The Phone and Internet Map of Global New York

Everyone knows New York is a cosmopolitan city, with hundreds of ethnicities from around the world clustered into a few small boroughs and the larger outlying suburbs.  Many maps have been made charting New York’s ethnic neighborhoods, but not until today have I seen any maps that chart the connections between those neighborhoods and the rest of the world.  Thankfully, a team from MIT has taken on the task and developed some informative and beautiful maps to show their research to the rest of us. 

Researchers at MIT’s senseable city laboratory, in collaboration with AT&T, created a set of wonderful maps illustrating New York City’s voice and Internet connections with the rest of the world. They called this project the New York Talk Exchange.  Three of these maps are available online at this website, but they are all available for viewing at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibit Design and the Elastic Mind.  The exhibit runs through May 12, 2008, so hurry and see it before it closes if you can.

The first map, entitled Globe Encounters, tracks Internet protocol (IP) connections between New York and cities around the world.  In this map, the brighter a city’s glow, the more IP connections it has with New York, visually showing the strong New York business and personal connections to both Western Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  East Asia and the Middle East, though not shown in the snapshot, also certainly have bright glows over their mahor cities.

The second map, Pulse of the Planet, “illustrates the volume of international calls between New York City and 255 countries over the twenty-four hours in a day.” The map exaggerates the size of countries based on the volume of calls they make and recieve, and highlights the top cities.  This snapshot shows spikes over Toronto, Montreal, London, and Tokyo.

Finally, the map entitled World Within New York breaks the boroughs down into square grids and, for each, shows the percentage of phone calls to different regions of the world.  This snapshot highlights a grid square over Flushing, Queens, showing strong connections to Korea, Portugal, Canada, China and Taiwan, and the Dominican Republic.

More information about these maps is available from the sensable city laboratory website, as well as from this article from MIT.  If anyone attends the MoMA show where these maps are displayed, let me know and I’ll post your reactions!


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Cartographia is a blog about how we use maps to represent the world around us, and how people interpret maps today and throughout history. Please feel free to send any questions, comments, or recommendations directly to me at

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