Section of Ptolemy Map

Section from Ptolemy’s
World map

From the petroglyphs of ancient societies to the stunning views of our planet from space, humans have endeavored to visualize and accurately map our world. As early geographers recorded the experiences from travelers and merchants, they created lists of places and geographic features. To spatially represent these data, geographers mapped the distances between features from the perspective of the traveler. Maps have aided navigation, settled disputes, and illustrated the extent of an Empire’s power. Beyond these and other utilitarian uses for maps, the desire to discover what was beyond the edges of the map–to venture into the unknown–brought about an Age of Exploration that continues into the 21st century with space exploration. [more]

Then & Now: Journey with us into the cartographic past


Landsat 8 image of Great Salt Lake 2013
Mar 12, 2014 Great Salt Lake, 1859

With imagination one can explore and understand how very different life was for people in the United States before the Golden Spike was hammered into the ground in Utah in 1869. That was a much-hailed event that knitted the country together by [...]

Spanish Armada feature image
Feb 5, 2014 Winds of Change: Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 1588.

Expeditionis Hispanorum in Angliam, Plate 1 by Robert Adams The series of battles that unfolds with these seven maps is considered one of the most important campaigns in naval history; a campaign that ended with the defeat of the powerful [...]

Medieval Map of the known world 1450 and the Blue Marble comparison image
Jan 17, 2014 Fra Mauro’s Mappamundi

Long before the famous Earthrise photo taken by Apollo astronauts, creating an image or map of the entire known world was a singular human endeavor. Imagine a half a millennium earlier when only those who had traveled could describe distant [...]

Landsat 8 and 1894 map dissolve image of San Francisco Bay area
Dec 23, 2013 Northern San Francisco Bay, 1894

Maps often convey our relationship to the world. In this map of the northern San Francisco Bay and surrounding environs, the early development of the region is recorded in detail. The full and arduous title of this map is “Map showing portions [...]

Map of Sicily from 1791 by William Heather
Dec 6, 2013 Sicily, from W. Heather & Co.’s A New Chart of the Mediterranean Sea, 1797.

Maps often help us manage our world. In 1797, when cartographic engraver and chart publisher William Heatheri released his New Chart of the Mediterranean Sea, he had the needs of sea merchants foremost in mind. Information essential to seafarers [...]