the oceans are rests in this interesting take on geography, titled "World Beat Music."

The piece is written for 37 instruments, each reading its line across the map from West to East, which leads to some very busy-sounding sections.

You can read more about the World Beat Music, and listen to an interview with Plakovic (and the music being played!) here.

(The player should jump directly to the desired segment, but if not, the times are 36:20-41:25.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Moon, in color

The United States Geological Survey teamed up with NASA from 1971 to 1998 to create a series of beautiful maps of the Moon and other planets. These maps are color-coded to show geological materials and phenomena, and the result is something that wouldn't look amiss hanging in an art gallery. Here's a portion of the map of the far (or 'dark,' if you prefer) side of the Moon:

And here is one of the Moon's western hemisphere:

You can check out the Wired article on these maps here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

People movin'

Carlo Zapponi has created a wonderful visualization of the world's migration patterns as of 2010 using HTML5 technology. The project, called PeopleMovin and found at, has lots of information about migration in general as well as the country-specific numbers. For instance, about 3.15% of the world's population lives outside of their countries, and the United States is the most popular migrant destination. Refugees and asylum-seekers make up about 8% of all international migrants, and the majority of those (65%) come from North Africa and the Middle East.

This website is set up fairly intuitively, with two long columns stretching down the page, split into sections representing countries. If you click on a bar on the left-hand side, information will come up concerning the number of people who left the country and the country they went to. Here's the information for the United States:

The lines connect to the corresponding countries on the right-hand bar, and the thickness of the lines indicates the number of people who moved.

If you click on a bar on the right-hand side, you'll get information for all the people who moved into that particular country, and their countries of origin. Again, the thickness of the line indicates the number of people. Here's the United States:

It's really a beautiful interface, and it's very easy to lose some time playing around with it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

GOOD has mapped out some of history's most famous journeys, both fictional and factual, in an interactive map supplemented with information from each trip.

Here's a snapshot from Lewis and Clark's expedition:

Looks like Lewis found out the hard way that bears are serious business, though luckily he came out victorious in the end.

Read more about the map here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

World disaster map

The RSOE (the Hungarian National Association of Radio Distress-Signaling and Infocommunications) has created an EDIS: an Emergency and Disaster Information Service map that displays, in near-real time, events happening around the world.

Screen captures are from July 12, 2011.
You can click on any event's icon to get more information about it. For instance, on this particular day, there was an icon in Michigan:

Clicking on the "Details" link at the bottom of the bubble that pops up leads you to more information about the selected disaster or emergency. This particular one was concerning the storms that had been taking place.

It's an interesting and very visual way to keep up with what's going on in the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The birth of a nation

For the first time since Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1993, a new country has been born. Africa's largest country has been divided: on July 9th, 2011, midnight (local time), South Sudan became an independent state. They had held a vote in January 2011 wherein the response was overwhelmingly in favor of independence. The region had been torn by civil war for decades, leading to deplorable conditions and the deaths of as many as two million people. In 2005, a peace deal was signed, and six years later the plans for secession have come to fruition.

Image from

Sudan is predominantly Arabic and Muslim, while South Sudan has much more diversity, with over 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Islam and Christianity. These religious differences were a major cause for the strife between the two regions, as the North wanted to enforce Sharia law over the entire country.

The BBC has a great series of maps that show the differences between Sudan and South Sudan in many different areas, including ethnic groups, education, and food insecurity.

Though people are euphoric over the separation, South Sudan still has a lot of work ahead of it. It needs to disentangle its economy from Sudan. The first step is introducing its own currency, which will happen later this month. But another difficulty is the fact that South Sudan has the means to produce oil, but pipelines to transport it are in the North. There are huge problems with access to clean drinking water, food, and education. Infant and maternal mortality rates are high. And of course there is always the danger that a war-torn region might fall back on violence.

But there is hope for the fledgling nation, and Sudanese who left the country while it was under the rule of the North are making their way back home to the newly-independent South Sudan to help give it the best beginning it can have.

There is a lot of information out there, but here are a few good places to start: News from the New York Times, news from the BBC, and South Sudan's own website.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Connected States of America

Researchers at MIT Senseable City Lab, AT&T Research Labs, and IBM Research have teamed up and compiled a lot of anonymized data to create this interactive map that shows how counties interact with one another on the AT&T network. You can click on your county, or enter its name into the box at the left side of the screen, and see which counties across the nation are communicating the most.

Here is the call-time map for Washtenaw county. Other counties in Michigan and some surrounding areas get talked to quite a bit, as well as a few chunks of the East coast, West coast, and Florida.

You can also switch the map to show SMS data instead of call time, which gives you a slightly different picture:

Though the data is slightly different, the hot spots remain unchanged, for the most part.

You can read more about this research here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Drought in the Southwest

While some areas of the country are having an overabundance of water, the Southwest is struggling with a lack of moisture. The U.S. Drought Monitor has a lot of interesting maps and data that show the changing levels across the nation. Their archive is very helpful, as it lets you compare two sets of data side by side.

For instance, we can compare this year's most recent map with a map created last year at the same time.

A large portion of the southernmost part of the map is taken up by dark red, indicating an exceptional drought. Texas is hit exceptionally hard.

When this year's map is compared to the map from 2010, it's plain to see that conditions are much worse this year. Though 2010 was not without its 'abnormally dry' patches, there were no 'exceptional droughts.'

The archive can show a table with numerical data for the selected months as well. For the June 28, 2011 map, 11.94% of the United States is experiencing an exceptional drought, and areas with less severe droughts are also increased.

In fact, another feature of the archives at the U.S. Drought Monitor is a graph that shows the data since January of 2000.

The data on this graph goes back more than a decade, and the dark red bump we're currently on is the biggest yet, with 11.84% of America's land suffering from that extreme drought. For comparison, the next-biggest bump, in mid-2002, had the extreme drought percentage at 7.85.

So let's all think rainy thoughts for our southern states, and hope that the drought ends soon and without much more impact than it's already had.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Remember your roots

Fifty, nifty, United States, from the thirteen original colonies~

On our nation's birthday, it's important to remember our roots:

From Wikipedia
Whatever your plans today, stop and take a moment to think of the crazy ride that got us to where we are today, and see if you can muster the patriotism for a hearty, unironic chant of "USA! USA! USA!" (It's okay if you just do it in your head.)

And please celebrate responsibly! For your viewing pleasure I have obtained this map from Buzzfeed that color-codes the fireworks laws for each state.

So remember, my fellow Michigan people: please keep it "safe and sane," but still have fun! Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Friday, July 01, 2011

1905 San Francisco Atlas Digitized

Just months before the San Francisco quake and fire of 1906, this Sanborn Insurance Atlas was published. It shows the city in great detail how it was just before the disaster. Recently, the six-volume atlas was digitized and made available on David Rumsey's site, so these remarkable pictures are available for everyone to see.

The atlases themselves are not unmarked by one of the worst natural disasters ever to strike the United States-- as you can see, the edges of the pages are somewhat damaged. Really, it's incredible that they survived a two-pronged event that left people homeless for years, permanently changed the course of rivers, destroyed about 25,000 buildings, and left a city looking like this:

Photo by Arnold Genthe
It's also of note that this was one of the first disasters to be documented by photograph and motion picture. Here is the photographer's description of the picture, which was taken the day the fires started:

"I found that my hand cameras had been so damaged by the falling plaster as to be rendered useless. I went to Montgomery Street to the shop of George Kahn, my dealer, and asked him to lend me a camera. 'Take anything you want. This place is going to burn up anyway.' I selected the best small camera, a 3A Kodak Special. I stuffed my pockets with films and started out.... Of the pictures I had made during the fire, there are several, I believe, that will be of lasting interest. There is particularly the one scene that I recorded the morning of the first day of the fire [along Sacramento Street, looking toward the Bay] which shows, in a pictorially effective composition, the results of the earthquake, the beginning of the fire and the attitude of the people. On the right is a house, the front of which had collapsed into the street. The occupants are sitting on chairs calmly watching the approach of the fire. Groups of people are standing in the street, motionless, gazing at the clouds of smoke. When the fire crept up close, they would just move up a block. It is hard to believe that such a scene actually occurred in the way the photograph represents it. Several people upon seeing it have exclaimed, "Oh, is that a still from a Cecil De Mille picture?" To which the answer has been, "No. the director of this scene was the Lord himself." A few months ago an interview about my work--I had told the story of that fire picture--appeared in a New York paper with the headline, "His pictures posed by the Lord, says photographer.""
-Arnold Genthe, "As I Remember" Reynal & Hitchcock : New York, 1936

And if you would prefer to see the pre-quake-and-fire San Francisco as drawings instead of maps and building plans, Rumey's site also has a digitized Illustrated Directory from 1895.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Totally Tubular

Even if you've never been to London, you've probably seen a map of the Underground, or at least a public transportation system map that was inspired by the original, made in 1931 by Harry Beck.

This diagrammatic map pretty much ignores geography in the interests of making the other information present that much easier to decipher. It is given a very clean and easy-to-read look by eschewing the messiness of reality and only using lines that are horizontal, vertical, or at a forty-five degree angle.

However, since it does ignore geography to highlight the Tube's lines, it is fairly easy to be mislead into getting a distorted sense of the city itself while using only this map. For instance, looking at this map, it's not really possible to tell whether the stations are geographically very close to one another. One who doesn't realize that might spend half an hour in the tunnels when the trip above ground would have taken only five minutes, or vice versa. Over the years, some have felt that this was a failing, while others maintained that it didn't matter, as the map's sole purpose was to help one get around in the subway system.

Those who felt that geography oughtn't be ignored have tweaked and prodded at the map over the years. One such re-imagining of the Tube map can be found here. It's still easy to read, and it takes geography into account to give a much more realistic view of the system. Here's a zoomed in screenshot:

Check out their blog for news, links, and a chance to provide feedback.

If you're interested in the evolution of the maps of the London Tube, this site has a nice collection of maps throughout the years.

And here is a very interesting conversation from Edward Tufte's forum about London Tube maps, as well as maps for other transportation systems around the world, that spans nearly a decade. (Unfortunately, some of the older links don't work.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

The United States of Pig

W.E. Baker was a pure-food proponent who lived in Massachusetts. He believed that unsanitary conditions in food production led to disease-- therefore, he opened his very own Sanitary Piggery to show the rest of the world how swine ought to be raised. In July of 1875, he threw a grand party both to celebrate and raise awareness for his new Sanitary Piggery and to commemorate a battle that had been fought nearby.

You can't have a fancy party without fancy party favors (at least, not if you're doing it right), so Baker distributed these maps as ‘good cheer souvenirs’ to his guests, who numbered in the thousands:


The map’s full title is: THIS PORCINEOGRAPH is copied from the Census Surveys of 1870, adding only 3 feet of territory (?) resting on Cuba, Mexico and Sandwich Islands, and the Hydro-Cephalus from Canada. Congressional Legislation is required to PERFECT this GEHOGRAPHY.

It seems as though Baker might have been in a rush to get these piggy maps ready for his guests, because there are a few typos, some reversed text, and what seem to be notes to improve future drafts of the map.

Around the map are pigs representing each state, next to a banner with a pork recipe for each state. Michigan's is "Superior White Fish and Larded Sweetbreads."
(It's impossible to read while it's this size but this page has a wonderful detailed version of the map that you can zoom in on.)

Read more about the map here.

Side note: We have an actual print of the Porcineograph at U of M's very own Clements Library!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where are people moving? has created this interactive map using IRS data to show where people were moving in 2008. You can click on a county to see its data-- where people moved from (with black lines) and where former residents moved to (red lines). For Washtenaw county, the results looked like this:

How about your county?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

NASA Tera Satellite

With the Mississippi overflowing action had to be taken causing the U.S Army Corp to open up gates to flood the Morganza Floodway. Thanks to NASA we can see the amount of water that has spread as a result of this. For more information on the Morganza Floodway or to view a larger image, go here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pictographic Maps

Personally, my favorite maps are Pictographs. Often times they are incredibly colorful, detailed in a way most maps are not, and feel to me more telling of an area depicted than just road names.

A wonderful example of this would be this French map of the Mediterranean Sea from the book Decouvrons le monde, or Discover the World.

Many pictorial maps are created for younger audiences, but that doesn't take away from their usefulness for adults! To view this page larger, or to view more pages from this book you can go here.

To view more Mediterranean maps you can visit the University of Michigan map library in person to see our impressive collection from all eras.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Water water everywhere, but will there be any to drink in 2030?

Maps can be, and often are, built to show more than just location. This data map created by Hal Watts shows the amount of water usage through out the world predicted for the year 2030.
He cut out each country from flat sponges and then poured the predicted water needs scaled down onto each and then photographed them in raking light. It gives an interesting point of view of an important topic. To view more of his work go here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yellowstone Plume: Bigger than originally thought

Geologists have been using seismic waves from earthquakes to map the area below a hotspot in Yellowstone that was already known to be large.

The latest data, which was gathered via electrical conductivity, proves that this hotspot is even bigger than first imagined. For more detail check out the article on BBC News.

Monday, May 09, 2011

New Jersey Glows.

At least this Map of New Jersey does produced by radio station WFMU.

While the glow-in-the-dark-ness of this poster can't come through via the internet, the content more than makes up for it. You can click on the image for a more detailed view or go here to purchase one for yourself!

Friday, May 06, 2011

How does your state excel?

With these latest infographics depicting the environmental factors that each states excel in...

and which factors they do not.

To learn more and see a larger images of the maps, visit the Mother Nature Network.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The United States of Gastronomy

Artist Lucy Stephens has created a unique look at the United States, with it taking the form of one of our favorite things, food.

Florida consists of Florida Orange Juice and Key Lime Pie while Michigan is known for its mint , beans and of course, Michigan Cherries. If this belongs in your kitchen or anywhere else for that matter you can purchase a print from here.

Japan's Quakes Animated

While we have heard about the Big Quakes that have been Racking japan since March 11th, it woudl be impossible to report on all the aftershocks they have been experiencing.

To allow the public to see in greater detail the quakes that have been hitting, a site called Japan Quake Map has superimposed all the quakes onto a google map and has enabled them to be animated to show time. This gives a much greater idea what Japan has experienced the days after, as well as the weeks.