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15 Vintage Online Map Collections to Explore

You can travel far and pay no fare (aside from your internet service fee) through the wealth of online map collections. While not the same as handling a geographic tool that was intended as a tactile object, these 15 collections let you explore vintage subway maps, globes from the Enlightenment, and real and imagined worlds.

1. DAVID RUMSEY HISTORICAL MAP COLLECTION 

Arguably the best online resource for maps has long been an incredible private collection one man decided to freely share with the public. The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection concentrates on cartography between the 16th and 21st centuries. Digitizing started in 1996, and now more than 70,000 objects are online, from celestial atlases to nautical charts. In 2009, David Rumsey donated his over 150,000 maps to Stanford University, which this April opened the David Rumsey Map Center to provide physical access to the collection.

2. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

The Library of Congress began sharing digitized materials online in 1994, with numerous map collections now available to survey, with a focus on American history. Maps date back to the 17th century, with subjects such as land designated as National Parks, American railroad maps from 1828 to 1900, fire insurance maps, topographical sketches by Confederate cartographer Jedediah Hotchkiss, puzzle maps, World War II military situation maps, and late 19th to early 20th-century illustrated panoramic maps. The Library of Congress’s Worlds Revealed blog regularly highlights material in these collections, whether "mapping alpinist elephants" or examining imaginary maps from literature.

3. HARVARD MAP COLLECTION

As the oldest map collection in the United States, Harvard University holds some 400,000 maps and 6,000 atlases, many of which are online in their Virtual Collection. They include nautical charts, antiquarian maps dating back to the 16th century, and large-scale maps still used in college classrooms. Many of these are on the Harvard Geospatial Library, so you can interact with them as overlays with GPS coordinates. And if you’re in the Cambridge neighborhood before September 26, the Map Gallery Hall at Harvard's Pusey Library is hosting an exhibition on National Park maps to celebrate their conservation.

4. PERSUASIVE CARTOGRAPHY AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY 

Part of Cornell University Library's Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, the PJ Mode Collection of "persuasive" cartography comprises maps that emphasize opinion over geographic truth. Among the 310 maps online, you can find a 1904 anti-Russian map from Japan where the country is a grotesque octopus grasping countries around the world, an illustration from an 1894 issue of Puck Magazine with a Catholic cardinal's devil-shaped shadow falling across a map of the United States, and an 1855 cross-section of hell inspired by Dante's Inferno.

5. ATLAS OF THE HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE UNITED STATES AT UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND

The 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States by Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright is a titan of geography, with maps charting the centuries of change in the development of the United States. In 2013, the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond launched an online version, with over 700 maps available to explore, many animated to demonstrate their documented changes over time. Each offers some in-depth insight on history, whether the 19th-century displacement of indigenous people, the progression of women’s suffrage, or the disappearance of the forests from 1620 to 1926.

6. BODLEIAN MAP ROOM

The Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford have a stunning map room with coastal navigation maps from the 15th to 18th centuries, WWI trench maps, and thorough survey maps. For those not able to journey to the City of Dreaming Spires, their online showcase includes among its many digitizations an impressive high-resolution image of the 16th-century Sheldon tapestry map of Gloucestershire [PDF]. Zoom in close and see the delicate stitching on rivers, trees, homes, and hills emerge on the early modern textile map.

7. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 

National Geographic features many contemporary maps on a dedicated section of their website, often in conjunction with articles, covering topics such as the spread of ebola and earthquakes in Nepal. Vintage maps can also be found, like the 1889 route of the Abraham Lincoln funeral train, and incredibly specific resources like a 1960s chart of the magazine’s cartographic typefaces.

8. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY FIRE INSURANCE MAPS

The New York Public Library has a large collection of online maps on international cartography. However, one of their greatest resources is local, with most of their 9000 pages digitized from 162 atlases being fire insurance maps, many for New York City. These show the city at an intense level of detail, with its building footprints, lot dimensions, and owners. You can even help improve their digital accuracy through an online game called Building Inspector.

9. DIGITAL PUBLIC LIBRARY OF AMERICA

The Digital Public Library of America is not one collection, but an online discovery tool launched in 2013 for libraries and other institutions across the country. Among its web-only exhibitions are two related to maps, with one focused on cartography in American culture, exploring westward expansion, tourism, and the decline of the forests, along with novelties like a map of folklore music. Another highlights how the country was pulled apart during the Civil War, with a circular panoramic view of the Gettysburg Battlefield from 1866, as well as maps of fortifications at 1863 Richmond.

10. OSHER MAP LIBRARY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

The Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine recently started an initiative to digitize their 3D globes, objects which were meant to be touched, and are now too fragile. The library has around 300 globes, dating back to the 17th century. Already available for digital spinning is a gorgeous 1603 celestial globe by Willem Janszoon Blaeu covered with constellations, and a 1792 celestial globe by Giovanni Maria Cassini showing the progression of astronomical knowledge.

11. BRITISH LIBRARY 

Among the thousands of maps at the British Library is a tiny example on a 2000-year-old Roman coin, and the 16th-century first atlas of Europe by Gerardus Mercator. This collection has an overwhelming amount of geographic information for the amateur cartographer, yet the library offers many accessible highlights online, including a 17th-century terrestrial globe from China, aerial views of Dutch Baroque gardens from the 18th century, and panoramic views of London before and after the Great Fire of 1666.

12. USGS HISTORICAL TOPOGRAPHIC MAP COLLECTION

The United States Geological Survey has the absolute best geographic resource on the physical features of the American landscape, and its nearly 200,000 historical topographic maps are available to the public through the Historical Topographic Map Collection. While the TopoView offers online views, you can also purchase printed maps—valuable for preparing for a hike or building a highway. 

13. NORMAN B. LEVENTHAL MAP CENTER

The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at Boston Public Library has over 200,000 maps, with recent online initiatives including a portal for over 1500 maps from 1750 to 1800 related to the American Revolutionary War. There are hundreds of maps of local interest on 19th-century Boston, and nearly 600 bird's-eye view maps. Many go back to the 16th century, when aerial views had to be illustrated from ground-level measurements and imagination, and later in the 19th century when cartographers employed hot air balloons.

14. NYC SUBWAY

Unaffiliated with the MTA, the NYCSubway.org site exclusively offers maps of the New York City subway. They date back to the system’s formation in the 19th century, with 1880 to 1900 survey maps to prepare for tunneling, midcentury charts from when the subway was run by three companies, and maps created specifically for the 1964 World's Fair.

15. BRITISH MAGAZINE MAPS AT MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Michigan State University has among its scans of African and North American maps (which are especially rich for the Great Lakes State) an intriguing collection of 18th-century British magazine maps. The Gentleman's Magazine regularly illustrated military engagements and other current or historic events through maps. Some are religious, like a map of the Garden of Eden "before God Destroy'd it with the Flood." Others show lead mines in Cumberland in 1751, plans for settling new colonies from 1769, and layouts for aspirational American country towns from 1770, before the Revolution dashed those geographical hopes.

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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20 Random Facts About Shopping
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Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

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