Monday, November 1, 2010

The Wall Maps, part II

The third of our little series of classic school wall maps is of a more recent vintage than the previous two, but it is no less classic.  A dazzlingly appropriate gift from Niece #1, it is photographed at an odd angle here because we have it hanging in a hallway.


Like the older maps we've looked at in this little series, it reveals nearly as much about the mindset of the cartographers as it does about Michigan.  In this case, it's revealing what the mapmakers thought was important to include on a map, whether it was especially relevant or not.  We see the full spectrum of elevation tones used here in the towering mountains of the Upper Peninsula, for instance, implying that Iron County is some sort of towering Tibetan Plateau set high above the Midwestern prairies. A closer look reveals that the black color represents areas above a not-especially-impressive 1800 feet.


It is an awfully detailed way of saying "Michigan is basically pretty flat."

The best of the supplementary thematic maps shows an important and significant pattern:


...and the old-school economic map is precisely attuned to a c.1955 vision of what's what in money-making: iron and coal, fields and farms.


The inclusion of oil fields seems a little optimistic; Michigan is currently the, um, 17th-ranking state in terms of oil production.  The inclusion of "salt fields" seems a bit c.1455, but whatever.  Michigan is apparently a pretty big state for salt production, but then the same website that told me so claims that "The greatest rock salt production in the U. S. is obtained from the Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario."


My favorite of the thematic maps, though, is this one.  Can you see why?


A map of its own, with those carefully-drawn isohyets (real word!) describing the intricate pattern of Michigan's rainfall... which ranges from a little under 32 inches/year to a little over 36 inches/year.  Which is to say, the felt need for a precipitation map ran roughshod over a sensible statement to the effect of "eh, it rains 34 inches a year everywhere in the state, give or take."

But What About Dorkfest?

It always takes a while to choose a new Dork.  Be patient.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really appreciate what you're creating here!

Aviatrix said...

Is that Ontario, California, or is Manifest Destiny back on the table?

Also, I can't believe I was out of town and completely missed Dorkfest 2010.

Nichim said...

I know that the Dork competition is over, but I just have to let you know - I discovered that the library I work in has The Tolkien Encyclopedia and now I just go downstairs and read it during my breaks. I'm most of the way through A.

Jenners said...

I'm probably too late but I'm throwing my considerable weight as Former Vice Dork behind Yankee In England.

Michael5000 said...

Noted

Anonymous said...

Finaly blog with useful informations.
Thank You

Libby said...

Michigan?? I LOVE Michigan! Best map ever. OK, top 500 or so.

Libby said...

BTW I appreciate the useful informations.

Michael5000 said...

Libby: For you, anything.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

That is a map of my oven mitt. Don't try to pull one over on me.

Michael5000 said...

Dr. Noisewater: Finally comment with useful informations.

Phineas said...

That's 'finaly', not 'finally', sir.