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Reaching the South Pole During the Heroic Age of Exploration

During the early 20th century, the British explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, led expeditions to the South Pole. Roald Amundsen’s polar party was the first to reach the South Pole on December 14th, 1911; five weeks later the polar party led by Robert Falcon Scott was the […]

Fast-Track to Destruction City Aboard the Gospel Temperance Railroad

Though much of the history of cartography involves map-makers striving to capture the world in increasingly accurate scientific detail, sometimes the domain of the map-maker is to capture the plane of imagined, metaphorical, allegorical, or even spiritual.  Such is the journey you’ll take on the “Gospel Temperance Railroad,” a 1908 map creation by George E. […]

Manchoukuo: Come for the Prosperity, Stay for the Harmony

A few years ago a colleague of mine in the map division wrote a blog about maps of North Korea’s enigmatic capital of Pyongang. One of the maps, published by the Japanese Tourist Bureau in the 1920s, extols the city, renamed by the Japanese as Heijo, as a model of modernization and economic prosperity. At […]

From Telegrams to Weather Apps: A Brief History of Wind Mapping

Today it’s easy to check the weather without even leaving the house: hourly predictions for rain, wind, temperature, and humidity are available to most of us through our phones at the touch of a button. Warnings for severe weather flash across our screens to help keep us safe – but how did we get here? […]

New Fire Insurance Map Research Guide Available

The most heavily used collection in the Geography and Map Division are the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, a collection of large-scale, building level maps, dating from 1867 to the present which depict the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of some 12,000 cities and towns in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Sanborn collection includes about […]