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Pictorial maps

Pictorial maps

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Pictorial maps are a category of maps
Maps is the plural of map, a visual representation of an area.As an acronym, MAPS may refer to:* Mail Abuse Prevention System, an organisation that provides anti-spam support...

 that are also loosely called illustrated maps, panoramic maps, perspective maps, bird’s-eye view maps and Geopictorial maps amongst others. In contrast to the regular road map, Atlas or topographic cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

, pictorial maps depict a given territory with a more artistic rather than technical style. The cartography can be a sophisticated 3-D perspective landscape or a simple map graphic enlivened with illustrations of buildings, people and animals. They can feature all sorts of varied topics like historical events, legendary figures or local agricultural products and cover anything from an entire continent to a college campus. Drawn by specialized artists and illustrators, pictorial maps are a rich, centuries-old tradition and a diverse art form that ranges from cartoon maps on restaurant placemats to treasured art prints in museums.

Pictorial maps usually show an area as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. They are not generally drawn to scale in order to show street patterns, individual buildings, and major landscape features in perspective. While regular maps focus on the accurate rendition of distances, pictorial maps enhance landmarks and often incorporate a complex interplay of different scales into one image in order to give the viewer a more familiar sense of recognition. With an emphasis on objects and style, these maps cover an artistic spectrum from childlike caricature to spectacular landscape graphic with the better ones being attractive, informative and highly accurate. Some require thousands of hours to produce.

The history and tradition of pictorial maps

Will Durant
Will Durant
William James Durant was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant and published between 1935 and 1975...

 said that maps show us the face of History. This is especially true of pictorial maps because their vocation has always been to present a visual message. Throughout the ages, pictorial maps have been used to show the cuisine of a country, the industries of a city, the attractions of a tourist town, the history of a region or its holy shrines.
The history of pictorial maps overlaps much with the history of cartography
History of cartography
Cartography , or mapmaking, has been an integral part of the human story for a long time, possibly up to 8,000 years...

 in general and ancient artifacts suggest that pictorial mapping has been around since recorded history began.

In Medieval cartography, pictorial icons as well as religious and historical ideas usually overshadowed accurate geographic proportions. A classic example of this is the T and O map
T and O map
A T and O map or O-T or T-O map , is a type of medieval world map, sometimes also called a Beatine map or a Beatus map because one of the earliest known representations of this sort is attributed to Beatus of Liébana, an 8th-century Spanish monk...

 which represented the three known continents in the form of a cross with Jerusalem at its center. The more precise art of illustrating detailed bird’s-eye-view urban landscapes flourished during the European Renaissance. As emerging trade centers such as Venice began to prosper, local rulers commissioned artists to develop pictorial overviews of their towns to help them organize trade fairs and direct the increasing flow of visiting merchants. When printing came around, pictorial maps evolved into some of the earliest forms of advertising as cities competed amongst themselves to attract larger shares of the known world’s commerce.
Later, during the Age of Exploration, maps became progressively more accurate for navigation needs and were often sprinkled with sketches and drawings such as sailing ships showing the direction of trade winds, little trees and mounds to represent forests and mountains and of course, plenty of sea creatures and exotic natives much of them imaginary. As the need for geographical accuracy increased, these illustrations gradually slipped off the map and onto the borders and eventually disappeared altogether in the wake of modern scientific cartography.

The 19th Century

As cartography evolved, the pictorial art form went its own way and regained popularity in the 19th century with the development of the railroads. Between 1825 and 1875, the production and collection of panoramic maps of cities rose to something of a mania. In the U.S. alone, thousands of panoramic maps were produced. The leading panoramic map artists in the U.S.A. were Herman Brosius, Camille N. Drie, Thadeus Mortimer Fowler, Paul Giraud, Augustus Koch, D. D. Morse, Henry Welge, and A. L. Westyard . Somewhat like the websites of their time, every town had to have one to remain competitive in attracting industry and the immigrant trade. Sometimes artistic exaggeration bordered on the fraudulent as some travelers were drawn by images of idyllic, bustling towns with humming factories only to find a sad little bunch of mud-soaked shacks when they got there. A vast collection of these prints is maintained by the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 and many of the more beautiful ones continue to be reprinted and sold to this day .

The 20th Century

With the growth of tourism, pictorial mapmaking reappeared as a popular culture art form in the 1920s through the 1950s, often with a whimsical Art Deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 style that reflects the period.

Another resurgence occurred in the 1970s and 80s. This was the heyday of companies like Archar and Descartes who produced hundreds of colorful promotional maps of mainly American and Canadian cities. Local businesses were flatteringly drawn on these 'Character maps' with their logos proudly embedded on their buildings. Looking at these maps and who sponsored them over the years, one can clearly see the changing face of industry as the dominant illustrations of manufacturing plants gave way to those of business parks and logos of the service and high tech economy.
Today, like in all other forms of media, the digital revolution has changed the way pictorial maps are researched and executed. But like good writing, a good pictorial map is always a result of intricate labor, esthetic choices and creative editing rather than technology. In the era when Google Earth can give us fly-over access to nearly any spot on the globe, it is amazing to realize that many of the beautiful prints of yore were executed before there were airplanes or even cameras.
Whether drawn with quill, pen or pixels, pictorial maps are always scaled in the perspective of the imagination.

Pictorial Map-makers up to modern times

Ironically, despite all the changes that they record, very little has changed in the business of creating pictorial maps over the centuries. Showing off a given town, attracting visitors and stirring up local pride is what they have always been about. Most of these maps were and continue to be created by a handful of itinerant specialists who keep up the tradition. Many of them traveled from city to city enlisting the support of local merchants, industrialists and civic organizations whose endorsement would of course guarantee a prominent place for their properties on the map.
Edwin Whitefield
Edwin Whitefield
Edwin Whitefield was a landscape artist who is best known for his lithographed views of North American cities and for a number of illustrated books on colonial homes in New England. See: pictorial maps...

 for instance, one of the more prolific 19th century American pictorial map artists, would require about 200 subscribers before he put pen to paper. Once he secured the profitability of the venture, Whitefield would be seen all over town furiously sketching every building. Then, choosing an imaginary aerial vantage point, he would integrate all his sketches into a complete and detailed drawing of the city. Then after that, say the chroniclers of the time, Whitefield would once again be seen furiously darting all over town to collect from all his sponsors.
Says Jean-Louis Rheault, a contemporary pictorial map illustrator: 'Pictorial maps - with their emphasis on what's important and eye-catching - make it easier to figure out what's where.'.

See also

  • Aerial photography
    Aerial photography
    Aerial photography is the taking of photographs of the ground from an elevated position. The term usually refers to images in which the camera is not supported by a ground-based structure. Cameras may be hand held or mounted, and photographs may be taken by a photographer, triggered remotely or...

  • Animated mapping
    Animated mapping
    Animated mapping is the application of animation, either computer or video, to add a temporal component to a map displaying change in some dimension. Most commonly the change is shown over time, generally at a greatly changed scale...

  • British Cartographic Society
    British Cartographic Society
    The British Cartographic Society is an association of individuals and organisations dedicated to exploring and developing the world of maps. It is a registered charity...

  • Cartogram
    A cartogram is a map in which some thematic mapping variable – such as travel time or Gross National Product – is substituted for land area or distance. The geometry or space of the map is distorted in order to convey the information of this alternate variable...

  • Cartographic relief depiction
    Cartographic relief depiction
    Terrain or relief is an essential aspect of physical geography, and as such its portrayal presents a central problem in cartography, and more recently GIS and 3D Visualization....

  • Cartographic generalization
    Cartographic generalization
    Cartographic generalization is the method whereby information is selected and represented on a map in a way that adapts to the scale of the display medium of the map, not necessarily preserving all intricate geographical or other cartographic details...

  • Contour line
    Contour line
    A contour line of a function of two variables is a curve along which the function has a constant value. In cartography, a contour line joins points of equal elevation above a given level, such as mean sea level...

  • Critical cartography
    Critical cartography
    Critical Cartography is a set of new mapping practices and theoretical critique grounded in critical theory. It differs from academic cartography in that it links geographic knowledge with power, and thus is political...

  • Digital Cadastral DataBase
    Digital Cadastral DataBase
    Digital Cadastral DataBase is a computerised map or 'spatial' location showing property boundaries normally in relation to adjoining and other close properties or parcels of land. Commonly used as a basic layer of data used in map based computer programs that gives an outline of the legal...

  • Fantasy map
    Fantasy map
    A fantasy map is type of map design that is a visual representation of an imaginary or fictional geography. While some fantasy maps accompany works of fiction and are considered fictional maps, fantasy maps are created to show imaginary places and are not necessarily included in works of literary...

  • Figure-ground in map design
    Figure-ground in map design
    An effectively designed map is one in which the intended message is clearly communicated to the map user. By employing the concept of figure-ground, a viewer can easily distinguish between the main figure on a map and the background information...

  • Four color theorem
    Four color theorem
    In mathematics, the four color theorem, or the four color map theorem states that, given any separation of a plane into contiguous regions, producing a figure called a map, no more than four colors are required to color the regions of the map so that no two adjacent regions have the same color...

  • Gazetteer
    A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory, an important reference for information about places and place names , used in conjunction with a map or a full atlas. It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup of a country, region, or continent as well as the social...

  • Geocode
    GEOCODE is a standardized all-natural number representation format specification for geospatial coordinate measurements that provide details of the exact location of geospatial point at, below, or above the surface of the earth at a specified moment of time.Geocode is patented under US Patents...

  • Geographic Information System
    Geographic Information System
    A geographic information system, geographical information science, or geospatial information studies is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographically referenced data...

  • Geovisualization
    Geovisualization, short for Geographic Visualization, refers to a set of tools and techniques supporting geospatial data analysis through the use of interactive visualization....

  • Here be dragons
    Here be dragons
    "Here be dragons" is a phrase used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the medieval practice of putting sea serpents and other mythological creatures in uncharted areas of maps.-History:...

  • Isostasy
    Isostasy is a term used in geology to refer to the state of gravitational equilibrium between the earth's lithosphere and asthenosphere such that the tectonic plates "float" at an elevation which depends on their thickness and density. This concept is invoked to explain how different topographic...

  • Japanese map symbols
    Japanese map symbols
    This is a list of symbols appearing on Japanese maps. These symbols are called in the Japanese language.symbolmeaningillustrationsymbolmeaningillustrationMunicipal building Municipal building...

  • List of cartographers

  • Locator map
    Locator map
    A locator map, sometimes referred to simply as a locator, is typically a simple map used in cartography to show the location of a particular geographic area within its larger and presumably more familiar context...

  • Map projection
    Map projection
    A map projection is any method of representing the surface of a sphere or other three-dimensional body on a plane. Map projections are necessary for creating maps. All map projections distort the surface in some fashion...

  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
    National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
    The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing and distributing geospatial intelligence in support of national security. NGA was formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency ...

  • OpenStreetMap
    OpenStreetMap is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Two major driving forces behind the establishment and growth of OSM have been restrictions on use or availability of map information across much of the world and the advent of inexpensive portable GPS devices.The...

    , a free project mapping the world's roads using GPS
    Global Positioning System
    The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

  • Orthophoto
    An orthophoto, orthophotograph or orthoimage is an aerial photograph geometrically corrected such that the scale is uniform: the photo has the same lack of distortion as a map...

  • Pictorial maps
  • Planetary cartography
    Planetary cartography
    Planetary Cartography includes all cartographic materials produced for objects with solid surfaces external to the Earth. This can include any spatially mapped characteristic for extraterrestrial surfaces. Also can be referred to as the Cartography of Extraterrestrial Objects...

  • Point of Beginning
    Point of Beginning
    The point of beginning is a surveyor's mark at the beginning location for the wide-scale surveying of land.An example is the Beginning Point of the U.S. Public Land Survey that led to the opening of the Northwest Territory, and is the starting point of the surveys of almost all other lands to the...

  • Sea level
    Sea level
    Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

  • Terra incognita
    Terra incognita
    Terra incognita or terra ignota is a term used in cartography for regions that have not been mapped or documented. The expression is believed to be first seen in Ptolemy’s Geography circa 150 CE...

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