Two More Obsessive Maps

by Don Friedman on December 28, 2016

First up, from the New York Times: Mapping the Shadows of New York City: Every Building, Every Block.

Next, from Will Geary via Boing Boing a video map: Visualizing 24 hours of subway activity in New York City. (As a bonus, this link also includes a video map showing CitiBike use over 24 hours.)

While these maps are quite different – the shadow map is a meaningful discussion of a topic that has been heavily discussed since New Yorkers first started building tall buildings, while the subway map is basically eye candy – but they share two characteristics that mark them as modern. First, they are not static. The shadow map is partially interactive and the subway map is a video. Second, more importantly, they are both based on taking large data sets and visualizing them as maps. Turning data into non-static maps is as good an illustration of a picture being worth a thousand words as you’ll ever see.

Finally, some small data. The map below is from a 1903 Sanborn map of Queens. It’s fascinating for me to look at this map and those surrounding it because this is the neighborhood I grew up in. Nearly every street was renamed before my family moved there, some 65 years later. The block of Cypress Avenue marked as “Not Opened” is, under another name, the street I grew up on.

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