In the 19th century, London was the capital of the largest empire the world had ever known — and it was infamously filthy. It had choking, sooty fogs; the Thames River was thick with human sewage; and the streets were covered with mud. But according to Lee Jackson, author of Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth, mud was actually a euphemism. 'It was essentially composed of horse dung,' he tells Fresh Air's Sam Briger. 'There were tens of thousands of working horses in London [with] inevitable consequences for the streets. And the Victorians never really found an effective way of removing that, unfortunately.'"
"Prior to the 1960’s, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake and approximately the size of Ireland. Fed by both the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers carrying snowmelt from the mountains to the southeast, the Aral Sea moderated the climate and provided a robust fishing industry that straddled the present-day border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. For the map savvy, that Aral Sea would be almost unrecognizable—it has long appeared as two basins known as the North and the South Aral Sea since the rivers were diverted for crops, leading to the Aral Sea’s alarming shrinkage. Recent NASA satellite imagery shows the decline that the Aral Sea has undergone since 2000, leaving the South Aral Sea completely dried up in 2014. "
What if the Black Plague had killed off almost all Europeans? Then the Reconquista never happens. Spain and Portugal don't kickstart Europe's colonization of other continents. And this is what Africa might have looked like.
"Have you heard of Alexander von Humboldt? Not likely. The geologist turned geographer and South American explorer was a bit of an 18th century super scientist, traveling over 24,000 miles to understand the relationship between nature and habitat. George Mehler details Humboldt’s major accomplishments and why we should care about them today. See this TED ED lesson plan that accompanies the video."
Explore the travels and exploits of five real pirates of the Caribbean. Click through the tabs to track the adventures of each pirate overlaid on Spanish ports and pirate strongholds in the area. Zoom into the map to see additional detail.
Via Seth Dixon
" The Smithsonian Magazine recently dipped into David Rumsey's collection of over 150,000 maps to find some of the best representations of American cities over the past couple hundred years. With some simple programming, they were able to overlay images of vintage maps of some major cities onto satellite images from today. The results are fascinating."
"Where have immigrants to the U.S. come from? Natalia Bronshtein, a professor and consultant who runs the blog Insightful Interaction, created this fascinating visualization of the number of immigrants to the U.S. since 1829 by country of origin. The graph hints at tragic events in world history. The first influx of Irish occurred during the potato famine in 1845, while the massive influx of Russians in the first decade of the 20th Century was driven by anti-Semitic violence of the Russian pogroms (riots). Meanwhile in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, army conscription and the forced assimilation of minority groups drove people to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Since WWII, Central and South America and Asia have replaced Europe as the largest source of immigrants to the U.S. Immigration shrunk to almost nothing as restrictions tightened during WWII, and then gradually expanded to reach its largest extent ever in the first decade of the 21st Century."
"Americans' understanding of who counts as 'white' has changed dramatically throughout the country's history and even over the last century alone. This map — which covers a decade of immigration to the US, from 1892 to 1903 — is a dramatic illustration of what it looked like when 'white' wasn't the same thing as European. Mouse over any part of the map to magnify it."
"This animation distils hundreds of years of culture into just five minutes. A team of historians and scientists wanted to map cultural mobility, so they tracked the births and deaths of notable individuals like David, King of Israel, and Leonardo da Vinci, from 600 BC to the present day. Using them as a proxy for skills and ideas, their map reveals intellectual hotspots and tracks how empires rise and crumble. The information comes from Freebase, a Google-owned database of well-known people and places, and other catalogues of notable individuals. The team is based at the University of Texas at Dallas."
"More Americans came into contact with maps during World War II than in any previous moment in American history. From the elaborate and innovative inserts in the National Geographic to the schematic and tactical pictures in newspapers, maps were everywhere. On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland, and by the end of the day a map of Europe could not be bought anywhere in the United States. In fact, Rand McNally reported selling more maps and atlases of the European theaters in the first two weeks of September than in all the years since the armistice of 1918. Two years later, the attack on Pearl Harbor again sparked a demand for maps."
"The Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond has created an enhanced version of the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, which was published in 1932. The atlas, which took dozens of researchers to assemble, used maps to illustrate a variety of political, demographic and economic concepts."
"Six students from De Montfort University have created a stellar 3D representation of 17th century London, as it existed before The Great Fire of 1666. The three-minute video provides a realistic animation of Tudor London, and particularly a section called Pudding Lane where the fire started. As Londonist notes, “Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern [taken from historical maps] and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses” mentioned in diaries from the period."
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