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Minard’s Map of Port and River Tonnage

Charles Joseph Minard was a master of using simple sizes to indicate relationships.  In this map, as with his famous chart of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, Minard expertly relates the volume of tonnage shipped through European ports and on European rivers to the size of the lines and circles representing them.

Minard developed this map from data on port and river tonnage in the mid 1850s.  The numbers over each circle are the volume of products shipped in thousands of tons.  For this map, Minard includes all ports that carry over 200,000 tons of cargo per year.  For the rivers, each millimeter of thickness represents 100,000 tons of shipping.  Click here or on the picture above to see a bigger map.

The movement of commerce across the continent is presented starkly through the thickness of the rivers and the area of the ports.  Britain, a worldwide commercial leader, has Europe’s two largest ports in London and Liverpool.  Only Constantinople and Marseilles present any challenge to Britain’s remaining ports for volume of tonnage.

Britain, however, has no river shipping listed.  Northwestern Europe–the Netherlands, France, and northwestern Germany–have tremendous shipping along their rivers.  The Elbe and the Rhine account for a majority of this shipping.  With Germany still not unified but with a burgeoning manufacturing sector, all the commercial products had to travel to sea via rivers.  Even today, the Dutch port of Rotterdam handles the world’s highest annual shipping tonnage.

The Russian Empire, with its vast distances and few railroads, made good use of its navigable rivers to transports goods.  Sadly, the area on the map around the mouth of the Volga, in the Caspian Sea, is damaged.  Otherwise, we would also know the volume of goods leaving and entering Russia via Central Asia. 

The Danube, flowing with goods while in Austrian territory, ships virtually none at all through the barely-industrialized Ottoman Empire until it approaches the sea once more.   For an empire so large, the Austrian seaports of Trieste and Venice handle little cargo, representing the Austrian reliance on overland shipping from Central Europe

In France, the Seine itself does not transport a tremendous amount of cargo; but its tributary the Oise carries huge amounts of goods from the manufacturing centers in northern France to the markets of Paris.  Similarly, the Rhone carries little international shipping; most of its cargo begins and ends its journey in France.

This is the third post in our continuing “Mondays with Minard” series, exhibiting Charles Joseph Minard’s excellent cartographic handiwork.  This map was photographed specifically for use here at Cartographia from the collections of the Library of Congress.  Feel free to reproduce the map in any way you wish, but please cite us as the source. The original map is in fairly good quality, but I ran the picture through Photoshop to improve the contrast and make the colors more vibrant for the sake of clarity. 

Lights Out in DC

The power is out all across downtown Washington, DC this morning resulting in major commuter delays, traffic accidents, and stranded workers.  These problems are being compounded by a pair of probably unrelated fires on DC’s Metro system.  Even the White House is running on emergency generator power.

The Washington Post has produced a map of the affected area, above.  The scale of the outage is enormous–approximately 40 blocks according to some reports.  Every subway line in the city has stations in the affected area.

Click here or on the picture above to see a larger map of the outage.

Betting on Obama

As everyone knows, Barack Obama and John McCain are winding up for a historic campaign to become the next president of the United States.  The election is still months away, but that’s not keeping speculators from betting on the results.  The map above shows how interested parties with real money at stake are predicting the November election. 

Intrade is a “prediction market” that essentially lets you bet on anything.  You can wager on whether the positive results Dr. Yoshiaki Arata’s cold fusion experiment will be replicated successfully; you can put money down that the Incredible Hulk will gross less than $50 million on its opening weekend; and you bet that the Supreme Court will hold the District of Columbia’s anti-handgun law unconstitutional.  All these trades are made with real money, and members who predict correctly receive the money of members who don’t.  Intrade, then, is an excellent way to tap into the “wisdom of crowds.”

Intrade’s most recent success has been bets on the results of the upcoming November presidential election.  These predicted results are illustrated via a simple map, above–with red for Republican states, blue for Democratic states, and gray for states that are too close to call.  Click here or on the picture above to see a larger version of the map.

The current Intrade favorite is Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee.  Betters have him winning Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and making a strong showing in Virginia and Nevada.  McCain does well in this election too, with clear wins in Florida and Missouri, but it wouldn’t be enough to get him to the White House. 

The site updates the map “at least weekly” and allows you to scroll through previous versions.  So far, they closely resemble the map above.  Nevertheless, McCain’s fortunes can change quickly.  Although Obama is trading at over $61 per share, McCain still brings in $34 per share that he will be the eventual election winner. 

The American Meridian

Modern geographers measure degrees of longitude from the Prime Meridian running through Greenwich, England, but things didn’t always work this way.  In fact, America, like many other countries, long maintained its own “Prime Meridian” for domestic and international cartographic measurements and surveys.   This meridian was the basis for determining state borders and other domestic surveys, and formed a key part of demarcating a rapidly growing United States.

The map above, from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, shows the major survey lines used to demarcate the boundaries of most modern U.S. states.  The borders of the first 17 states are not included on this map because they predate the establishment of the survey system.  Texas is also exempt as its boundaries were established by treaty.  Many of the secondary baseline meridians on this map were full degrees of longitude from one of several American meridians.  Click here or on the picture above to enlarge the map.

America actually had four separate prime meridians, all of which ran through Washington, DC.  The first was established in 1791 by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the planner who designed the new capital city.  L’Enfant established America’s first prime meridian running through the center of the U.S. Capitol Building, and used this as the basis for his original plans for the city. 

L’Enfant designed his city around a giant right triangle, with vertices at the Capitol, the White House, and the Washington Monument.  The leg of the triangle between the White House and the Washington Monument became America’s second prime meridian in 1793, as surveyed by then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.  Stones marking this meridian can still be found on the National Mall today.

The second meridian persisted until 1850, when Congress established a new, third meridian explicitly for domestic surveys while adopting the British Prime Meridian for all nautical calculations.  The new American meridian would run through the old U.S. Naval Observatory, now the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, in DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.  This meridian persisted until 1897, when the U.S. Naval Observatory moved to its current location on Massachusetts Avenue.  Visitors to the area can find a small monument showing this meridian on the grounds of the George Washington University.

The third meridian was, by law, used for all domestic surveys from 1850 to 1897–the years of some of America’s greatest territorial expansion.  As such, many of the Western states have borders based on this third meridian.   Both the eastern and western borders of Colorado and Wyoming, for example, are demarcated at fixed, full degrees from the 1850 meridian.  The table below shows all state boundaries based on this meridian:

Degree    Boundary
25°         W Kansas (29 January 1861) as a state 
               E Colorado (28 February 1861), NE not dependent on Kansas 
               SW Nebraska
27°         E Montana (3 March 1863) as Idaho Territory
               E Wyoming (3 March 1863) as Idaho Territory 
               NW Nebraska
               W North Dakota as Dakota Territory 
               W South Dakota as Dakota Territory
32°         W Colorado (28 February 1861)
               SE Utah
               E Arizona (24 February 1863)
               W New Mexico
34°         SW Montana (26 May 1864) 
               W Wyoming (25 July 1868), SW not dependent on Montana
               SE Idaho
               NE Utah
37°         E Nevada (5 May 1866) as a state (39° → 38° → 37°) 
               W Utah
39°         NW Montana (26 May 1864)
               NE Idaho

America’s fourth meridian, running through the new U.S. Naval Observatory, was used for several decades.  It wasn’t until the International Meridian Conference in 1884 that most countries, including the United States, agreed to standardize their meridians on the British line.

Hungry Sportsfans

 

As the summer heat begins to work its way across the country, the minds of men, women, and children naturally turn to the diversions of the season–family vacations, camping trips, and baseball.  Modern baseball stadiums, in an attempt to attract and keep fans, have gone far beyond the cracker jack concessions of old.  Now, baseball fans are treated to a virtual smorgasbord of food options, from the zany to the mundane.  Fortunately, the New York Times has put together a scorecard letting us know what food is worth eating at ballparks around the country.

The map is interactive, allowing users to click on a stadium they want to learn more about.  A second window pops up with picture of food to seek out and avoid, and provides descriptions of both.  Click here or on the picture above to go to the map.

In Houston’s Minute Maid Park, for instance, the map recommends the “sizzling beef fajita from Rosa’s Taqueria,” but says to avoid the Union Station “superstar dog with chili cheese.”  According to the commentary, the rubbery hot dog isn’t worth the mess you’ll be left with on your face, clothes, and fingers.

Similarly, Phillies fans should remember to try the pork and provolone sandwich from Tony Luke’s, who’s broccoli “almost makes it feel like a healthy option. Almost.”  But in an ironic bit of cultural blasphemy, the map suggests that visitors to Citizen Bank Park would do well to avoid the cheesteaks, which are apparently far below what Philadelphia’s hallmark food should be. 

The corndogs at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium are “disturbingly large,” and the cuban sandwich at Miami’s Dolphins Stadium has “too much neon yellow mustard.”  At Fenway Park you can apparently buy kosher hot dogs out of a vending machine (avoid), but Seattle’s Ichiroll sushi is surprisingly good for a ballpark.

Minard’s Map of British Coal Exports

Britain was the world’s leading industrial power for most of the 1800s.  19th Century industrial production relied on coal–it powered factories, heated homes, and was essential for producing steel–and as an industrial power Britain relied on coal to make it great.  Most British coal was used domestically, but some was exported to support burgeoning industrial needs in other parts of the world.  Charles Joseph Minard, the well-regarded economic cartographer, produced this excellent map of British coal exports for the year 1864. 

As with most of Minard’s works, this map relates the thickness of each export line to the amount of coal it represents.  Here, each millimeter of thickness represents 20,000 tons of coal.  The numbers written over or beside the lines represent the total number of tons of coal, in thousands.  Click here or on the picture above to see the full map.  Minard also included a fascinating graph of the eventual uses of all British-mined coal in the upper right.  More on that graph later.

The map clearly demonstrates that the majority of British coal exports were destined for use in Western Europe–in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the German states, and Scandinavia.  A smaller but still significant amount was exported to Russia (via both the Baltic and Black Seas) and the Ottoman Empire.

The coal that was not shipped to Europe was distributed across the remaining five populated continents, but not evenly: Australia and Africa (with the exception of British-controlled Egypt) imported hardly any coal at all, whereas China and India imported much more.  South America also imported a significant amount of British coal–much of it to Brazil, Chile, or Peru.  Canada and the United States imported a relatively small amount–the former possibly due to its lower population, and the latter probably due to large domestic coal production. 

The map show some interesting details about international trade during the mid 1860s.  Malta, Singapore, and especially Cuba imported large amounts of coal given their relative size and levels of industrialization.  Malta and Singapore, at least, were British colonies;  but Cuba was a Spanish possession, showing how much the dwindling Spanish Empire had come to rely on foreign industry to sustain itself. 

Though St. Petersburg was the Russian capital at the time, the majority of Russian coal imports from the Baltic Sea were instead destined for the city of Kronstadt, located on an island off the coast of St. Petersburg.  Kronstadt was the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet, and its steam-powered battlecruisers consumed coal at a tremendous rate. 

Prussia’s growing power in Germany is shown by the amount of coal it imported from the Baltic, peeling off into multiple ports.  But Minard also indicates that a rather large amount of coal was still being imported to the German North Sea ports and destined for the “Villes Anseatiques”–the cities of the old Hanseatic League, a Renaissance-era trading guild that had become defunct in all but name in the 1600s.  Interestingly, however, the German cities of Lubeck, Hamburg, and Bremen maintained the pretenses of the League until 1862–only two years before the data for this map was gathered.  It is unclear whether Minard refers to the imports of the last three cities, or of a collection of older member cities.  At the very least, the use of this nomenclature shows the continuing decentralization of Germany, which would not change until German unification under Prussia at the beginning of the next decade.

Finally, the map also shows the continuing economic importance of the Caribbean islands.  More coal was imported by those small specks of land than by the rest of North America combined. 

Minard also included an interesting chart in the upper right-hand corner of the map, showing the amount of British coal produced for each year between 1850 and 1864, and how it was used.  Click here or on the picture below to see a close-up of the chart.  The graph shows the tremendous changes in coal production over only a decade and a half–an increase of nearly 100% from just over 50 million to nearly 95 million tons.  Of this, less than 10% was ever exported–meaning that the British domestic market was consuming nine times as much coal as is shown as exported in the main map. 

The major uses of British coal, according to the chart, are: the production of iron (“Fer”) and cast iron (“Fonte”), gas lighting (“Eclairage au gas”), steam engines in ships and trains (“Navires a Vapeur et Chemins de Fer”), and domestic fireplaces (“Foyers Domestiques”).  A large amount of this production was also specifically slated for use in London, showing how that city was the major center of British industry. 

This is the second post in our continuing “Mondays with Minard” series, exhibiting Charles Joseph Minard’s excellent cartographic handiwork.  This map was photographed specifically for use here at Cartographia from the collections of the Library of Congress.  Feel free to reproduce the map in any way you wish, but please cite us as the source. The original map is in fairly good quality, but I ran the picture through Photoshop to improve the contrast and make the colors more vibrant for the sake of clarity. 

The Milky Way Mosaic

The Milky Way Galaxy is a big place.  It’s close to 100,000 lightyears across another 1,000 lightyears thick.  It’s home to around 300 billion stars, including our Sun, which revolve lazily around the galactic core once every 220 million years.  If the galaxy were shrunk to 100 miles in diameter, the Solar System would only be 1/10 of an inch big. 

Given the scales involved, mapping the Milky Way can be an arduous, complex, and frustrating undertaking.  But NASA, using infrared technology, has developed the highest-resolution image mosaic of the Milky Way ever developed, and a cool viewer to help explore it.  The image above is from the GLIMPSE viewer, sponsored by NASA and other space organizations, to view the infrared-spectrum mosaic at its highest resolution.  Click here or on the picture above to go to the viewer.

The mosaic was developed using images taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope.  NASA used infrared imagery, rather than the visible spectrum, because infrared images can see deep into the galaxy in much greater detail.  This mosaic is still being explored and analyzed, but it has already revealed previously hidden galactic objects and gorgeous images of faraway regions of space.

NASA highlighted the images with artificial colors to represent the infrared spectrum.  For example, red areas indicate a strong presence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), which light up under ultraviolet radiation.  As such, brighter red areas in the image represent the birth of recent high-mass stars, which emit the ultraviolet radiation that makes the PAHs glow.  Ionized and shocked gasses in the image show up as green.  These colors indicate additional high-mass star formation, but also supernovae. 

The GLIMPSE program provides a beautiful view of a complex galactic picture.  Take the time to explore the image and look at some of the recommended features already toggled on the image. [via Slashdot]


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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 cartographia.blog@gmail.com.