Archive for atlas


Posted in anthropology, maps & mapping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Humbly Submitted, Your Subway Map of Our Shared World:
world-metro-map-2005 Now is that sexy, or what?! Not your cup of tea? Não e seu praia? Don’t try and tell me I’m the only metrôsexual in the room. Well, at least there’s Mark, if I can presume which kinda maps turn him on.

Mark Ovenden is my co-pilot! Or maybe there’s just a pretty decent statistical probability that we’ve ridden on the same train at the same time. What was that? Oh, who the hell is Mark Ovenden? He wrote this book, a delicious compendium of subway maps the world over, and is credited with creating the map above. metro-maps_cover-2

Maps in the book are categorised loosely depending on the amount of both recent and historic maps available for one city’s system. All the collected maps are discussed against Mark Ovendens ideal map, the London Underground system map. Mark wants map makers to use equal distances between stations and 45 degree lines to call a map good.

A grand effort, and one I had daydreamed about compiling myself before I’d ever heard of Ovenden, yet his analysis in the metrô atlas doesn’t come out quite the way mine would. And thats not just because London is not my ideal underground.

First of all, mine would be much more ethnographic– like situating the history and ridership of the subways, who is on it, how is it used, how do the rails figure into metropolitan everyday life, who designed vs who built it, and of course of course some first person anecdotes about taking these subways.

Like, for example the São Paulo Metrô:
Ahem. A historicized slice from another blogger:

7.2.08 – By C.J. Schexnayder

The motto of the Brazilian city of São Paulo translates as “I am not led, I lead,” but on the streets of the sprawling metropolis it has become increasingly hard to get anywhere at all. The population of greater São Paulo is nearing 20 million residents, making it the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the world. The increasing population and boom in business has overloaded the city’s transportation infrastructure, making relatively short jaunts into nightmares of endurance. More than 6 million vehicles clogged the city’s streets last year, making movement through major routes and popular side streets almost impossible at peak periods.

The scope of the problem is evident on the roof of every major building: Helicopter pads have become common features of the city’s skyline. According to a recent story in the Guardian newspaper, São Paulo’s fleet of 469 helicopters is now the largest of any city in the world.

To address the situation, the government is moving on two massive infrastructure projects: upgrading the city’s public transportation system and construction of an immense highway ring around the metropolitan area.

The Metrô de São Paulo saw its ridership jump almost 9% last year to a record 919 million—an average of 3.23 million people every day. The surge in passengers began in 2005 when state government integrated the CPTM system of subway trains with the city’s bus system. Between 2004 and 2007 the number of riders increased more than 30%.

I might supplement this with my story of four wild horses. This past “summer” (winter in Brazil) I was riding the São Paulo Metrô and had just changed trains on my way to the Consolacão stop under Avenida Paulista, which is like I dunno, New York’s 34th St meets San Francisco’s Market Street. Out of nowhere these sorta frumpy adolescent kids (think mathletes)stepped onto the same train and my eyes fell instantly transfixed by this one kid’s sweater. Seriously, I’m struggling just to recall the frizzy un-kept math-hair and the cute shoe-gazer sneakers he and his friends all donned. There was no irony to the fashion discretion of these fellow riders. But focusing now on this central teen rider- right there emblazoned- nah more like- crocheted on his lusciously deep green sweater were the thick necks, the bold faces, the flowing mane of four white (outlined?) horse heads. Nestled together on his stitched chest.

Just the heads.

Fuck, I’m totally failing to convey how amazing this sweater was, but I was about dez reis shy of cajoling this kid into swapping the sweater for whatever the hell I was wearing (plus a little cash to sweeten the deal) right then and there.

Actually, the essence of the sweater kinda reminds me of the album cover for (one of my new favoritest bands), This Town Needs Guns. Only imagine it in just green and white and like a total zoom in on the heads.this town needs guns Meh, it gives the impression at least.

Anyway, I got stagefright, which is to say that my stop came up before I could work up the nerve to negotiate for the most amazing sweater I’ve ever laid my astigmatized eyes on. But if by chance you find yourself in Sao Paulo (for the love of Deus, don’t lose yourself in Sampa) and happen to spy a glorious rake harras herd of horses embroidered on some emerald pullover, by all means, hassle the wearer and acquire it and I’ll make it worth your while (half my kingdom, as the saying goes…) Believe me, the Consolacão Metrô stop gets me anxious to this very day. ::sigh::

So thats something for qualitative. Quantitatively, which is ostensibly what Ovenden is going for, I prefer the Wanda Wanders metric of Metro Map evaluation:

Anyways, I’ll probably blog more about different subway experiences in the futuro, but I hope you enjoy your time on your local undergrounds, and stop by soon, ya hear?

The World is Yours, (for about $2-$3 flat fee these days),
Sunshine Superboy

ps- if you haven’t heard about the nonsense obnoxious MTA fare hikes coming May 31st, you should (click on that orange bit) read up on the situation and enjoy the already unreasonable but relatively cheaper $2 rate while you can!

Also, as a bonus, here is a music clip from this math rock band, This Town Needs Guns of their song, 26 is Dancier than 4. I get that most of you won’t be that into it, I just felt like I should share what I’m geeking out about these days 😛


Etymological Mapping

Posted in maps & mapping with tags , , , , , , on February 7, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Hailing from New York, I would have thought that my town of origin was pretty etymologically transparent. Unlike Philadelphia, a town that many a dilettante feels compelled to translate to the common folk at every possible opportunity (yeah, we get it, its “the City of Sibling Love”), New York never seemed to be hiding much.

And then this atlas proved me oh so wrong and simple minded. Little did I know I was born in the New Wild Boar Village, went to college in the Land of the Chaste One, and that everyone in my family older than myself and my brother and younger sister was born in the Land of Springs.


or for example, this region:

Just something to stew on for the day…
Until next time…

The World is Yrs,
Sunshine Superboy