The flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward explained and performed on a map by climatologist Barry Keim from Louisiana State University on his Hurricane Katrina & Environmental Tour of Metropolitan New Orleans at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) 2018. Many thanks to Barry for geographical insights and stories told of life and death in New Orleans now and then.
The clip was recorded at the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Platform, located at the end of Caffin Avenue at the intersection with Florida Ave. The spot is worth visiting as it offers further information on the ecology of the Main Outfall Canal situated behind the Lower Ninth Ward.
For information on why the Katrina disaster was man made and not ‘natural’, see the grassroots website levee.org.
As an urban geographer and ethnographer, I could not resist to film some of the more performative aspects of the tour and the ways geographers talk about and listen to how cities are transformed over time. Using maps is of course just one geographical thing to do on a field trip. Other spatial practices and gestures of interest: pointing at landscape features, taking pictures, taking notes, searching for shadow, walking and talking, categorising spaces, moving and looking around, group behaviour (such as getting on and off the bus), personal (geographical) conversations (e.g. ‘where are you based’) and many more.
(Recorded on 11 April 2018. Video published courtesy of Barry Kim)
A map published by the Tagesanzeiger today shows the difference in rental prices of an average 3 room flat (2 bedroom flat) along the Zurich tramway network. Monthly rental varies between CHF 1630 (Euro 1488) and CHF 3240 (Euro 2959). (click to zoom) The original article is here.
How to catch a copycat criminal when it comes to map making? To protect their work – collecting data, drawing, check spelling etc. and constantly double checking with what is really out there – companies use a simple trick. This is to add small fake cities, streets or houses to the maps they produce. If someone copies the map, instead of producing a genuine one, the company will be able to identify the copycat criminal by indicating the artificially introduced features that do not exist in reality.
Agloe, a city on the maps of New York, was such a copyright trap. It was added by Otto G. Lindbergh and Ernest Alpers from General Drafting Co. to a road map in the state of New York that they made in the 1930s. A few years later it appeared on a map of the rival firm Rand McNally. Lindbergh and Alpers had every argument at hand to bring legal proceedings against the makers of the new map.
However, Rand McNally could prove that the place exists. They could show that there is a shop at the place in question that is named as ‘Agloe General Store’. The fake place was transformed into a real place through a series of events: The shop owner found the name on a map. The map was issued by Esso. Esso obtained the map from Lindbergh and Alpers. The shop owner used ‘Agloe’ from the Esso map to name his store.
‘Agloe General Store’ has vanished since. However, Agloe still appeared on Google Maps a few years ago. Whilst Google has removed the name since, the US Geological Survey added Agloe to the Geographic Names Information System.
John Green uses the myth of Agloe in his novel Paper Towns. The book was adapted into a film. Fans of book and film have recently reopened search for Agloe. Today, there is a sign where the coordinates appear on the map.
Berlin besetzt is a website that visualises squatted places in Berlin from 1970 onwards. The site provides for information and archival material on individual squats. Check also on the SqEK mapping project, which is an attempt to collectively extend this mapping approach to other European cities.
This is a video map of a concierge control tour, a so-called block check, which I have recorded together with concierges of the Red Road flats in Glasgow in 2006. During a block check, the concierge would systematically walk down and control the stairs from the top to the ground floor. The map is clickable and it was originally integrated in the Highrise Project website. In the ‘The living building‘ I write about block-checking as an urban practice and how it contributed to the viability of this tall building. And it did so, even when back then, it was officially known that the flats will be demolished in the near future and clearance had already started. The building, in which the block check was recorded, was demolished on 10th June 2012.