Saturday, June 03, 2006

Maps: Manhattan Elsewhere

I love maps. I have a three feet-high map of the four boroughs (Staten Island often gets missed) on my cubicle wall at work that I stare at for relaxation. I love Jason Kottke's Manhattan Elsewhere project. He's continuing (or copying) something Bill Rankin did on the Radical Cartography website in 2000: using Internet maps -- Google, in Kottke's case -- to move the island of Manhattan to other cities' shores as a comparison.

As long as the scale is the same, it's fascinating to see what it would look like if, as Kottke imagines, the Lincoln Tunnel ran under Soldier Field and connected with the Dan Ryan in Chicago. He also uses Google Earth's 3-D maps -- you can see the Empire State Building across a bit of the lake from the Sears Tower.

In another map, he installs Manhattan in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Bridge -- it's fits nicely. Manhattan off of Boston Harbor looks fine, but the airport, as he notes, is way too close.

And then there's Minneapolis. Here's what he says about that map:
"This is the most unsatisfying map of the bunch. That pesky Manhattan just wouldn't fit cleanly into the Mississippi without a ton of modification, so I just made a sixth Great Lake out of the area including Northeast Minneapolis and St. Paul. Sorry, St. Paul. Also, the Twin Cities metro area is quite large for its population, which is a polite way of saying 'urban sprawl.'"
He's right, it doesn't look as good. But he didn't even try to connect 94 or 35 to FDR Drive. That would have helped. And the Lake Street Bridge could have crossed the water and connected to 97th Street, continuing nicely through Central Park. It's interesting to see how big the Minneapolis lakes are compared to Central Park and its lake, the Jackie Onassis Reservoir. In fact, Central Park and Minneapolis's often overlooked Theodore Wirth Park are about the same size.

Just think of how many more people could fit in Minneapolis. It's almost 60 square miles and has short of 400,000 people. Manhattan is about 23 square miles with 1.5 million people. But then Kottke's right about the sprawl -- Minneapolis has shrunk: in 1950 it had about a half a million people.

Jason Kottke is also known as an early blogger from Minneapolis who carried on a relationship, slightly veiled, with his now wife Meg over their respective blogs (she now blogs about food). They were profiled this week in the New Yorker.


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