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Posts Tagged ‘cartography’

BY ZACH MORTICE

Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, compiled in 1979 and printed in 1982. Image courtesy of John Davies and Alexander Kent, The Red Atlas.

A map of Vilnius, Lithuania, produced in Russia at the tail end of the Soviet era, details the speed of the Neris River’s flow (1.8 miles per hour), its depth and width, and that it had a sandy riverbed. In addition, it reveals the dimensions of a nearby bridge, what it’s made of (concrete), and how much it can carry (55 tons). Across the Cold War divide, on Western shores, Soviet cartographers still had a grasp of some of the minutiae that made up its sworn rival’s infrastructure. A 1980 map of San Francisco points out that the Oakland Bay Bridge is constructed of metal and rises between 171 and 213 feet above the water. One of perhaps a million maps made by the Soviets to secretly and conclusively chart the surface of the earth, it’s a relic from what might be the largest and most ambitious cartography effort in history.

Though much of this story’s origins and methods are shrouded in secrecy, British authors and map enthusiasts John Davies and Alexander Kent have found a way to break open these mysteries with a beautiful and brief cartographic volume. Their book, The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World (University of Chicago Press, 2017), focuses on how these maps (more…)

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A monthly roundup of the news, dispatches, and marginalia that caught our eye.

In the November Queue, the LAM staff sees the real Keystone XL story go viral, learns about the most-wanted environmental fugitives, laments that the Arctic may truly be “ice-free” by 2020, and daydreams about an enchanting bike ride inspired by a starry, starry night.

OUR WOBBLY WORLD

KCRW’s “To the Point” aired an extensive report on the Keystone XL and the various strategies Canadian companies are using to move tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico (see “Below the Surface,” LAM, November 2014).

 The EPA has recently released the latest iteration of its report on 30 indicators of climate change in the United States. The third edition of the report compiles new data that links human activities and a warming planet, including wildfire occurrences and the rising levels and temperatures in the Great Lakes, among others.

•  A swoon-worthy four-minute film on global fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions has won a 2014 Kantar Information Is Beautiful award.

Interpol launched Operation Infra-Terra, a list of the most-wanted environmental fugitives in the world. Among the top offenses are animal poaching, illegal mining, and illegal waste disposal.

• The Arctic could be “ice-free” as soon as 2020, according to Cambridge professor Peter Wadhams.

• As part of a $2.4 billion project to protect waterways, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens will add thousands of streetside plots to help soak up excess stormwater, while communities in Maryland seek to add similar measures to avoid large fees under a controversial “rain tax.”

FIELD STUDIES

 A four-and-a-half-minute video recently released by PBS highlights the haunting beauty of the historic McMillan Sand Filtration site in Washington, D.C., echoing the local residents’ advocacy for the site’s untapped potential.

 Seattle no longer has to worry about needing to choose between funding the police or the local park. Voters recently approved a measure that separates park funding from the general fund, though some worry that this money will not make it to the parks that need it the most.

In a recent essay in Places Journal, Brian Davis (see “The Dredge Underground,” LAM, August 2014) and Thomas Oles challenge the term “landscape architecture,” suggesting that  “landscape science” more accurately captures the core values of modern practice.

Berlin’s 33,000 resident artists have taken advantage of the slow regeneration of the city, giving more leeway for the creative improvisation of space and property.

Medium looks at contemporary cartography and the increasing complexity of modern maps. 

OUT AND ABOUT

United Divide: A Linear Portrait of the USA/Canada Border opened at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles on November 14.

• The Cultural Landscape Foundation and the Presidio Trust will host Saving Nature in a Humanized World January 22–24 at the Presidio in San Francisco.

DISTRACT ME FROM MY DEADLINE DEPT.

 Ever wonder what your city would look like if we all just turned off the lights?

 If Van Gogh was alive today, he’d want you to use this bike path.

• This memorial in Arizona aligns with the sun perfectly only on Veterans Day at 11:11 a.m.

 These pictures highlight works of art only nature could create.

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