Stamen’s New Web App Draws Watercolor Maps

Some people just see the world in a more colorful way… and this new web app from Stamen proves it. Working much like any other web based mapping system, users simply type in what town or city they want to see and swish… the page is populated with a beautifully rendered watercolor-like map. Towns appear awash in colorful blues, greens and reds that neatly bleed into their neighbors in gradient pools. Lines appear sometimes wide and sometimes narrow in the organic, rounded style of the wet art form.

The United Zipcodes of Craigslist

When you visit the Craigslist website, the first thing you usually do is select the region you want to search within. Those Craigslist defined boundaries are sometimes pretty broad, from the San Francisco Bay Area to the entire state of Maine. A while ago, John Nelson of IDV User Experience created a very intriguing map based on those boundaries which is both useful as a window into what the Craigslist folks view as our local regions and as a targeted marketing reference. Now, Nelson has created an even more useful map, this time visualizing the nations zip codes which fall within the Craigslist boundaries.

US Interstate Highways as a Subway Map

As for useful readability, there are few examples that do it better than the iconic London Underground Map. Instead of placing stations in there actual location, or depicting the real path of underground trains, the maps simply cuts to the chase illustrating where people need to connect to their next train. Designer Cameron Booth has recently updated his wonderful US Interstate Highway map which uses the same smart design language to create a highly attractive and useful map.

Compared to the US: What Percentage Income Are You?

With all the talk about the 1% in recent months, it’s been pretty common to wonder where we all measure up compared to that famous percentage of wealth. To help answer the question, the New York Times has put out two graphics analyzing what the wealth distribution of the nation really looks like. The first is a detailed interactive graphic allowing you to directly compare your household income to the national average, state averages and even your local county. By inputting your household income, the graphic generates your percentage compared to the area you select. The second graphic, a colorful grid, examines which professions hold the highest percentage and number of 1 percent-ers in that field in the nation.

A Home Made US Map Wins National Best in Show

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.

A London Underground “Tube” Map From Kyle Bean

Now this is taking the idea of London’s famous ‘Tube‘ quite literally: Kyle Bean, designer, model maker and all around advertising re-thinker has created the London metro map using colored drinking straws. His map uses the colorful tubes in a playful, elementary school craft-time like fashion, which when finished appears completely to scale and quite grown up… that’s because he’s built the design over a large poster of the actual map. His final design, lacking the station labels needed to navigate the system, is still highly recognizable for what it is, a truly iconic design tribute.

Changing Forests: Interactive Map of Tree Losses

The rapid decline of forests around the world is having an impact on local environments and the world as a whole. This sobering graphic by The New York Times brings home the impact of both the ancient forests we have lost, and the recent deforestation worldwide due to logging for timber, clearing farmland and even making toilet paper. As the Times reports, the “world’s 9.9 billion acres of forest absorb roughly a quarter of human emissions of carbon dioxide, and help limit the increase of the gas in the atmosphere.” As our world continues to heat up, even by small increments, will we see further forests lost to climate change?

The Heaviest Map Ever?

Looking like a bleached version of Google Earth, the level of detail and accuracy in this tiny re-creation of Manhattan island is truly astounding. The fact that it was hand carved out of a huge block of marble makes it even more impressive… and at two and a half tons incredibly heavy too. Recently put on display at the David Zwirner gallery in New York, the piece titled ‘Little Manhattan’ was meticulously carved by artist Yataka Sone using photographs, many helicopter rides and yes, Google Earth to reproduce the islands towering buildings, canyon like streets and famous bridges.

Vintage Maps Trace the Meandering Mississippi

For anyone obsessed with beautiful maps, these colorful and informative examples tracking the many paths of the lower Mississippi are a dream come true. The monumental collection was produced in 1944 by Harold N. Fisk, who drew in a rainbow of colors the path of past and current flows as the mighty river changed course and flooded over time. For a full size .zip file (197MB!) of the maps, head to the ERDC. It’s useful information, beautifully displayed.

A New Map of the Worlds Social Networks

This up to date, June 2011 map of the worlds most popular social networks shows a sweeping growth of blue… you guessed it: Facebook. Since creator Vincenzo Cosenza’s initial June 2009 map, network after network have fallen to Mark Zuckerburg’s social giant. Based on data from Alexa and Google Trends for Websites these maps reflect the current domination by Facebook in 119 of the 134 countries analyzed. Check out the animated image below for a play by play of social network history.