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6 Cool, Chocolate-Scented, or Otherwise Interesting Maps of Chicago

Sure, maps can tell us how to get where we’re going and where we are now, and that’s great. But maps can also be much more than highways and intersections—they can surprise and intrigue, anger and educate. Maps can show not only the ins and outs of a place, but of their people as well. And if you think you completely know a city, you might be looking at the wrong map. Here are a few maps that might make you look at Chicago a little differently.

1. The Daily Chicago Chocolate Smell Map

Sometimes, the Windy City’s wind smells like chocolate. This is thanks to the Blommer Chocolate factory—which has been operating in downtown Chicago since 1939—blessing the air with a glorious smell that’s somewhere between hot cocoa and slightly burnt brownies. With the Daily Chicago Chocolate Smell map, you can get day-to-day updates on the spread of the aroma based on the surrounding weather patterns and Smell Reports from committed citizens. 

2. An Interactive Before-and-After

About 143 Octobers ago, the Great Chicago Fire ended its two-day siege on the city, leaving in its wake at least 300 dead, 100,000 homeless, and several million dollars worth of property destroyed. All in all, the fire leveled about 3.3 square miles of Chicago, leaving an unforgettable mark on the city both in the resilience of its citizens and the planning and reorganizing of the new metropolis that would spring from the ashes. To truly understand how the Great Fire—and subsequent rebuilding—shaped the Chicago we know today, one only has to look at this cool interactive map, courtesy of the Smithsonian. 

3. A Cautionary, Cartoonish Gangland Map

“A Map of Chicago's gangland from authentic sources: designed to inculcate the most important principles of piety and virtue in young persons, and graphically portray the evils and sin of large cities, 1931.” Though ostensibly a stern lesson to keep kids out of dangerous ‘hoods in mobster-era Chicago, this restored 1930’s map gives a hilariously detailed look at the gangland, including such tidbits as “Death Corner,” just off the North Branch of the Chicago river and situated, ominously, between Little Italy, Little Sicily, and famed Irish boss Dion O’Banion’s “district.” Other points of interest: On the South Side, a little cartoon citadel of the University of Chicago near the lake, where a top-hatted man exclaims “My my, this won’t do—the water’s wet!” just northeast of a “Filling Station (Not Gas).”

4. The Pothole Time-Lapse

Winters in the Windy City are harsh, and every year its streets take a beating, leaving Chicago with a rash of potholes that the city can barely keep up with. To illustrate the sheer scope of Chicago’s pothole problem, a user on the data-mapping site Cartodb created this time-lapse of all of Chicago’s reported potholes (the yellow dots) over the past year. It may seem mundane, but when you see the way the city essentially becomes one giant pothole in February, you’ll understand the true toll of a Chicago winter.

5. Cubsland and Soxland

Chicago’s baseball culture is a fascinating one, wherein the many legends, scandals, and marketing disasters between the city’s two professional teams might just outnumber winning seasons. But in order to delve into the vast mythology surrounding Chicago baseball, you must first get a grasp on the Midwest’s quintessential crosstown rivalry, that of the north side Cubs and south side White Sox. Though they compete in two different leagues, the fans are fierce and teams divisive. So if you’re worried you might be in enemy territory, this map will be useful. It roughly outlines the reign of each team’s fan base: White Sox supporters are typically born and bred within the city limits, heavily on the southern side, while Cubs fans generally reside in the northern suburbs and surrounding Illinois and Indiana. If you zoom out, you can also get a look at the fan territories for teams across the country. 

6. Neighborhood Name-calling

It’s often said that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods—over 200 of them, all with a unique flavor, feel, and personality. Often, these quirks turn into stereotypes which are then hurled between neighborhoods like bickering siblings. That’s exactly what’s illustrated in this playful map by Justin Kaufman for Time Out Chicago: Uptown says to college bar-heavy Lakeview “Go back to Purdue”; Albany Park calls the gentrified Lincoln Square “Sellouts,” while Lincoln Square shoots back, “You’re just jealous.” The suburbs, in keeping with the family dynamic, are completely ignored.

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technology
Google Maps Is Getting a Makeover With More Icons and Colors
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iStock

Prepare to get used to some big changes to your Google Maps app. The tech giant announced in a blog post that it’s changing the tool’s design to better highlight information that’s relevant to your journey.

The first update can be seen when switching between modes of transportation. If you’re driving from your home to work, for example, Maps will show you gas stations along your route, but switch to public transit and train stations will pop up instead.

The app’s color scheme has also been given a makeover. All points of interest (POI) that appear on the map are now color-coded. Looking for the nearest restaurant? Food and drink POI are orange. Need some retail therapy? Shopping icons are blue. Hospitals (pink), churches (gray), outdoor spaces (green), and more are included in the new system.

Within the larger categories, Google has introduced dozens of specialized icons to indicate subcategories. Banks are marked with a dollar sign, cafes with a coffee cup, etc.

“The world is an ever-evolving place,” Google Maps product manager Liz Hunt wrote in the blog post. “Now, we’re updating Google Maps with a new look that better reflects your world, right now.”

This overhaul is the latest way Google Maps is evolving to make life more convenient for its users. In the past year, the app has rolled out features that allow you to locate your parked car and to check how crowded attractions are at certain times. The new design changes will start appearing over the next few weeks.

Phones with maps app open.
Google

Color key for Google Maps.
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Icons for Google Maps.
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Courtesy of Sotheby's
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History
Found: A Rare Map of Australia, Created During the 17th Century
Courtesy of Sotheby's
Courtesy of Sotheby's

More than 40 years before Captain James Cook landed on Australia’s eastern coast in 1770, renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu created an early map of the Land Down Under. Using geographical information gleaned from Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in the 1640s, it was the first map to include the island state of Tasmania and name New Zealand, and the only one to call Australia “Nova Hollandia.”

Very few copies—if any—of the 1659 map, titled Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), were thought to have survived. But in 2010, a printing was discovered in a Swedish attic. After being restored, the artifact is newly on display at the National Library of Australia, in the capital city of Canberra, according to news.com.au.

The seller’s identity has been kept under wraps, but it’s thought that the map belonged to an antiquarian bookseller who closed his or her business in the 1950s. For decades, the map sat amidst other papers and books until it was unearthed in 2010 and put up for auction.

The National Library acquired the 17th century wall map in 2013 for approximately $460,000. After a lengthy restoration process, it recently went on display in its Treasures Gallery, where it will hang until mid-2018.

As for other surviving copies of the map: a second version was discovered in a private Italian home and announced in May 2017, according to Australian Geographic. It ended up selling for more than $320,000.

[h/t news.com.au]

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