Data + Design Project

A Home Made US Map Wins National Best in Show

Tuesday 01.03.2012 , Posted by
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It’s not often that a simple paper US wall map gets national attention. The omnipresent designs, with their colored state borders, cities and highways have been pinned or rolled on elementary school walls for the entire lives of those who inhabit the States today. Yet the map we bring you today has been garnering much praise for its well thought out design choices, winning the coveted “Best in Show” from the Cartography and Geographic Information Society and thus dethroning giant institutions like National Geographic, Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau who have won the award consistently in the past.

What makes this map so special? For one, unlike most modern maps which are designed using an algorithm to place text, often cleaned up later by low payed foreign workers, this map was created by just one man. Working essentially on his own in his Eugene, Oregon farm house, cartographer David Imus spent two years and around 6000 hours creating his masterpiece. He spent much of his time carefully arranging the maps typography, obsessing over font types, letter thickness and kerning, insuring that the map was both highly readable and information rich.

Click the image below for a larger view.

One of the most significant differences between the maps that have come before and Imus’ design, is his choice to use thick green lines to delineate states, rather than bold colors. In doing this, he emphasizes geographic features rather than political ones, allowing us to more clearly see that a river defines the boundary between Kentucky and Indiana in the left map below. Unlike most US maps which use a stark white background, Imus further emphasized natural geography by using varying shades of green to clearly show the countries varied terrain.

Imus’ map on the left, uses thick green lines to delineate state borders, allowing a clearer picture of what actually dictates the placement of the state line.

In Imus’ map on the left, each airport has it’s three letter abbreviation and local features like universities and attractions are shown. The red line marked FY is a ferry between Milwaukee and Muskegon.

Some would argue that, with all the touch screen maps at our fingertips today, paper maps are un-important and out of date. But what all of those digital maps lack, is the ability to really stand back and take in the big picture, observing from a distance how states connect, how terrain changes across the country and how that terrain effects the layout of things. Without that big picture, a true understanding of geography and the placement of things is difficult to grasp. You can pick up your own beautiful 50 x 35 inch copy of Imus’ THE ESSENTIAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA for as little as $12.95 at imusgeographics.com.

Click the image below for a larger view.

Click the image below for a larger view.

Via: slate.com

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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Comments

  1. Beautiful job. But, how about this one? I purchased the National Geographic Society’s “Everest World Globe” for more than $5,000. It is a grand affair map on a glass globe made in Germany. And, it sits in a beautifully finished wood base/surround-stand, waist high. Around the perimeter of the wood surround are the months of the year inlaid in mother of pearl. Also inlaid are the four directions: N, S, E, and W. The globe is correctly tilted on its axis.

    One day my brother was studying the globe when he noticed that both the summer solstice and winter solstice points were set wrong. Hard to believe, but, they are set at April and October.

    By coincidence, I had a friend who worked at the National Geographic and I called to tell her of the amazing error. She in turn had the Chief of the Cartography Section call me. The fellow began by telling me that he had no record of my owning an “Everest Globe”. When I told him the name on the order, the conversation continued.

    After explaining the error to the fellow, there was a stunned silence on the phone. When he regained his composure his mind went into high gear, telling me that the inlays were just historical representations and had nothing to do with actual references.

    I ended the conversation by telling the fellow that I understand that the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice were just old ideas and not to be taken as facts.
    Also, that I did not want the globe corrected as I considered it to be a Collector’s Item of great value.

    Imagine, I have a major offering of The National Geographic Society that can not align the tilt of the earth to June and December. Best of all, The Society denies that such an artifact even exists.

  2. Bill,
    That is a fascinating and entertaining story! I agree that you have quite a treasure, considering National Geographic got their facts wrong :) Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. It is great that paper map prints are still in use. Thanks to imusgeographics that they made people use poster maps in their walls or road maps in their cars. In the digital map era some people think that the googlemaps or the digital navigation will choose all the map need. It is not true. You can only get the most detail of a country with a map like imus map. I have heard about the map from the internet, by a newsletter. It seems that the attention to the map rised since it is an award winning map. There are many articles and news on the internet about the map, and also a pdf file with the comparisons on https://imusgeographics.com/ . As a cartographer I can say that it is a “beatiful map”, with most detailed information. I would like to have one to see the map print quality. Many political maps shows the boundaries with different colours, but it is a courage to use single green colours for the borders. Becouse there is an axpectation on the users that the boundaries will be coloured. But this green single colour makes the map easy to use. I will soon put this political map on http://www.pusulaharita.com and also map prints for sale on http://www.mapist.com.tr.

  4. i have heard about d map from the internet, by a newsletter. but this green single color makes the map easy to use .Thank u so much for sharing

  5. Bill,

    Do you have any idea how many people own wall maps. We have been making in roads in the industry and I was asked this question the other day. I honestly did not have an answer. I have tried searching the internet and all I get is maps for sale.

    Thanks

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