Seeking examples of beautiful maps?
Oftentimes when we make maps it is based on our subjective interpretation of what is aesthetically pleasing. I would like it if people posted examples of beautiful maps, displaying any phenomena in any manner.
Below I have posted one of my favorite maps. This is an example of a value-by-alpha map recently asked about as How to implement value-by-alpha map in GIS?, and the picture is taken from the GeoVista website.
Citation for the map's makers:
Geovisual analytics to enhance spatial scan statistic interpretation: an analysis of U.S. cervical cancer mortality Jin Chen , Robert E Roth , Adam T Naito , Eugene J Lengerich and Alan M MacEachren International Journal of Health Geographics 2008, 7:57
It would be best for the cultivation of knowledge if people would elaborate on why the particular maps they cite are beautiful.
The reason I believe I think the cited value-by-alpha map is beautiful is that it creates a very simple, but obvious and striking visual hierarchy with which to interpret the standardized mortality ratio's. This is in particular useful combined with the very "noisy" standardized mortality ratio's, and the typically very noisy clusters of abnormally high rates produced by the SatScan clustering technique. One can even clearly see very small clusters around Chicago and Philadelphia.
There are other supplemental elements of the map that make it easy on the eyes. For example, the black background, the heavier white outline for around the states and the white outline for the states (that is blended the same as the attribute values). Maps with many polygons can particularly be distracting if one does not take care when plotting the polygon outlines.
Also the legend is particularly well created, and effectively demonstrates the concept (although it certainly isn't a typical legend, so took some original creative thought).
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RADICAL CARTOGRAPHY showcases couple of really nice examples.
My two favourites:
- Mississippi meanders
- Statistical Atlas of 1870 US Census
Eduard Imhof's work, especially his hand-drawn hillshading maps:
As the question does not specify that a map has to be a traditional static map, I would like to propose the Mapnificent London travel times map.
As per usualy, Google are really pushing what you can do with Online Mapping APIs. In terms of map design, the v3 API now gives you greater control over tweaking the underlying base map.
The map is also very user-friendly, but I think usability probably falls outside the realm of beauty.
A couple examples of beautiful flow maps
An article in the open journal PLoS, Redrawing the Map of Great Britain from a Network of Human Interactions by: Carlo Ratti, Stanislav Sobolevsky, Francesco Calabrese, Clio Andris, Jonathan Reades, Mauro Martino, Rob Claxton, Steven H. Strogatz PLoS ONE, Vol. 5, No. 12. (8 December 2010)
As to the reasoning why I believe these maps are beautiful, flow maps can easily become very complicated. The mess of in-flows and out-flows tend to be difficult to visualize and summarize effectively (see this other answer of mine where I go into greater detail about how visualizing flow lines is typically done).
These two flow maps exemplify effectively visualizing such flow information in a concise manner. The PLoS article is a very nice example of utilizing a 3d perspective (which I have never been able to make anything in 3d that looks very nice!).
Sometimes knowing what goes into the creation of some work also gives you a greater appreciation for it. Reading the blog post about the creation of the facebook map is a wonderful exposition of the types of difficult data management skills necessary to handle, and make sense of, such a massive set of data.
Although each of the maps have their critics, the PLoS article has been critisized as being trivial by Andrew Gelman, and Laurent in the comments posted a series of blog posts by Th. Joliveau, I believe each is still a beautiful (and very effective) map visualization of flows between two locations.
U.S. National Park Service Maps (from Getting Real: Reflecting on the New Look of National Park Service Maps):
Here is a good one: The Atlas of Canada Map of the North Circumpolar Region http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/dataservices/wall_maps/MCR1-2.jpg/image_view Also interesting is the Cartographica journal article describing the work involved in putting this map together: http://utpjournals.metapress.com/content/d80604507k247v46/
My favourite maps are John Ogilby strip maps of routes within Britain.
The originals are from 1675, though there was also an official reprint around 1700 I think.
I have this one (the road from Hereford to Leicester) hanging in my office. I'd love to get a full atlas, but the cost would be rather more than I can afford!
Truly beautiful, not to mention ground-breaking stuff.