Tag Archives: geography

Try Drawing an Outline of the Midwest on a Map

17 May

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

The Midwest is real, but exactly where it is is not something all agree upon. Jenny Xie at The Atlantic provides some links to an exhibit at the Boston Society of Architects that, among other things, challenges people to draw the boundaries of the Midwest. You can find the site here: Go Ahead, Try Drawing an Outline of the Midwest on a Map – CityLab.

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Photographs of Detroit in the 1940s

15 Jan

The early part of the 20th century saw the city of Detroit, Michigan, rise to prominence on the huge growth of the auto industry and related manufacturers. The 1940s were boom years of development, but the decade was full of upheaval and change, as factories re-tooled to build war machines, and women started taking on men’s roles in the workplace, as men shipped overseas to fight in World War II. The need for workers brought an influx of African-Americans to Detroit, who met stiff resistance from whites who refused to welcome them into their neighborhoods or work beside them on an assembly line. A race riot took place over three days in 1943, leaving 34 dead and hundreds injured. After World War II ended, the demand for workers dried up, and Detroit started plotting its postwar course, an era of big automobiles and bigger highways to accommodate them.

So writes Alan Taylor in introducing 30 photographs of Detroit in the 1940s. You can view these fascinating photos at the Atlantic site here: Detroit in the 1940s – The Atlantic.

People In London Tried To Label The 50 US States On A Map

2 Dec

Boston Line atlas for the blind

13 Aug

Rebecca Onion at Slate’s The Vault has posted some scans from an 1837 atlas for the blind. You can find this fascinating post here: History of education for the blind: Samuel Gridley Howe’s Boston Line atlas.

Space, Place, and Historylessness

6 Aug

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Perhaps the most overlooked form of liberation promised by the gurus of modern emancipation comes in the form of historylessness. Human beings have usually had a “place” in history, the felt presence of ancestors, of inherited culture, a sense that as individuals and groups they played an appointed role in a story not of their making. But as the pace of technological, social, and cultural change accelerates, we increasingly experience our environment in a way that exposes no clear dependence on the distant or middle past. The ways of our grandparents are so hopelessly ill-suited to the contemporary environment that one might well consider knowledge of history a useless form of antiquarianism. The conquest of space is also the conquest of history, if not of time. No longer bound to our places of birth, we can more easily ignore the history attending any temporary places we might later inhabit. We…

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On the Scientific Value of Columbus’s Voyages

14 Oct

On Columbus Day, UCLA historian Joyce Appleby offers an interpretation of Columbus’ scientific importance as an explorer:

History News Network | The True Value of Columbus’s Voyages.

I demur, however, from her assertion that “the Catholic Church proscribed curiosity” in the 1490s. Perhaps she thinks Christian Platonism reigned unchallenged in medieval universities and other centers of learning until the 16th century. Aquinas, though, fostered a greater attention to the created order through a Christian Aristotelianism which began to unfold in various ways in the 13th century and after. Roger Bacon (13th century) was certainly curious about things.

Of course, there are other issues connected with Columbus, entangled with his attitudes and actions toward those whom he called “Indios”–Indians. He thought he was doing God’s work, but the ends did not justify the means, and even the ends–Christian empire–were and are suspect by the standards of the One he claimed to serve. He was a man of his time, for better and for worse. Bartolome de las Casas, a priest and a contemporary, pointed out much of this, as noted in this brief Columbus Day piece at Indian Country Today.

Placing Ourselves in the U.S.

20 Sep

Maps and I go way back. I’ve always been fascinated by them. Indeed, I put maps on the ceiling of my bedroom (my wife doesn’t let me do that now).

Maps are human creations. They tell us about their makers, and users, as much as they do about what they are of.

In the Digital Age, maps are less and less in our heads, however, and more and more in our electronic devices. Are we on the way to becoming people who know less and less about where any place is, because our devices will take us there?

Dave Imus is a geographer who makes maps. I had not heard of him or his work until the latest High Country News arrived. If you are interested in maps, and knowing places, read about him and his Essential Geography of the United States of America here.

U.S. Streets and Rivers

8 Jul

Understanding “place” includes, of course, geography. Maps are part of the construction of places–and they can also help us see places. Matt Rosenberg’s About.com Geography provides this information about two U.S. maps that can help us see some places anew:

Two incredible maps of the conterminous 48 United States show nothing but the streets and streams. The first, All Streets, is the product of Ben Fry and it consists of 240 million road segments. It clearly displays the density of urban areas along with the topography of the country in road-less regions. The second map, All Rivers is a more natural detailed view of the topography of the country, displaying the watersheds of the nation. Both maps are absolutely worth a look.

American English Dialects

8 May

Thanks to John Fea for finding this site that sends tingles down the spine of those of us fascinated by “place”:

American English Dialects.

Take a look–and then listen …

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