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The Mapping London Blog by Ollie - 1w ago

London’s been sweltering under a heatwave for the last couple of weeks. Mapping London co-creator Dr James Cheshire has created this map from the latest (29 JUne) Landsat 8 thermal imagery of the capital.

ExCeL is a particular hotspot – its large, flat, metallic roof was showing a temperature of 38°C, having been baked by the sun. The map uses a striking thermal colour ramp – ranging from hot to super-hot.

Dr Cheshire’s advice – head to the parks to stay cool.

Copyright Spatial Analysis/James Cheshire.

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This is a map of Hackney Borough, from the perspective of its old, wealthy houses, and the discovered and undiscovered treasures buried under them. It was drawn by Adam Dant, and is one of the maps featured in his book “Maps of London & Beyond” which was published last month and we reviewed. The map is also available as a fine art print from TAG Fine Arts.

We really like the green colours – Hackney is a bustling, inner city borough, but this is a reminder of its more rural times, and its many parks that remain. The use of Kingsland Road as the defining geographical feature, showing it as the widest road, and a straight line (both which are true in real life too), is striking. The little building sketches, complete with signpost style captions, also act to enhance the map.

There is an exhibition showing large format versions of some of the maps in the book, and other works, at The Map House in Knightsbridge, running until 14 July.

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A lot of Londoners are currently focused on the World Cup in Russia at the moment, so Mapping London is taking a look eastwards, thanks to the latest boutique map created by productive cartographers Blue Crow Media. The map is essentially a Moscow version of their London Underground Architecture & Design Map and features the same basic concept of taking a complex metro network, mapping it geographically, and then including, on the reverse, a detailed guide to the most architecturally impressive parts of the underground system, complete with photos and descriptions.

The map and guide are bilingual, in England and Russian. The central Moscow area has an inset map, where the metro is shown in the context of the street network. The map data comes from OpenStreetMap. The map is finished in a card wallet, with an “M” cut out of the front, allowing a sneak peak of the cartography within. Londoners are very proud of the London Underground’s efficiency (most of the time) and history, but are perhaps willing to accept that the Moscow Metro is even more ornate than their own, and this guide nicely encapsulates the opulence of Moscow’s mass transit. It is available from Blue Crow Media’s online store.

Thanks to Blue Crow Media for the review copy.

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Adam Dant has, for a long time, been sketching lovely maps of London history, culture and phenomena, often focusing in particular on the historic East End. Now, Batsford, an imprint of Pavilion Books, has produced this book, collating Dant’s existing wonderful maps (and debuting some new ones) in single place and adding background information. The book has been created in partnership with Spitalfields Life, a long-running local blog for the area, and is published today.

The book is impressively large, each individual page being landscape A3 size. This format gives each map the space it needs on a single page, to allow the detail, often including hand-written annotations and depictions of individual people, houses, cartouches and other embellishments, to come out clearly. The paper is also uncoated, giving a slightly rough, traditional map feel. The overall production quality and presentation is excellent – always critical for a book containing so many graphic works – congratulations to Batsford for taking such care with the production, giving the maps the justice they deserve. There are nearly 50 maps in all, many of whom have only previously been available as fine art works. A lovely graphical contents page (actually run-in across several pages) provides a glimpse of each map, through a circle, for those wanting to pick and choose rather than read from cover to cover.

The title hints that it’s not just London that has been drawn by Dant, and indeed near the end locations as diverse as Paris, Rome, Scotland’s Great Glen and Tunbridge Wells get the cartographic treatment too. But first and foremost this is a book capturing London. Themes stretch from slang to Shakespeare, riots to coffee houses and Hackney to Mayfair.

Who knew there were so many wrecks in the Thames estuary, just east of London?

Or that central London really is a grid city, like New York – as long as you simplify, removing some of the smaller streets:

And perhaps best of all, there’s a new tube map – one that depicts the Circle line as a proper circle and makes Zones 1-6 concentric circles (shown in alternating yellow and white here) radiating outwards:

The book complements Mapping London co-author Dr James Cheshire’s data-focused “London: The Information Capital” and the more whimsical Curiocity by Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose, its niche being as a compendium of nuanced observations on the capital. As such, with its unique perspective, it is an essential additional to the coffee table for anyone who is passionate about London, history and cartography.

An exhibition of the book’s maps will take place at The Map House in Knightsbridge, presented by TAG Fine Arts, from 28 June until 14 July. The book is available on Amazon, from Spitalfields Life, and in all good bookstores.

With thanks to Batsford Books for kindly providing a review copy, and to Adam Dant for drawing all the wonderful maps.

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The Tube Map is a design classic – the straight lines, even spacing and lack of unnecessary above-ground detail has become a hall-mark of metro maps across the world, since it was first drawn by H.C. Beck in the 1930s. Today, the printed versions of London’s tube map include a specific acknowledgement of the creator of the concept, even as the map itself has greatly expanded with the addition of a many new services. However, there was a period of time, between the merging together of various rival networks in central London at the beginning of the 20th century, and the creation of the Beck tube map, when cartographers attempted to show the crowded and complex network in different, but geographically-focused, ways.

This map, by E.G. Perman, and available in the David Rumsey Map Collection, was one of the last maps produced, of London’s tube network, before the Beck “revolution” of the 1930s. It was drawn in 1927 and issued the following year, and shows some network simplifications – the lines between stations are shown with simple, gentle curves, rather than capturing the actual wiggles of the network. Stations are shown as small filled diamonds for regular stations, and larger, hollow diamonds for larger ones – when these are overlaid, due to the different colours of the different lines, there is some indication of the connection. Interestingly, and surprisingly, the complex crossovers of the Northern Line, just south of Camden Town, are shown on the map. Connections with mainline rail are shown beside the relevant station with small curly lines, with the operator name written just below them in a smaller text.

This being a 1920s map, the classic “flowery” touches are present, such as the sweeping serifs of the font, waves on the water features, and the ornate map border.

The most impressive feat of the map is showing the tube network geographically, plus the major streets of central London, the Thames, parks and tourist attractions, while not making the map overly crowded. There’s even enough room to draw an elephant at the Zoo, the windmill in Wimbledon Common, a stag in Richmond Park, a steamer on the Thames and so on – just enough illustration to benefit the map and not overwhelm it. Bus links are shown at the end of several lines. Some of the longer lines are also truncated with the farther out stations simply indicated as a list. Tourist attractions are indicated with colour coded and numbered symbols (the back of the map detailed these).

They don’t make tube maps like they used to – a simple pure geographical map of the tube is not easy to read – but I reckon that if a tube map was made in this style, today, it could still work as something functional and informative, while also being attractive and representative. Many Londoners and visitors rely on the modern tube map as their main reference map of London, and it’s a shame if they never see how everything above ground joins together, as is effectively shown on this 90-year-old map.

The imagery is from the David Rumsey Map Collection and is Copyright © Cartography Associates 2018.

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[Updated with additional technical detail – see below]

Here’s a fascinating data map of ground deformation (subsidence, upswelling) in central London, based on data from 2011-2017 and recalibrated to show the average annual change – be it rising (blue = 2mm/year upwards) or sinking (red = 2mm/year downwards). The data was obtained from 150 remote sensing images captured by the TerraSAR-X satellite and other InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) sources. It was processed using at TRE ALTAMIRA in Milan, Italy, using a technique called Permanent Scatterer Interferometry.

All sorts of interesting patterns appear from the map. The most obvious is the red line running across the middle – the Crossrail tunnels across central London. The project has likely resulted in the slight drop in levels seen, although extensive compensation grouting has aimed to minimise the changes. Other red lines show electrical ducting projects and other utilities/infrastructure projects. Conversely, a large blue area near the south edge of the map might be early premptive groundwork on the Northern line Underground extension to Battersea Power Station, and the extensive residential works at Battersea Power Station (which is right at river/sea level) and the Vauxhall area in general. The specific reason however is not known.

The large red area to the east could be two projects – various residential and other construction around the O2 Arena in North Greenwich, and the various works on the north bank opposite – London City Island, Limmo Peninsula shaft for Crossrail tunnelling works, and general residential tower development at Canning Town. This area has the River Lea running through it with dramatic meanders. The dewatering of deep chalk aquifer here, necessary to stabilise the ground, has seen a significant drop. Also, crucially, there were no buildings here before, so ground level changes have not needed to be carefully controlled as they need to be when working near existing structures.

Some other stories are a little harder to spot – new trees being planted in West Ham Park, or events being held here that have caused the ground to change level? Presenting as a map like this with a simple spectral colour ramp is an effective and clear way of communicating data in a way that tells a story, even if all the patterns cannot immediately be explained.

Thank you to Christine Bischoff at Imperial College for preparing and supplying the map and technical information, more of which is included verbatim below.

Background on InSAR

InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) is a remote sensing tool that provides reliable ground surface displacement measurements. Greater London is an ideal area to demonstrate the capabilities of InSAR monitoring. London’s continuous urban fabric as well as regular acquisition of SAR images from high resolution sensors, such as TerraSAR-X, allow monitoring over 1.7 million measurement points with millimetre-scale accuracy.

The data presented here were processed using an advanced InSAR technique called SqueeSARTM (2011 Ferretti et al.) at TRE ALTAMIRA, Milan, Italy. The SqueeSARTM algorithm is unique in providing a high spatial density of reliable measurements, even over rural areas or parkland, rather than just over urban areas. A detailed description and explanation of the SqueeSARTM technique can be found in 2011 Ferretti et al.

The majority of measurement points shown in the following figures are so-called permanent scatterers (PS). These are ground objects which reflect radar waves in a way that is stable over time, i.e. the object’s radar return does not lose coherence (2014 Ferretti). Amplitude and phase information are recorded for each radar image; any change in or movement of the PS position will result in a phase shift of the radar return between an image acquired before and one acquired after the movement (2014 Ferretti). After filtering out noise, topographic and atmospheric effects, this phase shift can be translated into a displacement in the Line of Sight (LOS) of the sensor, providing measurements of ground movement at mm-scale accuracy.

The data presented here is based on 150 images, acquired by an X-band (wavelength 3.1 mm) sensor mounted on a satellite called TerraSAR-X, which were acquired in regular, usually 11 day intervals between 01.05.2011 and 28.04.2017. The dataset contains, on average, 1482.1 measurement points per km2 in an area of over 650 km2. All displacement values referred to in this article are in the Line of Sight (LoS) of the sensor, which in this case means at an incidence angle of 37.33°.

Full Caption for Map

This is a ground deformation map of London retrieved from 150 radar satellite images acquired between 01.05.2011 and 28.04.2017 using Permanent Scatterer Interferometry (SqueeSARTM).The data were processed at TRE ALTAMIRA, Milan. Red corresponds to subsidence and blue to uplift (-2 to 2 mm/year), while black areas are mostly parks and the Thames, where no measurement points can be retrieved. Although most of London is stable, some zones are notably moving. The conspicuous red line meandering East-West is subsidence caused by the tunnelling for Crossrail and the red blob just East of Canary Wharf is caused by dewatering of the deep Chalk aquifer, which was necessary for Crossrail’s construction in East London. The areas of uplift (blue) found South of the Thames are yet to be explained.

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What do you do when you are a boutique retailer, with two showrooms that are both small and are a ten minute walk away from each other, with some interesting but confusing streets in between? If you are in a rush you just screenshot a Google Maps route and stick it on your website, so it’s refreshing to see deVOL, an upmarket kitchen retailer, has taken a different approach and has drawn and published of their Clerkenwell neighbourhood, showing not only a route between the two showrooms, but also a selection of interesting things to visit in the local area. The map was drawn by Assistant Graphic Designer Mol Mathews, and a blog post on the deVOL website details the brief and the process.

The has a nice mix of hand-annotated places and regularly labelled streets, with four pastel shades added sparingly to give a bit of colour to the map, and the all-important route highlighted in red. The map is firmly grounded in realism, with pubs, dogs, pigeons and brollies showcasing the reality of Clerkenwell life. 16 points are numbered, with an accompanying key detailing these “favourite spots”.

In all, it’s a lovely homage to a nice area of London, a work of care and attention, and best of all you can pick up a free copy in either of their showrooms.

Obtained from a deVOL showroom after Mapping London spotted a tweet.

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Mapping London has long enjoyed Stephen Walter’s fabulously detailed, painstakingly created pencil-sketch maps of London, and now one of his most famous works, The Island, has been made into a jigsaw puzzle. It was launched late last year by publishers Prestel UK and comes as a 500-piece work.

The team at Mapping London Towers likes to think that it knows London’s geography pretty well – after all, we’ve reviewed over 300 other maps here so far. So we assumed that completing this puzzle was going to be straightforward, something to piece together in a short break. How wrong we were – it took three of us nearly six hours each (over three long lunches) to complete the puzzle. There are various challenges making it harder – the map is black and white, which means there are no colour clues, apart from the red banded pieces forming the edge of the puzzle. In addition, as a semi-autobiographical work of the creator, some of the place names are spelt in local vernacular or slang. So going by simple place names is harder than you might expect.

Conversely, if you have a good knowledge of historical spots in London, some demographic statistics (such as the area with lowest life expectancy) or can recognise flags and know which London neighbourhoods the corresponding nationality has an established community in, then this can be invaluable. Subtle changes in the density of the penciled buildings can also help. Stephen was never afraid to voice his opinion on many areas, and even be downright derogatory about some of them – perhaps sometimes deserved. But you really need to know London’s rough as well as its smooth, for these to help with the task of solving.

The jigsaw puzzle pieces themselves are also unconventionally shaped. The edges tend to follow the edges of physical features, such as parks and rivers, or the national flags and placename labels drawn on the map. This might, we thought, make it easier, but even with “obvious” shapes such as the Thames horseshoe curve around the Isle of Dogs, finding the adjacent pieces was still involved. It does also mean the puzzle doesn’t hold together quite as well as a regular jigsaw, until it is completed (as the border pieces do have the normal, secure interlinking).

This was a great way to get better at the geography of inner London (approximately Zones 1-4 are covered). And solving a puzzle is great way to focus on some of London’s cultural and historical trivia. The suburbs have just as many jigsaw pieces as the better known central area. If it all gets a little bit tricky then there is a sheet included in the box which shows the completed map and the piece outlines. Some tips from us: First complete the puzzle edge, then try and work along the Thames, as far as you can. We also found that spotting major railway lines was useful, as these tend to be straighter than everything else in London. Motorway end signs were also surprisingly useful, as was, as noted above, a working knowledge of flags relating to London’s international hot-spots.

The Island: London Mapped jigsaw puzzle is available from Amazon and comes highly recommended – definitely one of the most enjoyable cartographic pieces we’ve reviewed. will almost certainly make you realise you know the capital a lot less than you thought you did.

Thanks to Prestel UK for sending a review copy.

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This stunning map reveals the athletic footprint of London. Strava have taken their huge volume of movement data, recorded by runners, cyclists and other data-enabled fitness peeps and created a heatmap of London (and indeed, the world).

Many people use Strava to record their cycle to work, whereas running to work is much rarer, and recreational running is much more likely so, in order to see an alternative, largely non-commuting flow map of London, we have here featured the running data. A street network is still seen, but the brightest lines are no longer the big road arteries of London – instead it is the park roads, athletics tracks, canal towpaths and the Thames footpaths. It shows a London reordered towards two feet rather than four (or two) wheels. The extract at top, centred over the London’s central area, shows four parks in each corner – Regent’s Park, Victoria Park, Greenwich Park and Battersea Park, as hotspots of activity, along with both sides of the Thames, the Regent’s Canal towpath, and Hyde Park. Two blurred areas – at Canary Wharf and the eastern part of the City of London – are likely a combination of a large number of runners and the GPS multipath-interference effect of the very tall, close together buildings in these areas.

Looking more closely at certain areas, you can start to see the thousands of individual traces in each area, along with local “obstacles”:

This obstacle, at Barnes Bridge in west London, is due to be fixed soon with a new underbridge:

We featured an earlier version of the map in 2013, back then it only include a month’s worth of data, whereas this latest map includes all the data up to September 2017 (except that marked as private, in user privacy zones or from opted out users) representing a billion plus seperate runs and cycles across the planet, and so likely well over a million in London. We also featured the Nike Plus app map which is a similar idea but with much less data. The unique thing about the latest Strava Labs heatmap is the volume of data, which, combined with some nice digital cartographical techniques, produces a comprehensive and impressively detailed map of London. The Strava blog entry details some of these techniques, which include auto-shifting routes from some mobile devices which tend to otherwise snap them to the nearest road centreline – which would not be ideal for a heatmap effect.

Strava has created a product, Strava Metro, to sell the underlying data to local councils and other bodies interested in getting good, detailed information on how pedestrians and cyclists use the existing street networks, and where they want to go, with a view to well targeted spending on new infrastructure. The Strava Labs visualisations like this, are a great way to reveal the quantity and detail of such information – a picture certainly says a thousands words here.

Map © Strava. Via Time Out.

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Tranquil Pavement is an online map recently launched by the Tranquil City project based in London, in association with the Outlandish Cooperative and funded by Organicity. It aims to highlight tranquil places to visit, if the hustle and bustle of city life gets too much, by plotting “crowdsourced “locations – referenced in an Instagram feed – as green circles, and also shows a general overlay map shade of calmness (or otherwise) across the capital. The latter is shown by a white (higher noise/pollution) to green (lower noise/pollution), gradient based on “official” data – from DEFRA and the GLA. A different shade of green, showing park footprints, is underlaid to further emphasise likely tranquil locations. The background map makes a point of naming, and so highlighting, only smaller roads, rather than larger noisy artery roads, and also showing some water features, including, unusually, underground rivers such as the River Fleet.

The overall map – tending to green in more suburban outer London, but with green highlights for specific tranquil locations more likely to be in the inner city, results in a rather pleasing to look at – although perhaps grey black would be an even better colour for pollution/noise – representing the murk of an untranquil location.

Explore the live map here, or add the #tranquilcitylondon tag to your geotagged photos of London’s peaceful places, on Instagram.

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