History 615


“Freehand” maps…
October 6, 2010, 11:42 pm
Filed under: History 615

I’m always fascinated by the local history of my hometown.  So it’s no surprise I decided to stay close to DC with my maps for this assignment once again.

Hand drawn map –

I can’t draw.  Simple as that.  Given that fact, what made me think that I would be able to take on a birds eye view map is beyond me.  I chose this map though because…a) it fits in with my old town Alexandria, VA theme I have going on here…b) I have a framed print of this map hanging on the wall in my apartment…and c) while this map looks great hanging on a wall (at least I think so), there are no labels on it, and therefore it can only offer a limited amount of information.  So I decided to try to replicate it and add labels so the reader would have a greater idea of what they were looking at other than just “Alexandria”.  Unfortunately though, my hand drawn map didn’t turn out quite as well as I would have liked.  When I started I had this grand vision of what I was going to draw…I was going to label all the streets, pick out a few of the more landmark buildings, maybe even try to draw a ship or two.  But a few hours in I realized that that just wasn’t going to happen.  I tried to mimic the original as much as possible (which in hindsight maybe was the wrong approach).  You would never guess looking at it, but I spent a whole Saturday afternoon and evening drawing this map.  So in the end this will have to do.

Here’s the original map…

Here’s my hand drawn version…

And just for fun here’s the same view today from Google Earth with the 3D buildings layer turned on…

Illustrator Map –

For my map done in Illustrator I flipped through my copy of The Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies and decided on a map showing the Union’s First Corps, Army of Virgina’s route across Northern Virginia in the late summer of 1862, stopping to take part in the second battle of Bull Run along the way.  The map shows the First Corps main route, specific locations they stopped at and their positions on specific dates, numerous landmarks, and limited hydrographic and railway features.  What it doesn’t give you though is an overall context of where this map is situated.  It reminded me a little bit of the 1837 Ioway map we looked at a few weeks ago.  I essentially took this map and tried to make it more geographically accurate to give the reader a better sense of the distance traveled and where.  The locations are accurate per lat/long.  Yes, I used ArcMap to make my basemap and plot out the points, so I guess technically its not really completely “freehand”.  All of the actual finishing though was done in Illustrator.  I’m much more happy about the way this map turned out than my hand drawn map.  It’s not perfect, for example my map lacks railroads, and the rivers are just a shapefile downloaded from USGS (way too detailed), but I think it gets the job done.

Here’s the original…

For some reason I’m having trouble downloading the image from David Rumsey’s collection.  I’ll check back there again at some point later and see if I can get it to work and I’ll update it here then.  For the time being you can find the map in the bottom right hand corner of the plate shown here…Map of Routes and Positions.  Never mind…here it is.

And here’s my map I made in Illustrator…

Overall I think these were challenging but worthwhile assignments.  I have much more respect now for those who for centuries drew maps by hand, and I’ve gotten a little more comfortable working in Illustrator again, which I haven’t done a whole lot of the last two and half years.

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