The History of the U.S. Civil War Visualized Month by Month and State by State, in an Infographic from 1897

There’s been a lot of handwringing over the i-Generation’s lack of map reading skills.

While we’re at it, let’s take a cold, hard look at the Gilded Age infographic, above….

… and conclude that people who live in glass houses should stop reaching for stones.

Published in 1897 by the Comparative Synoptical Chart Company, this now unfathomable document–History of the Civil War in the United States: 1860-1865–achieved its goal of squeezing the maximum amount of content onto a single sheet.

This is in direct opposition to today’s generally accepted rules for creating successful infographics, one of which is to simplify.




Another holds that text should be used sparingly, lest it clutter up strong visuals. Consumers have a limited attention span, and for content to be considered shareable, they should be able to take it in at a glance.

Modern eyes may be forgiven for mistaking this chart for the world’s most convoluted subway map. But those aren’t stops, friend. They’re minor engagements. Bloodier and better-known battles are delineated with larger circles—yellow centers for a Union victory, pale green for Confederate.

The fastest way to begin making heads or tails of the chart is to note that each column is assigned to a different state.

The vertical axis is divided into months. Notice all the negative space around Fort Sumter.

And the constant entries in Virginia’s column.

The publisher noted that the location of events was “entirely governed” by this time scale.

You’ll have to look hard for Lincoln’s assassination.

Consumers who purchased the History of the Civil War in the United States 1860-1865 presumably pored over it by candlelight, supplementing it with maps and books.

It would still make a superb addition to any history teacher’s classroom, both as decoration and the tinder that could ignite discussion as to how we receive information, and how much information is in fact received.

Explore a larger, zoomable version of the map here.

via Slate

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Animated Map Shows How the Five Major Religions Spread Across the World (3000 BC – 2000 AD)

Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam…. Claims to ancient origin and ultimate authority notwithstanding, the world’s five major religions are all of recent vintage compared to the couple hundred thousand years or more of human existence on the planet. During most of our prehistory, religious beliefs and practices were largely localized, confined to the territorial or tribal boundaries of individual groups.

For people groups in the British Isles a thousand years ago, for example, the Levant may as well have been another planet. How is it that Britain became a few hundred years later one of the most zealously global evangelizers of a religion from Palestine? How is it that an Indian sect, Buddhism, which supposedly began with one man sometime in the 5th Century B.C.E., became the dominant religion in all of Asia just a few hundred years later?




Answering such questions in detail is the business of professional historians. But we know the broad outlines: the world’s major religions spread through imperial conquest and forced conversion; through cultural exchange of ideas and the adaptation of far-off beliefs to local customs, practices, and rituals; through migrant and diaspora communities moving across the globe. We know religions traveled back and forth through trade routes over land and sea and were transmitted by the painstaking translation and copying by hand of dense, lengthy scriptures.

All of these movements are also the movements of the modern globalized world, a construct that began taking shape a few thousand years ago. The spread of the “Big 5” religions corresponds with the shifting of masses of humans around the globe as they formed the interconnections that now bind us all tightly together, whether we like it or not.

In the animated map above from Business Insider, you can watch the movement of these five faiths over the course of 5,000 years and see in the span of a little over two minutes how the modern world took shape. And you might find yourself wondering: what will such a map look like in another 5,000 years? Or in 500? Will these global religions all meld into one? Will they wither away? Will they splinter into thousands? Our speculations reveal much about what we think will happen to humanity in the future.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The History of Cartography, the “Most Ambitious Overview of Map Making Ever,” Is Now Free Online

Worth a quick mention: The University of Chicago Press has made available online — at no cost — the first three volumes of The History of Cartography. Or what Edward Rothstein, of The New York Times, called “the most ambitious overview of map making ever undertaken.” He continues:

People come to know the world the way they come to map it—through their perceptions of how its elements are connected and of how they should move among them. This is precisely what the series is attempting by situating the map at the heart of cultural life and revealing its relationship to society, science, and religion…. It is trying to define a new set of relationships between maps and the physical world that involve more than geometric correspondence. It is in essence a new map of human attempts to chart the world.

If you head over to this page, then look in the upper left, you will see links to three volumes (available in a free PDF format). My suggestion would be to look at the gallery of color illustrations for each book, links to which you’ll find below. The image above, appearing in Vol. 2, dates back to 1534. It was created by Oronce Fine, the first chair of mathematics in the Collège Royal (aka the Collège de France), and it features the world mapped in the shape of a heart. Pretty great.

Volume 1

Gallery of Color Illustrations

Volume 2: Part 1

Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 1–24)
Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 25–40)

Volume 2: Part 2

Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 1–16)
Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 17–40)

Volume 2: Part 3

Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 1–8)
Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 9 –24)

Volume 3: Part 1

Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 1–24)
Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 25–40)

Volume 3: Part 2

Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 41–56)
Gallery of Color Illustrations (Plates 57–80)

If you buy Vol 1. on Amazon, it will run you $248. As beautiful as the book probably is, you’ll probably appreciate this free digital offering. The series will be added to our collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in August, 2015.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

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Artist Re-Envisions National Parks in the Style of Tolkien’s Middle Earth Maps

J.R.R. Tolkien imagined Middle-Earth by drawing not just from far-flung lands and old myths but the English landscape all around him. Of course, everyone who reads The Lord of the Rings trilogy, let alone the related books written by Tolkien as well as his followers, has their own way of envisioning the place, and those who go especially deep may even start seeing their own, real environments as versions of Middle-Earth. That seems to have happened in the case of Dan Bell, an English artist who maps his homeland’s national parks in an artistic style similar to the one in which Tolkien rendered Middle-Earth.

Bell “began reading Tolkien’s books when he was 11 or 12 years old, and fell in love with them,” writes The Verge’s Andrew Liptak. “In particular, he was struck by Tolkien’s maps.” To start, he “works from an open source Ordnance Survey map, and begins drawing by hand,” adding in such additional details, not always found in most national parks, as “forests, Hobbit holes, towers, and castles.” Having so adapted the national parks of the United Kindgom “as well as places like Oxford, London, Yellowstone National Park, and George R.R. Martin’s Westeros,” he’s made them available for purchase on his site.

Most of us who first encounter The Lord of the Rings at the age Bell did have surely wished, if only for a moment or two, that we could live in Middle-Earth ourselves. Bell’s maps remind us that places like Middle-Earth always come in some way from, and resonate on some level with, the real Earth on which we have no choice but to live. Much like how the settings of science fiction stories, no matter how technologically amplified or culturally twisted and turned, always reflect the time of the story’s composition, thoroughly realized fantasy realms, no matter how fantastical — how many hobbit-holes, castles, or Eyes of Sauron with which they may be dotted — are never 100 percent made up. Just ask the tourist industry of New Zealand.

Enter Bell’s map collection here.

via The Verge

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Map Shows What Happens When Our World Gets Four Degrees Warmer: The Colorado River Dries Up, Antarctica Urbanizes, Polynesia Vanishes

Humanity faces few larger questions than what, exactly, to do about climate change — and, in a sense larger still, what climate change even means. We’ve all heard a variety of different future scenarios laid out, each of them based on different data. But data can only make so much of an impact unless translated into a form with which the imagination can readily engage: a visual form, for instance, and few visual forms come more tried and true than the map.

And so “leading global strategist, world traveler, and best-selling author” Parag Khanna has created the map you see above (view in a larger format here), which shows us the state of our world when it gets just four degrees celsius warmer. “Micronesia is gone – sunk beneath the waves,” writes Big Think’s Frank Jacobs in an examination of Khanna’s map. “Pakistan and South India have been abandoned. And Europe is slowly turning into a desert.”




But “there is also good news: Western Antarctica is no longer icy and uninhabitable. Smart cities thrive in newly green and pleasant lands. And Northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia produce bountiful harvests to feed the hundreds of millions of climate refugees who now call those regions home.”

Not quite as apocalyptic a climate-change vision as some, to be sure, but it still offers plenty of considerations to trouble us. Lands in light green, according to the map’s color scheme, will remain or turn into “food-growing zones” and “compact high-rise cities.” Yellow indicates “uninhabitable desert,” brown areas “uninhabitable due to floods, drought, or extreme weather.” In dark green appear lands with “potential for reforestation,” and in red those places that rising sea levels have rendered utterly lost.

Those last include the edges of many countries in Asia (and all of Polynesia), as well as the area where the southeast of the United States meets the northeast of Mexico and the north and south coasts of South America. But if you’ve ever wanted to live in Antarctica, you won’t have to move into a research base: within a couple of decades, according to Khanna’s data, that most mysterious continent could become unrecognizable and “densely populated with high-rise cities,” presumably with their own hipster quarters. But where best to grow the ingredients for its avocado toast?

Anyone interested in Parag Khanna’s map will want to check out his book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization.

via Big Think

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch the Making of the Dymaxion Globe: A 3-D Rendering of Buckminster Fuller’s Revolutionary Map

Last year, we shined a light on Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map. Unveiled back in 1943, the Dymaxion Map (shown below) revolutionized map design, allowing us to see our world in an entirely new way. As the Buckminster Fuller Institute describes it:

Also known as the “Dymaxion Map,” the Fuller Projection Map is the only flat map of the entire surface of the Earth which reveals our planet as one island in one ocean, without any visually obvious distortion of the relative shapes and sizes of the land areas, and without splitting any continents.

Fuller’s map has since inspired the award-winning AuthaGraph World Map, created by Japanese architect and artist Hajime Narukawa. And it led robotics engineer Gavin Smith to fashion The Dymaxion Globe, essentially by dividing the Dymaxion Map into triangles and and folding them into a three-dimensional figure. Smith explains the process of making a Dymaxion Globe over at Make Magazine. But above, you can watch it all happen in a video produced by Adam Savage’s Tested YouTube channel. They walk you through the creation of a laser-cut Dymaxion Globe. Enjoy.

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A Map Shows Where Today’s Countries Would Be Located on Pangea

The supercontinent of Pangea formed some 270 million years ago, during the Early Permian Period, and then began to break up 70 million years later, eventually yielding the continents we inhabit today. Pangea was, of course, a peopleless place. But if you were to drop today’s nations on that great land mass, here’s what it might look like. (Click here to view it in a much larger, high resolution format.) The map’s creator is Massimo Pietrobon, someone who playfully describes himself as “a famous explorer and cartographer of Atlantis,” and who has taken on other experiments with maps in the past. When someone claimed that the scale of certain countries wasn’t exactly right, Massimo was quick to confess on his blog, “Yes, it’s just a trial, it can be better.” But it’s a creative start.

Note: An earlier version of this post originally appeared on our site in July, 2014.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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The Largest Early Map of the World Gets Assembled for the First Time: See the Huge, Detailed & Fantastical World Map from 1587

We in the early 21st century can call up detailed maps of almost any place on Earth with little more effort than typing its name. Most of us can dimly recall a time when it wasn’t quite so easy, but imagine trying to satisfy your geographical curiosity in not just decades but centuries past. For the 16th-century Milanese gentleman scholar Urbano Monte, figuring out what the whole world looked like turned into an enormous project, in terms of both effort and sheer size. In 1587, he created his “planisphere” map as a 60-page manuscript, and only now have researchers assembled it into a single piece, ten feet square, the largest known early map of the world. View it above, or in a larger format here.

“Monte appears to have been quite geo-savvy for his day,” writes National Geographic‘s Greg Miller, noting that “he included recent discoveries of his time, such as the islands of Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, first sighted by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520,” as well as an uncommonly detailed Japan based on information gathered from a visit with the first official Japanese delegation to Europe in 1585.




And in accordance with the mapmaking style of the time, he got more fanciful in the less-understood spaces: “Animals roam the land, and his oceans teem with ships and monsters. King Philip II of Spain rides what looks like a floating throne off the coast of South America, a nod to Spanish prominence on the high seas.”

 

“Monte’s map reminds us of why historical maps are so important as primary resources,” says Stanford University’s David Rumsey Map Collection, which holds one of only three extant versions of the map and which conducted the digital project of scanning each of its pages and assembling them into a whole. Not only does its then-unusual (but now long standard in aviation) north polar azimuthal projection show Monte’s use of “the advanced scientific ideas of his time,” but the “the artistry in drawing and decorating the map embodies design at the highest level; and the view of the world then gives us a deep historical resource with the listing of places, the shape of spaces, and the commentary interwoven into the map.”

You can see/download Monte’s planisphere in detail at the David Rumsey Map Collection, both as a collection of individual pages and as a fully assembled world map. There you can also read, in PDF form, cartographic historian Dr. Katherine Parker’s “A Mind at Work: Urbano Monte’s 60-Sheet Manuscript World Map.” And to bring this marvel of 16th-century cartography around to a connection with a marvel of 21st-century cartography, they’ve also taken Monte’s planisphere and made it into a three-dimensional model in Google Earth, a mapping tool that Monte could scarcely have imagined — even though, as a close look at his work reveals, he certainly didn’t lack imagination.

via Hyperallergic

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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