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the Big Map Blog
April 4, 2011 1:26 PM   Subscribe

the Big Map Blog
Five-hundred enormous historical maps; all downloadable in their highest resolution. With a new map every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

While working on another project I had occasion to spend long hours doing archival research. During this research I found literally thousands of awesome maps that I saved for personal interest/use (I am a lover of maps and a cartographer by academic training). At some point I got real jazzed on the idea of releasing them to the public.

Most map blogs (and there are several amazing ones) will display somewhat large maps, but they're never as large as I'd like; and it's very rare that they'll provide the full-res file. The Big Map Blog – being designed as a tool for the dissemination and use of these old public-domain maps – is proudly transparent in providing files at their highest resolution. These maps can also be displayed in your browser (thanks AskMeFi).

There are around 570 maps on the blog as of now, and new map will be posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30AM Eastern (updates via twitter). For how long? Well, I have 1,700 optimized maps ready to go, so, possibly "for forever" (thanks again AskMeFi).

As a note of thanks to the community and our excellent moderators, I brought presents: For Jessamyn, for Cortex, Matt & pb have to share, for the Chicago Cabal (which I'll admit to never really understanding).

For the rest of us rank-and-file, whether you live in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cleveland, New York, Houston, Pittsburgh, Boston, Atlanta, or McGregor, Iowa I bet there's a map for a place you love and care about.
Role: Curator, Designer, Webmaster, Writer
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj (12 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This project was posted to MetaFilter by carsonb on April 4, 2011: The Big Map Blog

Amazing collection. I was exposed to these birdseye maps in college by an urban geography professor, who relied on them heavily for his research. This is the first time I've ever been able to take so close a look at so many of them.

They can't always be relied upon, of course.. this 1893 map of Chicago conveniently removes about 2/3 of the distance between the Loop and Hyde Park in order to make sure the Columbian Exposition gets in there. (It's worth it, though, if only for the swamp of spires occupying the Midway Plaisance.)

Glad to see my suggestion was helpful!
posted by theodolite at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2011


This is seriously impressive. Well done.
posted by laze at 2:51 PM on April 4, 2011


This is a Good Thing.
posted by carsonb at 4:08 PM on April 4, 2011


I really love this but the first map I tried to look at returns an error.

I keep getting an error message when I try to use the Google map to access this Vermont map.

I scrolled through all of the birdseye maps and didn't see it listed. Guessing it was there and however the database is communicating with the map it wasn't updated at some point? Just curious.
posted by terrapin at 10:41 AM on April 5, 2011


(Ah, yeah. I pulled the Lydonville map after I made the Google Maps database, but before the site went up, sorry. The quality of the image was kind of substandard, and I made the choice to ding it. Thanks for calling that to my attention. And here's the Lydonville map if you'd like to see it.)
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 11:17 AM on April 5, 2011


thanks jx7ix7!
posted by terrapin at 11:34 AM on April 5, 2011


Are there plans to find and upload more maps from outside the U.S.? I am specifically interested in U.K. maps.
posted by terrapin at 7:49 AM on April 6, 2011


I've got a ton of U.K. maps, yeah. No U.K. birdseye maps, though, if that's what you're looking for. Never seen a proper one -- if you come across any, def. let me know.

The U.S.-centrism in the site as it currently stands is only because I decided to "seed" it with a large number of U.S. birdseyes out of the gate. When I look at the upcoming queue over the next six months, It's only around 20% U.S. subjects.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 11:26 PM on April 6, 2011


Thanks. I'll keep on visiting.

I passed the site on the the map librarians at Dartmouth and they love it.
posted by terrapin at 4:25 AM on April 7, 2011


Not looking for birdseye maps per se, just maps of UK cities, etc.
posted by terrapin at 4:31 AM on April 7, 2011


Wow, I think this wins projects. The Lynn map is really interesting to me, and all are quite amazing. Thanks.
posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on April 16, 2011


I have been infatuated with this ever since I saw this post months ago. What an absolutely incredible blog. By sharing the files, you have moved from "incredible blog" to Legend.

Thank you from one map nut to another.
posted by namewithhe1d at 6:23 AM on July 20, 2011


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