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What Goes Up Must Come Down: A brief history of New York City’s elevated rail and subway lines

This is a guest post by Sonia Kahn, Library Technician in the Geography and Map Division. On a recent trip to New York City, I frequently found myself in the underbelly of the city, submerged below the hustle and bustle as I was transported up and down Manhattan. I couldn’t help but notice while I was visiting […]

Mapping the Land of Fire and Ice

Early maps of Iceland are compelling, they are often embellished with sea monsters and pictorials. Modern maps of the country are equally interesting because of the unique shape and terrain of the island. Iceland, with its glaciers and volcanoes, is accurately nicknamed the “Land of Fire and Ice.” The maps of Iceland featured in this […]

Chicago’s South Park by Fredrick Law Olmsted

During the month of April, the Library of Congress celebrated the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), farmer, journalist, publisher, conservationist, and the first American landscape architect, who designed the grounds surrounding the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and many other notable public and private green spaces. To celebrate, the Great Hall […]

Pictorial St. Louis – The Great Metropolis of the Mississippi Valley

The panoramic map was a popular cartographic form used to depict U.S. and Canadian cities and towns during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Known also as bird’s-eye views, perspective maps, or aero views, panoramic maps are nonphotographic representations of cities portrayed as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. Typically printed on […]

Winds of (Ex)Change in the Indian Ocean

Take a look at this monsoon chart, paying special attention to the western Indian Ocean between the east coast of Africa and the west coast of India, and you might notice a pattern: The left chart depicts the prevailing winds in the Indian Ocean in February; the right, in August. In winter, a sea of […]

The Matron of Mesopotamian Antiquities

Gertrude Lowthian Bell (1868–1926) was a British archaeologist, explorer, and diplomat. Proficient in French, German, Hebrew, Persian, and Arabic, and an avid reader and writer, she traveled widely and was able to engage with native populations because of her ability to communicate in many languages and openness to experiencing unfamiliar traditions. She found the Middle […]

As The World Turns: Ellen Eliza Fitz and Her Inventive Globe Mount

As I was organizing globes in our stacks several weeks ago, a note on two of the boxes caught my eye. It said, “This globe sphere was produced by Gilman Joslin, but the significance of this work relates to the mounting which was invented by Ellen Eliza Fitz. Ellen Eliza Fitz patented a mount for […]

Visualizing DC’s Municipal Infrastructure,1890 to 2022

Maps can tell us all kinds of things about how others have viewed and shaped the world – from the borders of ancient empires to the layout of your neighborhood street grid. Today, spatial data commonly powers the maps and applications we use to access basic information about the places we inhabit: opening an app […]