Tag Archives: maps

A Scary Map of the World, with no London or Amsterdam or……Salem

On this Earth Day, it seems appropriate to feature the scary but beautiful map of the world with unfrozen polar caps created by Slovakian student/graphic artist/cartographer Martin Vargic. At first glance, the map looks like a traditional nineteenth-century decorative map of the hemispheres, but then you look closer (just click on it) and see that many unshaded coastal areas are “missing” and that new seas and lakes have opened up in the midst of continental interiors: there is an Amazon Sea in the middle of South America and a new “Artesian Sea” in Australia. The map presents a rather radical vision with sea levels 260 feet higher than today (most scientists seem to project a 3 foot rise by 2100), and consequently all the coastal cities of the eastern seaboard in North America are gone (including Salem, of course), along with those of the Gulf Coast and what looks like the entire state of Florida. Across the Atlantic, London is gone, along with Amsterdam, and DenmarkVargic, whose work can also be found here, seems to have one-upped his earlier map of the internet, which went viral earlier this year.


Climate Vargic 1

Climate Vargic 2

Climate Vargic 3

Map Images © Martin Vargic @ Halcyon Maps

Appendix: Climate maps are nothing new, although predictive ones certainly are. Those from the 17th through the 19th centuries seem to be more of the recording or empirical nature, like the circular map of London’s annual temperature cycle below. Things get a little bit more subjective later in the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, when “scientific racism” (and environmental determinism) tried to assert “rational” explanations for the industrial progress (and supposed superiority) of the West. The 1924 map below seems to be doing just that.

L0027564 Luke Howard, The climate of London...

L0029476 Civilization and Climate, world map

Map from Luke Howard, The Climate of London, deduced from meteorological observations, made in the Metropolis, and at various places around it…(London, 1833),Wellcome Library; and map from Ellsworth Huntingdon, Civilization and Climate (London, 1924), Wellcome Library.





Salem 1851

In the process of deciding which rare books we want to put up for “adoption” (conservation) at the Salem Athenaeum, our collections committee was looking at an 1851 map of Salem the other day. It was folded up in a special binder, and had probably not seen the light of day for quite some time. Unfolded and spread out on a table, it was striking: the reddish pink outlines encircling a vibrant city of little square buildings (with homeowners’ names) and several bodies of water that no longer exist. Salem was even more coastal than it is now! Surrounding this terrain are beautiful lithographs of the city’s most notable buildings, including the long-lost railroad depot. Away from the city center, in the north, south and west, there was open land now occupied by buildings, but downtown was just as “developed” as it is now, maybe more so (lots of wharves). The outline of my own house (on the second image below) looks like the original 1827 structure, without the sequential additions that would be added on later in the century. And I finally know where the Salem powderhouse stood! I couldn’t find much on Henry McIntyre, the civil engineer surveyed the city for this map–does anyone know more? There’s another copy of this map here, but it’s not nearly as nice as this one.

Railway map 002

Railway map 001

Railway map 006

Railway map 010

Railway map 003

Railway map 009

Railway map 013

Railway map 015

From Car Barn to Condos

There is a lot of new construction going on in Salem at the moment, but fortunately there are some adaptive reuse projects in the works as well. I don’t have high hopes for the former, but it’s always interesting to see industrial or institutional buildings transformed into something altogether different:  generally, but not exclusively housing. My husband is working on an interesting project right now: the transformation of the “car barn” of the former Lynn & Boston Electric Railway Company into six residential units–two townhouses and four flats–with some parking inside the building, which seems appropriate, if not convenient. I’ve admired this building for a while: like many buildings of its era (1887) it reminds me that “aesthetic” and “utilitarian” need not necessarily be contradictory terms.

Car Barn 8

Car Barn 9

Car Barn 11

Webster Street MAcris

I know it doesn’t look like much with that big dumpster parked out in front, and it was difficult to take pictures of its sides as it fills its lot entirely, but the window frames are lovely, and plentiful–which is evident in the interior shots below. Obviously one of the big bay doors was filled in at some point; I couldn’t find a picture earlier than what appears to be the 1970s (from MACRIS).

Car Barn

Car Barn 2

Car Barn 5

Car Barn 3

The Lynn & Boston Electric Railway Company serviced a network of “broomstick trains” running all over the North Shore, housed in “barns” like this one when they were not in service. After the Lynn & Boston was absorbed into the Boston & Northern Street Railway Company its network became even larger, encompassing both the local and the regional. The railway maps from a century ago reveal just how linked communities were in the past, before the other cars came in.

Car Barn Map BPL

Boston & Northern  1911 Trolley map

Broomstick Train

Boston Public Library.

A Clean Bill of Health

There are several things that interest me about this 1787 “Bill of Health” issued by Massachusetts Naval Officer/customs official Joseph Hiller for the (first) Salem ship Grand Turk, an item that comes up for auction next week (in a lot that includes a personal dinner invitation to the ship’s captain, the son and namesake of America’s first millionaire, Elias Hasket Derby, from the Marquis de Lafayette). The first thing that caught my attention is the seal, which is quite faint in this scan so I doctored it a bit (and you can click on the document to examine it in more detail):

Derby Bill of Health

Derby Bill of Health seal

I still can’t really make it out, but it’s clearly not the official Massachusetts or US seals, both of which had been adopted by this time. The Commonwealth seal was a Nathan Cushing-designed, Paul Revere-engraved version of the older Massachusetts Bay Colony seal, with a Native American at its center but the unfortunate wording “come over and help us” left out. Instead, what I can barely see here is the faint outline of a pine tree, a symbol which was adopted by the Massachusetts navy after the Battle of Bunker Hill, and later incorporated into the new state’s naval and maritime flags. For naval-officer Hiller, this was obviously the ultimate seal of authority, the seal of his office, rather than his commonwealth or country.

Massachusetts Seal

Mass Flag

Library of Congress.

The other thing that intrigues me about this document is its dating, or more precisely, the wording of its dating: the sixth day of December in the twelfth year of American Independence, and in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty-Seven. It is double-dated, in standardized format, with reference not only to conventional western dating but also to the American Revolution. Very interesting: I knew that the French Revolutionaries recognized the importance of the calendar as a nationalistic medium, but I had no idea that the Americans did–I wonder how many other official documents utilized this wording, and for how long?

I haven’t even addressed the content of this document: clearly Derby could not sail his ship to to the Isle de France (Mauritius) until it had received a clean bill of health from the authorities. The Grand Turk, the first of several Salem ships bearing that name, was at this time perhaps the most famous ship in New England, if not the new nation, having returned from a voyage to China and the East Indies earlier in 1787. Mauritius was becoming the gateway to this potentially lucrative trade, and its French governors were clearly aware of its emerging importance. I know of no global plague pandemic at this time (the last one was in the port of Marseilles in 1721) but the document uses the phrase Pestilence or contagious Distemper which is not plague-specific. Smallpox was rampant in New England at this time so that was probably the primary concern.

Mauritius Lodge 1781 BPL

John Lodge, A Correct Map of the African Islands of Bouron and Mauritius or the Isle of France, The Political Magazine, London, 1781; Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

Having received his clean bill of health from Naval Officer Hiller, Derby embarked for the east. Shortly after the Grand Turk arrived in port on the Isle de France, its fame (and size) attracted an offer that apparently could not be refused, and the ship was sold to a French merchant. More Salem ships would follow in its pioneering path, and more Grand Turks would be launched, but the exploits of the first one would be remembered not only because of surviving documents like this form, but also through its starring role as the original Old Spice ship.

PicMonkey Collage

Hull Pottery Old Spice Shaving Mug, 1930s, and lots of other examples of “Old Spiceiana”, available here.

Creatures of Cartography

With a little break for the sand silhouettes of Normandy, I’m back to maps, which I am always “collecting” in my digital files. The collection below is made up of the remnants of one of my most popular postsMaps come Alive. Most of these maps are also anthropomorphic, but a little more detailed, and consequently a little less accessible. For some time I’ve been trying to explore, conceptually and visually, the origins and development of the concept of the “Animal Kingdom”:  it hasn’t quite come together, but in the process I’ve acquired quite a few more examples of literal and metaphorical animal maps. And that’s what we have here: the world as populated by animals and the United States depicted as various animals–“scientific” and satirical representations of animal kingdoms, of sorts.

Map Animal Kingdom 1835 American Folk Art M

Animal Map

Two Nineteenth-century Animal Maps:  anonymous author/creator, c. 1835, Collection of the American Folk Art Museum, New York; A.J. Johnson, Map of the World Showing the Geographical Distribution and Range of the Principal Members of the Animal Kingdom, 1860. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, ©Cartography Associates.

The other animal maps of the nineteenth century are not quite so serious, but far more political. I’ve seen varieties from several different countries, but my favorite are American–bears and tigers are an easy metaphor, but only in America do you see such diverse cartographical creatures as pigs, worms, and dogs (well, maybe dogs are a bit more universal).

Animal map porcine

Animal map Blaine


Silver Dog 1896

“This Porcineograph”, a map of the U.S. in the shape of a pig, Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Co., 1879, Library of Congress; Map of the United States as encircled by the “Tapeworm Party”, Chicago Bank Note, 1888:  James G. Blaine is depicted as the head of a tapeworm made of up various government scandals, Library of Congress; Two versions of “The Silver Dog With the Golden Tail – Will the Tail Wag the Dog, or the Dog Wag The Tail?” Boston Globe, September 13, 1896, representing divisions over the adoption of the gold standard in the election of 1896.

And onto another evolution: one of the beautiful cartographical creatures of British paper artist Claire Brewster:


Schoolgirl Maps

For some time I’ve been developing an interest in schoolgirl art–typically examples of painting and embroidery–and I’ve always been interested in cartography, so when I read a recent post on one schoolgirl’s hand-drawn maps at the Vault, Slate’s history blog, I was immediately enchanted. I began searching for more, and this post is the result of my intermittent efforts. The maps featured in the Vault’s post were drawn by Vermont schoolgirl Frances Henshaw in 1823:  the entire collection of  her 19 (out of then 24) state maps can be accessed at the David Rumsey Map Collection’s website, along with their beautiful calligraphic descriptions.

Schoolgirl map Henshaw Massachusetts

Schoolgirl map Henshaw Maine

Schoolgirl map Henshaw Maine description

Maps and description drawn by Frances Henshaw of Middlebury Female Academy, 1823. Courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection, © Cartography Associates.

It  turns out that Frances was at a very progressive school, receiving instruction in a “reformed” curriculum advocated by its former principle, Emma Hart Willard (1787-1870) whose 1819 Plan for Improving Female Education established her reputation as the dean of girls’ education and led to her placement at what became her namesake school. Mrs. Willard believed that young women should be instructed in topics that were previously beyond, or outside, their reach:  mathematics, philosophy, history, geography. And so we see the creation of these charming annotated maps, I think I have a new collection obsession, but if all of the sold lots below are any indication, I fear that I might be a bit late to the party.

Schoolgirl Map of Mass detail

Schoolgirl map Quakers 1835 Skinner

Northeast Schoolgirl map

Schoolgirl map of Latin America

Detail of pen-and-ink map of Massachusetts drawn by Maria C. Butler of Utica, NY in 1815 (before Mrs. Willard’s plan–maybe she gets too much credit?), sold by Andrew Spindler Antiques, a great shop up in Essex; Quaker map of the United States by Anna A. Wilbur of the Friends School, Providence, 1835, Skinner Auctions; Watercolor map of  the western and eastern hemispheres by Ann E. Colson and Laura Northrop, Athens, NY, 1809 (also before Emma), Northeast Auctions; Map of South America by Massachusetts schoolgirl Tirzah Bearse, 1831, Joan R. Brownstein Art and Antiques.

Doors of Winter Street

One of the things that I like best about Salem is that I notice, or see, something new (really old) every day. It doesn’t matter how many times I have walked along a certain route, I’ll always spot something that I haven’t taken notice of before. I don’t have the same eye for the natural landscape, only the man-made one. Details emerge and stop me in my tracks. Yesterday’s late-afternoon run around Salem Common somehow turned into a more leisurely walk up Winter Street, a wide boulevard that has served as one of Salem’s major northerly access routes almost from its foundation: consequently it is lined with really lovely eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses. I was looking for late-summer gardens, but as this is a main entrance corridor, most of the gardens are tucked away out back–and suddenly all I could see was doors, really beautiful doors, each one unique. Now I actually lived on Winter Street for a brief stretch of time between houses, but I never really noticed these doors before, and suddenly they had all my attention. So here’s a sampling, beginning (after a little orientation) with the stunning entrance of one my favorite houses on the street, a brick Greek Revival.

Winter Street Map Perley 1905

Winter Street 024

Winter Street 025

Winter Street 032

Winter Street 026

Winter Street 028

Winter Street 031

Winter Street 034

Winter Street Postcard

Detail of Sidney Perley’s 1905 map of Salem, Boston Public Library, and doors of Winter Street houses; the louvred door and front of one of my favorite Winter Street houses, built in 1827 and pictured on the right of the circa 1910 postcard of Winter Street.

Mapping the Book

For some reason, I belong to all of these membership shopping sites. They send me daily notices of their “special” sales, which usually just annoy me; seldom do I click through and look at their wares. But I did click on the Fab link the other day, and found some really neat pictorial maps of the scenes, plots, characters and places of some classic books, including Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, and Robin Hood, produced by the Harris-Seybold  Company of Cleveland, Ohio in the 1950s, presumably to showcase their cutting-edge printing equipment. These are different from the make-believe maps you find in children’s books (NeverlandMiddle Earth) because they are representations of real places, superimposed with fictional characters (well, all of them except for Treasure Island). The Library of Congress also featured these maps, in its exhibition and accompanying book Language of the Land:  Journeys into a Literary America.

Literary Maps Moby Dick

Literary Maps Huck Finn

Literary Maps Virginian

Literary Maps Robin Hood

Literary Maps Treasure Island

Harris-Seybold Literary Maps of Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, and The Virginian, 1953, Library of Congress, and of Robin Hood and Treasure Island, 1953, Fab.com.

So much better than those old-fashioned literary maps where authors’ heads are placed on their state or town–but many of these can be found in the Library of Congress’s exhibition as well. I spent considerable time (now lost) trying to make a literary map for Salem based on Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables following this Google Earth procedure, with less than impressive results. Instead, I’m featuring a cropped image from another vivid mid-century map, Alva Scott Garfield’s Scott-Map of SALEM MassachusettsThe Wealth of the Indies to the Uttermost Gulf!” Scott’s maps are always extremely well-annotated–and often very cleverly so: the caption underneath the requisite witch on her broomstick reads “aviation started in Salem” while a nearby musket-bearing Puritan is captioned “the anti-aircraft is surprised” (see below). In the proximity of the actual House of the Seven Gables she has assembled many of the characters from the House of the Seven Gables (Clifford and Hepzibah, Phoebe, Judge Pyncheon), creating a perfect literary map of this little corner of Salem. And in another corner, Scott has placed characters from The Scarlet Letter, and the author himself, near the Mall Street house where Hawthorne penned his first novel, charting more literary territory.

Literary Maps Scott

Scott Salem

Scott Map

Alva Scott Garfield, A Scott-Map of Salem, c. 1950s, Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc.

Rails to Resorts

Even before our university archivist posted a 1914 Boston & Maine Railroad map of the “Summer Resorts of the Coast, Lake and Mountain Regions” along its routes (and despite this past week’s terrible train derailments in Quebec and Paris) I had been planning a vaguely conceived “summer railroads” post. I know all the wealthy people who lived on my street a century ago who summered (or “rusticated”) in Maine took the train, and since we’re going camping (!!!!!!!) in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in a few weeks, I had the romantic notion of throwing all our stuff in the cargo car and making our connection to the Bar Harbor Express.  The train does indeed run through Salem, but no place in the U.S. is as connected by rail as it was a century ago, and the Bar Harbor Express no longer runs (we’ll need the car anyway, so I can sleep in it).

Mapping Vacation 1914

Mapping Vacation 1882p

Two Railroad Advertising Maps:  Boston & Maine “Summer Resorts”  1914 map, Salem State University Archives; an earlier (1882) version for New York’s train tourists, New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

These maps were just part of the railroads’ multi-faceted print advertising campaigns, which must have been extremely effective during hot summers like this one, when people were eager to leave the sweltering cities for cooler spots at the coast and mountains. In conjunction with its maps, the Boston & Maine railroad, which dominated the New England market until the 1960s, issued a series of stunning posters by Charles W. Holmes in the 1920s which focused on the appeal of summer resorts near (there’s even one for Revere Beach) and far. They really capture that air of interwar elegance, and represent the increasing accessibility of New England’s “vacationlands”.

Mapping Vacation 1925 Charles Holmes BPL

Mapping Vacation Old Orchard BPL

Mapping Vacation Holmes Win BPL

And for later in the year, the Snow Train………………..

Mapping Vacation Snow Train

Travel posters by Charles W. Holmes for Boston and Maine Railraod, 1920s, Boston Public Library travel poster collection.

Joan for the Ages

Today marks the day of Joan of Arc’s execution at the hands of the Rouen Inquisition under the thumb of the English occupiers of France in 1431, and consequently her Feast Day, as of 1920. She was accused of a myriad of charges, but ultimately it was her conviction as a relapsed heretic that led to her death by burning at the stake, as well as the desire of the English to demonize such an inspirational figure in the closing stages of the Hundred Years’ War. There are many interesting things about Joan’s life and death, but one of the most compelling aspects of her image is its timelessness, which is discussed at length (and in many manifestations) in two great books: a collection of essays edited by Dominique Goy-Blanquet entitled Joan of Arc, a Saint for All Reasons: Studies in Myth and Politics (2003) and Nora Heimann’s Joan of Arc in French Art and Culture (1700-1855): From Satire to Sanctity (2005).

Jehanne La Pucelle, the “Maid of Orleans” was famous in her own time and immediately after her death. I love the poem by her contemporary Christine de Pisan, directed to the French king but really all about Joan:

And you, the King of France, King Charles,
The seventh of that noble name,
Who fought a mighty war before
Good fortune came at all to you:
Do, now, observe your dignity Exalted by the Maid, who bent
Your enemies beneath your flag
In record time (that’s something new!)

That’s something new! It sounds so modern, but I guess Joan was pretty modern in the fifteenth century, which might account for some of her timelessness thereafter. She resurfaces pretty predictably in times of conflict: the French Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century, the French Revolution in the eighteenth century, World Wars I & II in the twentieth century. All of her cultural depictions could fill a museum, or an encyclopedia, but certainly she is transformed into a nineteenth-century romantic heroine by Friedrich Schiller’s 1801 play, The Maid of Orleans.  She was embraced by the Suffrage movements on both side of the Atlantic in the early twentieth century, and she remains a feminist hero(ine) in our own time. Joan’s eternal image can be seen in depictions from a succession of centuries, beginning with the late fifteenth-century manuscript poem Les Vigiles du roi Charles VII by Martial d’Auvergne (Paris, BnF, département des Manuscrits, Français 5054) and proceeding into the last century.


Joan of Arc 16th c. 1505 ms

The Maid of Orleans in Les Vigiles du Roi Charles VII, later 15th century, and riding into battle in Les Vies des femmes célèbres by Antoine Du Four, about 1505, Dobrée Museum, Nantes, France.

Joan of Arc Gaultier 1612 BM

Joan of Arc 1542 Fuller Holy State

Joan of Arc in print in the seventeenth century:  prints by Leonard Gaultier (1612) and William Marshall (1642), British Museum.

I’m skipping over the eighteenth century, when the imagery associated with Voltaire’s scandalous poem La Pucelle d’Orléans reduces Joan to a sexual object; you would think the Enlightenment would be a great time for the Maid as a victim of the Inquisition, but it isn’t. It’s in the following centuries that she really gains power as both an iconic and historical (with the release of the trial records in the 1840s) figure, tying into the emerging nationalist and feminist movements (sometimes at the same time).

Joan of Arc 1815

Joan Harpers 19th

Joan of Arc France Lillian Tennant Lancaster c. 1910

Joan of Arc 1913

Joan of Arc 1917 LC

Joan of Arc Posters

Satirical print of the support for Napoleon among French “Amazonian” women, who rally around a statue of Joan, Jean Baptiste Genty, 1815, British Museum; Edward Penfield cover for Harper’s, April 1895, New York Public Library Digital Gallery; Lillian Lancaster [Tennant] Map of France as Joan of Arc (or vice-versa), 1910, Garwood & Voight; Progam Cover for the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession, Washington, D.C., Library of Congress; Joan of Arc They are Calling You (a “weeping” France) sheet music, 1917, Library of Congress; U.S. war posters from the First and Second World Wars, Library of Congress.


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