Been a while since we met, eh? So, tell me, do you like maps? Me, I’ve never been one for cartography. Maps haven’t liked me much either, I’d say. History, though, is another thing altogether. While I may not have enjoyed history much as an academic subject, the legend-making aspects of history were always enjoyable.
What happens when maps meet history? That is the question today’s Just One Thing answers for you.
But before that, a little context. The Boston Public Library runs a project called the Leventhal Map & Education Center, which you should consider visiting if you’re in the US. If you’re not in the US or not inclined to travel or always prefer your education and entertainment digital, then the Center has a whole host of digital tools and playgrounds to mess around in.
One of those is the Mapping A World Of Cities project. It is not merely a collection of urban maps from around the world. Instead, it is an interactive timeline that allows you to see how cities around the world evolved over four centuries, beginning with Tenochtitlán in what is now Mexico and was one of the earliest cities to be mapped in the Americas way back in 1524.
Cairo, Jerusalem, Lisbon, Istanbul, Quito, Lhasa, Kyoto, Melbourne, Cape Town are just some of the cities the project weaves its way through to reach Casablanca in the 1940s. Not all are static maps. You can see the evolution of some of these cities, New York, for example, in maps from different times. You can zoom in to each map, you can browse the digital repositories for each city, with some like Tunisia, allowing you to dive deeper than a deep sea miner.
Go ahead. Start exploring. Learn more about how the modern city has evolved. Also, as the creators of the project suggest, look at what is missing too.
PS: You may like maps. But someone you know positively loves them. Forward this on to everyone you know so the map lovers in your circles can have a ball.