Monday, May 29, 2017

Europe's Population Mountains


Topi Tjukanov has discovered how to give the Netherlands mountains. The answer is to turn population data into elevation. If you do that then the densely populated Netherlands becomes a mountaineer's dream of climbing heaven.

Topi Tjukanov's 3D Global Human Settlement is a threejs powered mapped visualization of European population data, in which population is expressed as elevation. The higher the population the higher the elevation on the map.

While the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe its cities aren't among Europe's most populated urban centers. Istanbul is the city that towers over this map. With a population of around 14.7 million residents Istanbul is Europe's most populous city. Moscow is the next most populated city in Europe with around 13 million residents.


You can explore a 3D map of America on Mapbox's Population Density Inspector. This interactive map visualizes the population density of each census block as a 3D tower.

The Population Density Inspector allows you to explore the number of people living in each census block in America. The height of each census block on the map represents the population density (based on census block population counts). You can read about how Mapbox created the map (with a little help from Turf.js and Tippecanoe) on the Mapbox blog.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Vintage Maps of Toronto


The Geospatial Centre at the University of Waterloo has been busy digitizing its collection of historical maps. You can view these vintage Canadian maps at Kitchener-Waterloo: 1955 to present.

The maps available include historical maps of Toronto, Ottawa, Galt and Dundass. Also available is a map of the Centre's 1955 air-photo collection. Both the vintage maps and the vintage aerial imagery have been made accessible using Esri's Swipe & Spyglass Story Map formats. Using these formats means that you can compare the vintage maps of Toronto, Ottawa, Galt & Dundass with the modern map of the same areas and compare the historical aerial imagery with Esri's current satellite view.


Chris Olsen has also used Esri to showcase some vintage maps of Toronto. Toronto Historic Maps presents a series of historical maps of the Canadian city. Toronto Historic Maps includes the 1858 Boulton Atlas of the City of Toronto. You can also explore Goad fire insurance maps from 1880, 1889, 1913 & 1924 and maps from 1818, 1842 and aerial photographs from 1947.

You can view more historical vintage maps of Toronto (and anywhere else) in the David Rumsey Map Collection. If you use the site's Maprank Search to zoom in on Toronto you can find all the available vintage maps of the city

Friday, May 26, 2017

Live Satellite Images of the Earth


I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked whether I know any maps with real-time satellite imagery of the Earth. The short answer is that we aren't quite there yet. There is no map that can show you real-time satellite imagery of the whole Earth. However there are websites that can show you satellite imagery which was taken just a few hours ago.

NASA and USGS' Landsat 8 completes an entire picture of the world every 16 days. Mapbox's Landsat-live map actually uses the latest Landsat imagery to provide one of the most up-to-date satellite maps of the whole Earth.

Landsat-live uses the latest Landsat 8 satellite imagery to provide a near real-time satellite view of the Earth at 30 meter resolution. Because the map uses the most recent Landsat 8 satellite imagery many locations around the world will be affected by cloud cover. If you find your town is obscured by clouds you can always return to the map in 16 days time to see if the next pass of Landsat 8 has provided clearer imagery.


Japan's Himawari-8 satellite is in stationary orbit over New Guinea where it captures some truly amazing imagery of the Earth. Every day the satellite captures imagery of the western Pacific, Australia, and parts of Asia, Antarctica & Alaska.

There is no live feed from Himawari-8 but you can view time-lapse animations of the latest Himawari-8 satellite imagery on Himawari-8 Real-time Web. Himawari-8 Real-time Web includes views of Earth that were actually taken today. You can also use the calendar to view historical imagery from Himawari-8 for any other date.


You can also view some of today's imagery of Earth captured by Landsat 8. NASA's FarEarth Observer displays near-real time imagery from Landsat 7 and Landsat 8.

Using the menu to the right of the map you can select to view recordings of the Earth which were captured today. As the recordings play you can see the moving imagery of the Earth that was captured by Landsat 7 or 8. The small inset map shows you the moving position of the satellite at the time of the recording as the satellite orbits the Earth.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Medieval Map Wizards


The Medieval Fantasy City Generator is a fun tool for creating random fictional maps of medieval towns. Just choose your size of town or city and the Wizard of Maps will magically create your very own fantasy medieval map.

All the maps created by the Medieval Fantasy City Generator include a number of similar features. Each town or city is centered around a central market place. Each town is surrounded by a city wall. The city wall has up to four gates, where up to four roads enter the city. All of these roads end at the central market. A castle is also placed somewhere along each city's wall.

The Medieval Fantasy City Generator has some development potential. A church / cathedral could be another random element added to each generated map. The generator could also include a random chance of having a river run through the town or city. For now, however, I'm happy to settle for my generated map of Keirstown, the smartest little town in all of medieval Clarkeshire.

Executive Travel


The Executive Abroad is an interactive map which plots the overseas visits of every U.S. President and Secretary of State. The map starts in 1905 because no president traveled outside the country during their term of office before Theodore Roosevelt traveled to Panama in 1906.

If you select a President or Secretary of State's name on the map you can view all their international trips. The colored dots on the map show where the selected leader traveled around the world (the color of the dots equate to regions of the world and the size of the dots represent the number of visits to that country). You can click on the individual dots to view details about the presidential trips made to that country.

The graph around the outside of the globe shows the frequency to each part of the globe over time. The graph really shows how international travel only became common place for American leaders after 1958. As the map explains this was a result of advancements in international flight. In particular the introduction of the Boeing 707 jet for presidential travel in 1959.

The Interactive Map of Unobtrusive Design


Ongesigneerd (translation: 'Unsigned') is a podcast about unobtrusive design by Dutch broadcasters VPRO. To accompany the new season of the podcast VPRO has released the Ongesigneerd Interactive Map.

In the podcast series broadcasters Tjitske Mussche and Laura Stek discuss the design of everyday objects that we find in the world around us. The interactive map presents a hand-drawn city scene, which has been made interactive using the Leaflet.js mapping platform.

You can use the map to navigate to and listen to different episodes of the new season of the Ongesigneerd podcast. The links to the podcast episodes can be found by hovering over the colored parts of the city scene. The colored-in objects are related to the subject of each podcast. For example, if you hover over the zoo on the map you get a link to episode 12 of the series which discusses how the design of animal enclosures must meet the needs of both the animals and the zoo's visitors.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tsunami Travel Times


A tsunami that started off the coast of Japan would take about ten hours to cross the Pacific Ocean before it hit the coast of Los Angeles.

You can find out out the estimated travel times of tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean using NOAA's Estimated Tsunami Travel Times map. The map displays pre-computed tsunami travel times. NOAA haven't provided a lot of information about how the travel times were estimated, except to say that the model uses Huygen's principle and bathymetry data.


The Tsunami Mapper makes use of the Google Maps elevation service and a flood fill algorithm to display the likely effects of a tsunami hitting the shore anywhere in the world.

The map allows you to enter a location and then set the parameters of a possible tsunami. These include the wave height, the direction of the wave and the tsunami starting point. The map will then display the areas that are likely to be effected by water damage if such a tsunami hit your location.

Predicting the travel times, height and effect of tsunamis is an inexact science and there are of course lots of complex variables at play that can't be predicted. Therefore both these maps are intended only as a general guide. Go to NOAA's Tsunami Warning System for real-time tsunami information.

The Geography of Hip-Hop


The Geography of Hip-Hop is an interactive map documenting the history and geography of hip-hop. The map (and accompanying essay) explore how hip-hop has spread around the world and how different cites have developed their own distinct sounds and styles of hip-hop.

The interactive hip-hop map allows you to browse and listen to hip-hop music by location. The map features 955 songs, most of which you can listen to directly from the map. The size of the markers on the map reflects the number of artists featured from that location. In this way you can get a rough idea about the size of the hip-hop communities in these different urban locations.

By listening to the songs listed in one city you may begin to get a feel for the sound and style of hip-hop from that location. You can learn more about the development of hip-hop in the accompanying essay, The Syncopated Geography of Hip-Hop. The essay explores the influence of geography on the communities & local styles and how hip-hop music reflects the influence of the different urban locales where it is made.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This Town was Named for You


Many places around the world have decided to celebrate your life by naming roads, neighborhoods and towns in your honor. You can discover all the wonderful locations which now bear your name using the Where the Streets Have Your Name map.

Where the Streets Have Your Name is a great application that you can use to create a Google Map showing all the places around the world that have your name. Just enter a name into the search box, press 'Map it!' and a map will display towns, parks, rivers and other locations which share your name.

You can also use How Many Places Are Named ... to view an interactive map showing all the places named after you. You can use the map to search your own name but you can also use it to search for locations around the world sharing any other name or word. For example you could try using swear words to find rude place-names around the world (here's a map of everywhere called 'Fart').

Who Owns England?


There has been a lot of speculation recently about who owns England? Land ownership in England is a closely guarded secret. The reason why the ownership of English land is kept such a closely guarded secret is because the answer is - the French.

England is owned by the French. Or, more accurately, the Normans.

In 1066 William the Conqueror and an army of northern Frenchmen successfully invaded England. Following his success William proceeded to divide England up among his supporters. And there you have it. Because of the almost complete lack of social mobility in England the families mentioned as owning land in the Domesday Book are probably the same families who own the land today.

At least that is my theory. I might be wrong - but then there is no way of checking. You could have a look at the new Who Owns England interactive map. Unfortunately because the Normans want to keep land ownership a secret the Who Owns England map only really shows land which is owned by the government, government bodies or charities.

If you want to know who owns a piece of land which is blank on the map (most of the country) then you might as well look up the place-name in the Domesday Book. That is probably the closest you will get to discovering the real owner of the land. Alternatively you could check this Farm Payments for Environmental Stewardship map. This map shows where landowners are claiming Environmental Stewardship grants. If you click on a highlighted area on the map you can see who is the recipient of the grant. The recipient might just be the owner of the land (although for tax avoidance reasons the person named may also not be the owner of the land).

BTW - if you don't believe me when I say that the Normans still own and rule England then explain to me how 950 years after the Norman conquest students with Norman surnames are still over-represented at the countries elite universities.1