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Design

3,200 Historic Maps Of Battles And Cities Were Placed On Top Of Google Earth

The British Library has georeferenced a large collection of 19th century maps, creating meta-maps that juxtapose the past and present.

by Zach Sokol
Aug 27 2014, 7:00pm

The British Library recently released an interactive mapping program where the globe is overlain with 3,220 "maps [from] within 19th-century books." In other words, the project georeferences historic maps of cities, battles, and even antiquated data visualizations with Google Street View and Earth, "enhancing the ability to view and compare the past with the present and improving findability," as explained in the project description.

Titled BL Georeferencer, the meta-mapping experience allows viewers to roam through 3D geography while also looking at hand-drawn illustrations of the same terrain, offering a greater understanding of historical landscapes and events. The project is not just an enlightening look on how cartography has changed over the years, but also a chance to prevent historical data visualizations from becoming mere relicas through direct cultural comparison.

We hope the next step is to turn the 19th century illustrations into explorable virtual spaces—a Cobble Stone Street View, if you will. Take a look at some georeferenced maps, and head over to the project page to explore for yourself.

Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate officers, based upon “the Century War Series.” via

Old & New London. By W. Thornbury and Edward Walford. Illustrated via

Japan: its history, traditions, and religions (1879) via

History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the final restoration of Home Rule at the South in 1877

h/t io9

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