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Featured on-line with the Maps exhibition at the Walters Museum
|| 2/27/2008 || 7:17 am || Comments Off on Featured on-line with the Maps exhibition at the Walters Museum || ||

Screen grab showing a small detail of a Concentric Quilt

Starting in mid-November I’ve been volunteering my time with the Walters Museum‘s upcoming exhibition. They have a small technology center (4 iMacs) in their cafeteria which I was given the opportunity to review. I look forward to going to the opening later this month!!

The Walters Museum has also included a layer for Google Earth that I produced for the exhibit. You can download the layer here or here.



Carte du Telegraphe Optique [dans l’hexagone]
|| 1/10/2008 || 10:21 pm || Comments Off on Carte du Telegraphe Optique [dans l’hexagone] || ||

Undated Map of Optical Telegraph Stations in France
Courtesy of Low-Tech Magazine via Ecole Centrale de Lyon

E-mail in the 18th Century

Centuries of slow long-distance communications came to an end with the arrival of the telegraph. Most history books start this chapter with the appearance of the electrical telegraph, midway the nineteenth century. However, they skip an important intermediate step. Fifty years earlier (in 1791) the Frenchman Claude Chappe developed the optical telegraph. Thanks to this technology, messages could be transferred very quickly over long distances, without the need for postmen, horses, wires or electricity.

The optical telegraph network consisted of a chain of towers, each placed 5 to 20 kilometres apart from each other. On each of these towers a wooden semaphore and two telescopes were mounted (the telescope was invented in 1600). The semaphore had two signalling arms which each could be placed in seven positions. The wooden post itself could also be turned in 4 positions, so that 196 different positions were possible. Every one of these arrangements corresponded with a code for a letter, a number, a word or (a part of) a sentence.

The other day I found this tremendously enlightening article about optical telegraphs on Low-Tech Magazine. Prior to reading this article I had no idea about this arcane method of communication. The authors supplied a map (above) to really drive home how extensive this system was.

Something that I think few people do when surfing through Wikipedia is to check the articles in other languages. It’s really easy to do and the results tend to be very useful. For words that have equivalent spellings, all one has to do is change the URL’s prefix (fr to en). For words that have different spellings (telegraph vs télégraph) you will have to correct this spelling in order for the entry to show up.

For example, the French entry on telegraphe yields quite a bit more information related to the use of semaphores (the object used to construct the optical telegraphic code) than the English entry on telegraphs.

Below is a carte of the semaphoric number system and an engraving of Mont St. Michel with a semaphore at the top. Both images obtained from the French wikipedia.

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Oil Wells in Los Angeles 103 years ago [One Slick Overlay]
|| 1/6/2008 || 2:09 pm || Comments Off on Oil Wells in Los Angeles 103 years ago [One Slick Overlay] || ||

Links to 2.5mb KMZ file for Google Earth
Were the fingerprints dipped in oil too?

The other day I was hunting for maps of Baltimore and stumbled on to the map above (published in Baltimore). It was last prominently featured in the Library of Congress’ “Los Angeles Mapped” on-line exhibition. The map shows downtown Los Angeles with little black dots showing the locations of all the oil wells that existed in 1905.

I wonder how many of the old oil derricks still exist today? I also wonder if people living where the oil wells were constructed own the mineral rights for their property? A few years back I remember looking into purchasing cheap land in Wyoming and one of the stipulations on the land was that the owner would not own the mineral rights below the surface of the earth. Does this exist in present day Los Angeles? Could someone living in Los Angeles today dig a little deeper and find a new source of oil in their backyard?

For more information about this antique map, visit the Library of Congress website. Below is a secondary screen grab showing the area around Dodgers Stadium. It should be noted that the overlay does line up 100% on Google Earth, but close enough to show a change in the built environment.

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Within Sight of the White House [Overlay of Hooker’s Division]
|| 12/9/2007 || 2:30 am || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

[image links to .kmz file]
Google Earth Screen Shot of the Antique Overlay

One of the maps I recently downloaded was from a newspaper clipping showing the area near the White House. With 50 Saloons and 109 Bawdy-Houses the map was drawn to highlight business owners who were paying Federal taxes but not DC taxes. Of importance is how nearly all but four of the business owners were female. Were they not paying taxes because they were disenfranchised? Women’s suffrage didn’t come for another 30 years with the passage of the 19th Amendment. By taking the map and importing it into Google Earth, I was able to arrange it so that the buildings line up with minimal distortion. It’s not a perfect map, but it is truly an interesting glimpse into downtown Washington, DC in the 1890’s.

Today most of the buildings are all gone. There are some exceptions, like City Hall (Central Powerhouse) and the Old Post Office, which is written as the “New Post Office” on the map. In the place of the 109 Bawdy-Houses and 50 Saloons was the creation of Federal Triangle. Ohio Ave- gone, DC’s entertainment center, gone as well. Later built, on the year of my birth, was Freedom Plaza which was designed to look like L’Enfant’s map no less. By adjusting the antique map’s transparency you can see a approximately 117 years of development. From brothel to federal, what a strange entity time is.

Transcription:

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An Interactive Astrological Calendar from 1544 for Google Earth
|| 8/11/2007 || 11:49 pm || Comments Off on An Interactive Astrological Calendar from 1544 for Google Earth || ||

Right click on the image below to download the .kmz file [3 mb] for Google Earth:

The other day when I was developing the Eastern Hemisphere version, I thought it would be neat to see what the calendar would look like in Google Earth. By using the image overlay function I was able to wrap the entire calendar over the surface of the earth. The result is a very unique way to interactively view the calendar in 3D.

Continue reading:

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America as a Cloverleaf
|| 6/18/2007 || 8:09 pm || Comments Off on America as a Cloverleaf || ||

America as a Cloverleaf by Nikolas Schiller

View the original, interactive version, and legend:

This historic map mashup is courtesy of Heinrich Bunting (1545-1606) by way of the Yale University Map Library.

Originally the three cloverleaves were of Africa (South/Middle) , Europe (West/Left), and Asia (East/Right) and at the center was Jerusalem. You can read more about this map at the website Strange Maps.

My rendition is San Francisco’s Financial District (West/Left), the Saint Louis Arch (South), and Lower Manhattan (East/Right) and at the center is the rowhouse in Washington, DC where I reside at.

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A New Map of the Terraqueous Globe : according to the the Ancient discoveries and most general Divisions of Geospatial Art
|| 5/29/2007 || 1:52 pm || Comments Off on A New Map of the Terraqueous Globe : according to the the Ancient discoveries and most general Divisions of Geospatial Art || ||

A New Map of the Terraqueous Globe : according to the the Ancient discoveries and most general Divisions of Geospatial Art by Nikolas Schiller

Worked on this “New Map” nearly all Memorial Day… took 12 hours to complete!
It’s a 269 year enrichment, errr, a cartographic memorial? Continue reading:

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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!