Scribner's statistical atlas of the United States showing by graphic methods their present condition and their political, social and industrial development. By Fletcher W. Hewes and Henry Gannett, Chief Geographer of the United States Geological Survey. Formerly Geographer of the tenth census of the United States.
Go ahead and lose a day over at David Rumsey's site, where he provides scanned versions of every page of this and other books.
This cover, that I wish I could touch.
Stuffed with pages like this, that I wish I could smell.
Anyway, since so many of the pages showed categorical information in sequence, I couldn't resist slapping them into some clunky animated GIFs.
slave-holding domain of cotton plantations, was still the overwhelming agricultural zone of the nation. The fertile plains of the Midwest had yet to be fully tilled under into the corn belt and bread basket of a hemisphere. As the railroads expanded west, zipping crops and livestock east became more logistically feasible.
fleeing famine when the mono-culture of the potato collapsed, among other things.
Anyway, it is works like this that make me feel a combination of exhilaration and and anxiety. On one hand, it is an inspiring example of thoughtful and artistic work by a team that is not just at the top of their craft, but wielding an expertise that makes cartographers 130 years into the future envious. On the other hand, I am taken aback at the herculean feat of data wrangling at a time when these locations were distant and dangerous and remote by weeks. I don't hold a strong confidence that I would be able to replicate their work in its own right even with the massive technological and communications advantages that I enjoy. But, of course, it's not about the tools but rather the care taken in communicating a story. Ironically, I look at visual performances like this and suspect that it is in part precisely because our ability now to churn out products so quickly and effortlessly that the results often do not compare to those that required an inordinately greater investment and therefore commanded a sense of magnitude in the proceeding that has few analogs today. But I recognize the debate between quantity and quality is largely a false one, as there are data artists today who are no less thoughtful in their approach. And while the overall volume of visual work has exploded, I see this as evidence of a broad pool of new and interested participants who have every opportunity to improve and thrive.
Though as for this, I say well done, Fletcher, Hewes, Gannett, and team. You are still wowing, generations out.