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A Diagrammatic Photograph Showing The American Warship, The Delaware, Blowing Up New York City
|| 10/31/2009 || 1:20 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Scan of the front page of New York Tribune on Sunday, October 31st, 1909 showing the battleship Delaware firing on American targets

Talk about a scary Halloween! This graphic features a new American warship, the Delaware, bombing New York City. The transcription is as follows:

The New York Tribune, Sunday, October 31st, 1909

TWELVE-MILE RANGE OVER WHICH OUR NEW DREADNOUGHT COULD SCATTER DEATH AND DESTRUCTION

Besides demonstrating last week, by attaining a speed 21.98 knots, that she is the fastest first class battleship ever made, the Delaware has the most powerful battery in the service. From each of her ten 12-inch guns of the largest type she can throw a shell weighing 870 pounds to a distance of twelve miles, or from below the Narrows, down the Bay, into City Hall Park, and a little beyond. After traversing 9,000 yards these shells can still penetrate eleven inches of solid steel.

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[FOUND MAP] The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein, The Younger (1533)
|| 10/30/2009 || 3:51 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Upside down detail of the terrestrial globe in The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein, The Younger

The Ambassadors (1533) is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger in the National Gallery in London. I remember first learning about it in my AP Art History class in High School. I was drawn to both the intricate nature of the painting‘s near-photorealism and the anamorphic skull that obstructs the foreground. Today I was attempting to warp the skull to see it properly rendered and I realized that there was a nicely painted globe in the background. Well, actually, there is a lot more than just a globe in the background of this painting– there is also a beautiful celestial globe and numerous scientific instruments, but I will let you explore the painting on your own. Suffice it to say, this painting remains one of my favorites.



Randle Highlands VS Fort Dupont [Antique Overlay of an Anacostia Alternative Future]
|| 10/29/2009 || 4:07 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Screen grab from Google Earth showing the location of Randle Highlands

Image links to the KMZ file for Google Earth

The other day I was canvassing the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America newspaper collection and came across this advertisement that was published on May 27th, 1910 in the Washington Times. It shows development plans for Randle Highlands, a neighborhood in Southeast, Washington, DC. I was curious about the results of the newspaper ad. As in, how much has the map changed in the last 99 years? Surprisingly, not too much. Most of the land was developed to plan, except for one large chunk of the land that remains “undeveloped” to this day: Fort Dupont Park.

The National Park Service website says:

This particular fort had six sides, each 100 feet long, protected by a deep moat and trees felled side-by-side with branches pointing outward. It was named for Flag Officer Samuel F. du Pont, who commanded the naval victory at Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861.

Although its garrison and guns never saw battle, Fort Dupont served as a lifeline of freedom. Runaway slaves found safety here before moving on to join the growing community of “contrabands” in Washington. The barracks and guns are gone, but the fort’s earthworks can still be traced near the picnic area on Alabama Avenue.

In the 1930s, the National Capital Planning Commission acquired the old fort and surrounding land for recreation. An 18-hole golf course was constructed. As the city grew, golf gave way in 1970 to the sports complex along Ely Place that now includes tennis and basketball courts, athletic fields, and a softball diamond. An indoor ice rink offers skating all winter. Where once the Civil War fort looked out over farmlands, city dwellers now grow vegetables in community garden plots.

This advertisement was printed 20 years before the National Capital Planning Commission changed the future of this neighborhood. I wonder what it would be like today if it wasn’t a park? Umm, I mean golf course. I was able to line up the old map with the contemporary imagery and by adjusting the transparency in Google Earth you can see how much has been developed. Click here to download the KMZ file for Google Earth


Screen grab from Google Earth showing the location of present day Fort Dupont Park

Image links to Google Maps


Transcription below:

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YouTube Music Video of Gogol Bordello singing “Illumination” at the 2006 Leads Music Festival
|| 10/26/2009 || 2:18 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Gogol Bordello is a multi-ethnic Gypsy punk band from the Lower East Side of New York City that formed in 1999. I was first introduced their music a few years ago by a friend and have seen them perform a couple times.

Sometimes when the rain gets me down I enjoy listening to this song. It was filmed at the 2006 Leads Festival in the United Kingdom and is the only decent quality version I could find on-line. Of unfortunate note, the graphic displayed at the beginning of the video incorrectly lists the song as Start Wearing Purple, which is one of Gogol Bordello‘s break-through hits.

Below are the lyrics to the song:

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YouTube Videos, Photos, and Newspaper Articles About American Farmers and Businessmen Planting Hemp Seeds at the DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia
|| 10/25/2009 || 1:36 pm || + Render A Comment || ||


[Watch on YouTube]

On October 13th, 2009, I was invited to document this demonstration at the DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. You can spot me in the YouTube video above in the beginning. I am wearing a black jacket and hat with a rose on it.


This story starts back in 2007 when farmers Wayne Hauge and David C. Monson attempted to obtain permits from the Drug Enforcement Administration to grow industrial hemp [well actually the story goes back further!]. Their respective state governments had granted the farmers licenses to grow the plant, but since the DEA still considers the non-psychoactive industrial hemp plant to be marijuana, they have refused to grant the farmers permits. Faced with no other legal option, they decided it was time to stage a direct action on the grounds of the DEA Headquarters to help push public opinion towards changing the outdated laws. A week later the Department of Justice officially clarified it’s stance on medical marijuana, but has not yet addressed industrial hemp farming. Below are two articles about the demonstration with photographs that I took that eventful morning:

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YouTube video of the Billionaires for Wealthcare singing “Public Option Annie” at yesterday’s AHIP conference in Washington, DC
|| 10/24/2009 || 8:19 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

This video was filmed at AHIP‘s 14th annual State Issues Conference at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. I think the activist singers did an excellent job conveying the message of the importance of a public option in any health insurance reform.



AHIP is the powerful insurance lobby that spends 5 million dollars a week trying to kill health care reform. Billionaires for Wealthcare is a grassroots network looking to stop them – with song.

  • AHIP and other insurance and HMO interests spend nearly $5 million per week undermining real health care reform, including a public option.
  • AHIP has resorted to out-right lying and scare tactics to block health care reform. They sent letters that lie to seniors about what health care reform means for Medicare, and they issued a report on the costs of health care reform legislation that is so misleading even the reports embarrassed authors distanced themselves from the way AHIP used their work.
  • Every year, 45,000 people die because they cant get access to the health care they need. Yet AHIP continues to stand in the way of health care reform that would provide coverage to millions of Americans because the industry is more concerned with protecting profits than saving lives.

Lyrics to “Public Option Annie” sung in the tune of “Tomorrow” from the Broadway musical Annie.

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Washington Monument Quilt #2
|| 10/22/2009 || 5:22 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

: rendered at 9,000 X 6,000 :
Washington Monument Quilt #2 by Nikolas Schiller

When the 2005 USGS aerial photography was released to the public in the spring of 2007 there were a few places that were censored through pixilation. On this blog I documented how the White House was censored. I documented how the U.S. Capitol was censored. And I even experimented with a QR-Code to show that the Washington Monument was censored. After doing some exploration within the newly obtained 2008 Washington, DC orthophotography, I discovered that the White House and the U.S. Capitol are STILL censored.

However, now that the construction of the new visitors center at the Washington Monument has been completed, which is the reason, I am told, why the Washington Monument was originally censored in the 2005 imagery, the imagery of the monument is now available without pixilation. Moreover, its the exact same imagery that is being used on Google Maps. While I expect to showcase the censorship of the White House & U.S. Capitol in some future entries, I decided to make make my first map of this new dataset of the Washington Monument because I wasn’t able to make it using the last batch of imagery.

To construct this map, I first rendered a full-size Hexagon Quilt Projection map using the original imagery, then sampled a portion of the resulting map, and used the sampled portion to create this derivative map. I chose to sample the portion in the first map because of two underlying aspects of the map. First, I really liked the way the shadows of the Washington Monument combined together. Secondly, I liked the way the apex of the Washington Monument was combined (see detail below) to create a pyramid. Over the years I have enjoyed playing with the notion of aerial & architectural chiaroscuro, as in, using shadows generated by buildings within the original aerial photography to create a new, larger shadow. This map embodies this ongoing design element perfectly.

View the Google Map of the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

: detail :

View the rest of the details:

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The 2008 Washington, DC Orthophotography
|| 10/21/2009 || 4:30 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Screen grab from http://www.nikolasschiller.com/blog/wp-admin/post-new.phpGraphic Converter showing the entire dataset of the 2008 Washington, DC Orthophotography

A couple weeks ago when I was writing the entry about crime in my neighborhood, I discovered that the DC Government’s Citizen Atlas was using aerial orthophotography taken in 2008. I subsequently checked the USGS website to see if they had obtained the dataset, but they were still using the imagery taken in 2005. I decided to e-mail one of my contacts in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. I asked if the dataset was available to the public or if it was going to be ported over to the USGS’s distribution system, and to my chagrin, the offer was extended to mail me a copy of the entire dataset. About a week later I received the CD in the mail and today I started to explore all the brand new imagery that I now have at my disposal! I now have the ability to use aerial orthophotography of Washington, DC taken in 2002, 2005, and 2008.

I first must note that the roughly 67 gigs worth of aerial orthophotography of Washington, DC was all compressed using the Mr. SID file format and was able fit on one CD-Rom. While that level of digital compression is pretty insane (80 to 1), I still have my reservations about it. Almost two years ago I wrote about how Mr. SID has been the bane of my cartographic explorations, and well, not much has changed since then. There is still only one software program for Macintosh that I am aware of that allows users to uncompress the imagery locked away in the proprietary file format, GraphicConverter X for PowerPC-Macs.

Worse, I am having difficulty extracting the imagery that I want to use! The screen grab above shows the selection screen that pops up after I open the Mr. SID file containing the 2008 Washington, DC orthophotography. At first I was really excited that I could quickly and easily draw a box around the portion of the city I wanted to extract. However, after testing it out, I found that there is some latent bug in either the program or the file.

After I draw a box around the area I wish to extract, Graphic Converter spends a few moments decompressing the portion of the file, then it opens up the imagery. There is just one catch: the box I draw does not correspond to the imagery that opens up! For example, if I draw a box around the White House, a few moments later I am looking at imagery from Woodley Park neighborhood. After experimenting for about an hour, I discovered that the imagery is being extracted from somewhere northwest of where I am selecting. This is frustrating to say the least! Instead of quickly and easily obtaining the exact imagery that I want, I now have to do a series of trial & error selections in order to obtain exactly what I am looking for.

Moreover, due the level of compression used in Mr. SID, the uncompressed imagery contains small artifacts that diminish the overall quality of the original aerial orthophotography. To visualize this, imagine for a second that you decided to save a photograph using JPEG compression, but instead of selecting a high number (less compression) you select a very low number (high compression). When you look at the file that you saved, you can see little bits of digital static in the image. These artifacts are the result of high levels of digital compression in the Mr. SID file (80 to 1) and while its not excessive, it is present. I prefer uncompressed TIFFs because they generally look better.

The only way I’ve figure out how to reduce this annoyance is to actually reduce the size of the source aerial photography and in doing so, I’m reducing the overall spatial resolution of the original aerial photography. Released at approximately 15 centimeters per pixel, the imagery is so sharp that you can see people walking on the ground and be able to identify types of cars, but any reduction in size results in less precision and detail.

Nonetheless, I am very excited to start making more maps of Washignton, DC using the 2008 imagery! I look forward to exploring the nuances in development that have taken place over the years. I am also very appreciative of the DC GIS Program for providing me the new imagery free of charge. Thank You!



WANT 20,000 SIGNERS – The Washington Post, November 16th, 1894
|| 10/20/2009 || 4:01 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

WANT 20,000 SIGNERS


A Monster Petition to Be Circulated in the District.

DISTRICT SUFFRAGISTS ORGANIZE

Congress to Be Asked to Authorize a Special Election to Allow People to Say Whether They Wish the Present System of Municipal Government Continued– A Constitution Adopted and Speeches Made– Labor Unions Taking a Hand.


The Washington Post, November 16th, 1894.

Another organization of those in the District of Columbia who want to be full-fledged citizens with the right to vote and to have a voice in the management of local affairs was formed this evening. The plan of campaign differs in some particulars from that of the labor organizations instituted some weeks ago, but in other respects it is the same. Steps were taken for the circulation of a monster petition and an effort will be made to secure for it 20,000 signatures. This will ask Congress to allow a special election in the District to determine whether the citizens desire to maintain the present form of government.

The of the organization is “The District Suffrage Petition Association.” It grew out of the meeting of citizens which was held a week ago last evening at the John Wesley Church on Connecticut Avenue, between L and M streets. The meeting last evening was at the same place and the temporary organization of a week ago was made permanent. Robert Reyburn, M.D. presided, and was made the president. He is strongly in favor of the movement and spoke earnestly for it.

The Constitution Adopted

Here is the constitution which was adopted:

The object for which this association is founded is the securing of a representative form of government for the citizens of the District of Columbia. All citizens of the District of Columbia who believe in the principles of free government are invited to join, and aid in the movement, by forming branches or auxiliary associations.

The officers of the association shall be a president, two vice presidents, a secretary, and a treasurer. The president shall be a member, by virtue of his office, of all committees. The president and all other officers of the association shall perform all the duties usually appertaining to such offices in other organizations. An executive committee shall be elected by the members of the association (or appointed by the president), to devise such means as in their judgment will further the objects for which the association was founded. They will be called upon for a report upon the progress they have made, at every meeting of the association.

The order of business at the meetings shall be reading of minutes, report of the treasurer, report of the executive committee, and other committees, unfinished business, new business, adjournment.

Regular meetings of the association will be held on the third Tuesday of each month and can be called at any time on the written request of three members to the president, or, in his absence, to the vice president.

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 o’clock. A good number of the persons who had assembled were colored people, many of whom are well known in the District. There were in the neighborhood of a hundred present, of whom three or four were women. Lawyer James H. Smith, who was subsequently elected permanent secretary, took down the minutes of the proceedings. There were brief addresses by Dr. Reyburn, who said he had always felt humiliated that he should have lived so many years in the District without the rights of a citizen which those in the States enjoy. He did not feel contented that his son should be reared without the education in public affairs which an enjoyment of the franchise imposes. Dr. Reyburn also stated briefly the transactions of the previous meeting. Mr. Smith spoke after him urging the necessity of suffrage for the District. Then the constitution was adopted and the election of officers proceeded with. Besides the president and secretary already named W. Calvin Chase, the editor of the Bee, was chosen first vice president; Gustav Augustine, second vice president; E.M. Hewlett corresponding secretary; Mr. Smith having been designated as recording secretary, and Walter Callahan, treasurer.

A Petition Proposed

Dr. Reyburn advanced the idea of circulating petitions, a number of copies of which he had caused to be printed. It was agreed that these should be carried about the friends of the cause and those present added their names. Dr. Reyburn said he proposed to have copies of these petitions in public places throughout the city, where signers could be secured. He believed this would be an effective method of expressing local opinion about suffrage to Congress. The petition reads as follows:

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the United States: We, the undersigned citizens and permanent residents of the District of Columbia, believe the present form of government existing in the District (by Commissioners) to be in direct violation of all the principles on which this republic was founded.

Moreover, we also believe that a large majority of the citizens and permanent residents of the District of Columbia are in favor of a change in this District from the present form to one in harmony with the principles of free government.

We respectfully urge and request, therefore, that a law be passed directing that a special election be held (as soon as practicable) by the citizens of the District of Columbia, to decide the question whether the citizens of this District desire to maintain the present form of government by Commissioners or to return to a representative form of government.

The next meeting will be held at this church next Thursday evening. A vote was taken also that the state monthly meetings should be held the third Thursday evening of each month, and the hour was fixed at 8 o’clock. Mr. Augustine said he had visited the hall of Typographical Temple, where a meeting of the labor organization interested in the suffrage movement was advertised to be held. He said that no one was in attendance. Milford Spohn, the president of that organization, was in the audience, and Dr. Reyburn called upon him to speak.

Co-operation of Labor Unions

Mr. Spohn replied with moderation and outlined the work which the labor men had undertaken to do. A delegate of the Knights of Labor from Washington to the convention in session this week at New Orleans had been instructed to bring the matter to the attention of the body with the request that labor organizations all over the country should ask their representatives in Congress to grant the citizens of the District the right to vote. This was done because of the opinion that Congressmen would respect a petition much more when there a vote behind it. A similar request was to be made before the international convention of the unions of the Federation of Labor. He added that able editorials had been written by the newspapers of the District against local government. The chief objection which these contained was that the government now paid half of the taxes, and that this would involve an undesirable complication. He thought it was not manly to sell one’s birthright for fifty cents on the dollar, and declared that only those in the jails, insane asylums, and the District of Columbia were denied the full right of citizenship in the United States.

At the close of his speech Mr. Augustine spoke dramatically of local affairs, expressing his opinion that an investigation would reveal corruption in police circles far beyond that lately exposed in New York. an enthusiast then said that a reporter for a morning newspaper was unable to attend the meeting and he was making a motion that the secretary be authorized to make out a full report and sent it to the office, but was compelled to sit down by a chorus of laughter, in midst of which the meeting voted to adjourn.


This newspaper article was transcribed from a scan of the original newspaper article. The document was obtained from the Washington Post archives and is in the public domain. It is being republished here in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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  • thank you,
    come again!