Union Square in the early 17th century? According to The Mannahatta Project, an interactive map that lets users search block-by-block for the ecological and wildlife history of Manhattan, it was home to the meadow vole and the white-footed mouse, rather than the Greenmarket browsers of today. (Via Boing Boing)
On a similar note, have a look at this New York Times article from earlier this month, which talks about people who use their GPS units to create drawings from the traceroutes of the paths they take. For example:Pedaling the rectangular city blocks in San Francisco, Vicente Montelongo, 32, a graphic artist, realized the street layout lent itself to the pixeled shapes of vintage 1980s video game characters like Pac-Man, Q*bert and Donkey Kong. Back home with a printed-out Google map and a pencil, he drew Pac-Man chasing a ghost over in the Sunset District and then set out on his bike, iPhone in tow, GPS mapping application on. After riding 8.6 miles in an unwavering line, he uploaded the GPS track data from his phone, and had his picture.
Previously: GPS Drawing Maps.
- Across the pond and back again: The folks over at Jaunted are reporting on Brits (HotelChatter contributor London Town among them) cross-country road-tripping from LA to New York. The lads offer five "top tips" for foreigners attempting to burn asphalt across America, though already one reader added that very long distances should be taken into account--especially if one is used to Europe's relatively compact size. On the other hand, Gadling has a set of tips with pictures (like the one above--brush up on your geography!) aimed at educating Americans about best behavior while traveling abroad. Quid pro quo, travelers!
- We love our photos here at Traveler: Fast Company has a very interesting photo essay on how Dubai--the Middle East's beacon of excess--has been hit hard by the global recession. For a brighter collection, World Hum has compiled a lovely set featuring traditional diners, the ultimate in neon-lit Americana.
- Bad news bears: A spokesperson for the World Wildlife Fund in China has cautioned that giant pandas could become extinct within two or three generations, unless development around the beloved animal's habitat is controlled. Watch the report (with adorable baby pandas) over at NG News.
Photo by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL
The terrazzo map in 1964; for a more contemporary image, cf. inf. When this 130 by 166 foot plot of polished terrazzo tiling was inaugurated at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair, it was the largest map in the world. A facsimile extrapolation of a New York State road map by Rand McNally, the half-acre-sized piece of cartography today would still be the world’s largest map - if it had actually survived. But decades of human neglect and hard work by the elements have left their mark on the plywood tiles. . The Texaco-sponsored map was one of the eyecatchers at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, serving as the floor of the Tent of Tomorrow, which was later turned into a concert venue but fell into disuse by the late Sixties. By the early Seventies, the plywood tiles were covered with a layer of polyurethane and the area was used as a skating rink. It now is part of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. With Ozymandias-like predictability, the Tent of Tomorrow’s 16 concrete pillars now support little more than sky. The only part of the New York State contribution to the Fair to survive unscathed is the Queens Theater in the Park, once the pavilion’s Theaterama. . As the driving irony of heritage conservation dictates, the map wasn’t deemed of value until it was nearly gone. By early 2008, the New York Times in this article called it “an exuberantly overstated mix of small-town parochialism, space-age optimism and Pop Art irony” in the course of reporting on a rescue attempt of this “valuable artifact”. . As reported by the Times, a team of the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate programme in historic preservation has been trialing the preservation of four of the 567 4×4-foot panels that make up the map. They were replacing missing letters, numerals and symbols on the original map. It was estimated that conservation would cost about $1,100 per panel, bringing the total cost up to $623,700. However, no plans were made beyond the trial conservation, and I have no update on the current status of the project. . In any case, the conservation process apparently would leave the map in dubious condition, rendering the purpose of a restored map rather unclear: the surface is so fragile and uneven that walking it, as back in the mid-Sixties, would be impractical at best, and probably quite dangerous.
Many thanks to Chris Perriman, who sent in this link to Tent of Tomorrow, a website dedicated to the eponymous construction, and the 1964 World’s Fair in general. Both images taken from that website.