Maps, Maps, Maps …

So … where do I start? I love maps! As strange as this may sound, I had forgotten how much I love them. It took an Intro to Data Visualization course to remind me or renew that spark and I’m so glad.

Even with my love for maps, I never really studied them; looked closely or heck, even questioned them. For me, it was about where I had traveled, where I wanted to go, how I would get from point A to point B. I used to be the navigator for my dad when our family would take road trips. I loved having that responsibility; knowing where we are, how we will reach our destination … Big girl stuff.

But I guess with GPS, maps aren’t so much a presence in our daily lives and perhaps that is how I forgot my love of maps?

Learning and looking at maps through a different lens

These are just a few of the maps I’ve been drawn to of late. The first of measles in the United States in 2019. It’s nothing ground-breaking but it sure is astonishing as it is attractive which is an odd thing to say about a map that presents disease.

But, I think that is what is most interesting about being human. What catches our eye can be a twist on the expected? I’m not sure if I’m explaining that well but that’s how it feels for now.


The colors are striking. The reds are a direct link to measles (I have no idea if that was intentional but that’s what it seems to be) and set off against the neutral grays and creams, they pop out.

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest, I’m a bit shocked that there are so many cases in Southern Washington and Portland, Oregon. But then again, maybe not. I’m not sure what the connection is but it would be interesting to investigate more.

Source: The Economist

This map above scares me but also comforts me in that currently I live in Syracuse, New York (Miami is temporary as far as I know). I worry about my parents who live in the South and this just brings to mind a ton of questions. What are states doing to prepare for this warmth? It is going to have such an impact on daily life. Bandaids here and there are not going to help though it may make people feel better … I’m no expert on what impacts are but the first thing that comes to mind from just reading the news is water and disease. Everything else from there is like a row of dominoes.

Oh but what I also love about the map above is the pairing with the bar graph of income! If I’m reading this correctly, the intensity of the orange bars are connected to the colors of the map, too. Scary and depressing. Will those with less survive? What will we do as a country to help people who don’t have the resources to escape climate change?

Source: Morphocode

This last map … It’s a map of that shows the age of buildings in Lower Manhattan. The project is called Urban Layers. I looked up one building where my husband and I stay when we visit the City and I definitely want to explore this more because I wonder how the building of buildings is connected in terms of where they are located in Manhattan.

One thing I sort of wished for or thought of was when hovering over the different colors or buildings, it would be cool to read more about them, especially the historic buildings. I guess I’m wishing for just a bit more depth! Check it out.

Plans to learn more about Maps

My summer plans include a lot of learning; mainly code such as R and Javascript. Perhaps I can dabble in some mapping tools as well to get my feet wet. I know that for my final year of graduate school a GIS class is planned but in the meantime, I want to study them more. Maybe there’s a way to practice building maps using R? Or perhaps D3.js?

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