Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Comparing Northwest Cities to European Cities

One of the many excellent organizations I get to work with is the Sightline Institute, based here in Seattle. They are a think tank focused on urban sustainability, social justice, and environmental health.

They ask interesting questions, and every once in awhile, they will ask me to help them answer these questions with maps. In June, I was asked by Alan Durning to make a geographic comparison between three Northwest cities and three European cities:  Seattle and Paris, Vancouver and Barcelona, and Portland and Vienna. His article, "What Would Our Cities Look Like if We Took Our Climate Change Values Seriously?" is thought provoking and makes some good points about the disconnect between the way we in Seattle talk about fighting climate change and the land use and transportation policies we actually put in place.

Making these comparisons was fun, but finding the data for five different countries was not always straightforward. I obtained data from a number of government sites, but the excellent Boundary.Now and OSMexport tools ultimately proved to be the most useful.

The maps themselves were very simple to make once I had the data--each required three layers:  the city boundary, waterbodies/rivers, and parks. Since we are comparing the size of these cities, I used the Europe Albers Equal Area Conic projection for the European cities, and the North America Albers Equal Area Conic projection for the US/Canadian cities. The city pairs are displayed at the same scales:

Portland, OR , and Vienna, Austria:  1:220,000

Seattle, WA, and Paris, France:  1:210,000

Vancouver, BC, - Barcelona:  1:125,000

I generated a set of simple maps for each city, shown with its companion below (click to embiggen):

Vancouver / Barcelona


Seattle / Paris


Portland / Vienna


I sent these files in Adobe Illustrator to the talented Devin Porter, and he worked some graphic design magic to remove smaller parks, rotate Seattle from the original projection so north is oriented up, and produce side-by-side comparisons with labels and stats:






Finally, he extracted vectors from the AI files to create these cool animated GIFs, which are featured in Alan's article:





My favorite comparison is between Seattle/Paris, not only because I live in Seattle, but also because there is such a stark difference between the number of people in each place.

Which comparison made the biggest impression on you?


Friday, July 26, 2019

An Actual Printed Map! The Mount Tahoma Trails System Map

Yesterday I received my 'cartographer's copy' of the Mount Tahoma Trails Association Trails System Map. I worked closely with Dave Stonington from MTTA to ensure the map was accurate and easy to use. Dave and his colleagues at MTTA had 2,000 copies of this map printed at Printco in Auburn, Washington (the same outfit that prints all of the maps I've worked on for Cascade Bicycle Club).

We worked through seven drafts of this map to ensure we got all of the details right. My favorite part was designing the 'info side' on the reverse of the map. Dave was very open minded and let me take a non-linear approach to presenting a whole lot of information.

Folded, front cover
Front and back cover
Map side
Info side
Detail from map side

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Conservation Northwest Sagelands Heritage Program Map

Late last year I was asked by Conservation Northwest to produce a map highlighting their work to preserve sagebrush ecosystems in north-central Washington and southern British Columbia, an effort they call the Sagelands Heritage Program.

I worked with Jay Kehne at CNW to consolidate a variety of marked up paper maps to produce a large format (34" x 44") poster showing their area of interest, movement corridors, protected lands, and other features. The map also needed to illustrate which animals inhabit shrub-steppe habitats, so we used silhouette icons and photographs to provide a more complete understanding of the landscape.

This map was a lot of fun to create, and last week it won Best Cartographic Design at the WAURISA Washington GIS Conference!

Below is a low resolution JPG of the map (a full resolution PDF of the map is available here).



The basemap was created in ArcMap, and exported to TIFF.  In Photoshop, I created a copy of the map within the study area only and placed it above the basemap. I added a drop shadow to the study area with these settings:


The animal icons were created in Illustrator, in some cases using Image Trace. Movement arrows were created in Illustrator by drawing lines with start/end 45 degree arrows and a very heavy stroke, then converting the path to outlines so the map would be visible under the arrows:


The Photoshop map was placed in InDesign, the animal and arrow Illustrator files were layered on top of the PSD, and text, photos, logos, a QR code, and other map elements were placed on the map. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Raise Your Hand Texas SB 1882 Web Map

Raise Your Hand Texas is a non-profit educational advocacy group based in Austin, Texas. We worked with RYHT to produce an interactive web map showing the potential changes to school funding under District Partnership Agreements,which enable a school district to be funded similarly to a charter school. This could result in substantially more money for schools, up to $2,300 per student.

We built this map using a custom Mapbox style and the Mapbox GL JS API. The map features a zoom-to-district functionality (in the fly-out on the left hand side), information about each district will appear in a pop-up when a district is clicked, and zooming into the map will reveal individual campuses. Hovering over the campus location will reveal the name of the school.

You can view the interactive map here, or click on the screenshot below.

https://www.raiseyourhandtexas.org/district-partnerships-map/

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Mineral Withdrawal of the Methow Headwaters

In 2015 we worked with The Wilderness Society on their Methow Headwaters campaign, focused on preventing industrial scale mining throughout the Methow Valley of north central Washington. The immediate threat and the impetus for the campaign was a proposed open-pit copper mine on Flagg Mountain that would have had significant ecological impacts on the Methow Valley.

We produced a series of maps, including some oblique three-dimensional views, to convey a sense of the location of the proposed mine, as well as a proposed withdrawal map.

As a result of the Headwaters campaign there is currently a two-year mining ban in place, and the US Forest Service has recommended a twenty year withdrawal to the Bureau of Land Management. Please consider supporting this withdrawal and the long-term protection of the Methow Valley here. The deadline for comments is Tuesday, November 13th!

The proposed area of Mineral Withdrawal

Oblique view of proposed mine and the Methow Valley
Aerial photo of Methow Valley with proposed mine location in red

Friday, October 5, 2018

Issaquah Alps Trails Club Accomplishments Map--Celebrating 40 Years of Conservation!

The Issaquah Alps Trails Club has been working to preserve open space and access to trails in the Issaquah Alps region for decades. To mark their 40th anniversary, they commissioned me to create a map showing their accomplishments. By advocating for open space protections and working with a wide range of conservation partners, the IATC has been instrumental in the creation of beloved and iconic protected lands such as Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, West Tiger Natural Resources Conservation Area, Tiger Mountain State Forest, and many others. Congratulations to the IATC!
The final map layout is ANSI E size, 34" x 44" (click to embiggen)
One of my favorite maps is the inset comparing the landscape as it looks today (top) with how it might look if the IATC and their partners had not worked so hard to conserve open space and trails. What a difference!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Mapping Seattle Population Density

The City of Seattle has grown tremendously over the past thirty years, and has added 114,000 residents just since 2010 (an increase of nearly 20%). This rapid population growth has resulted in a corresponding rapid increase in the cost of housing and the proliferation of construction projects to try to meet the demand. However, as a result of Seattle's zoning policies and Urban Villages strategy, this population growth (and the resulting changes to neighborhoods) has not been evenly distributed throughout the City.

We were asked by CAST Architects to model population density within the City of Seattle at three different time periods to get a better handle on where these changes are occurring. We mapped population density at the block level using US Census data for 1990  and 2010 and projected population in 2035 (taken from the City's Housing Affordability and Livability Mandatory Housing Affordability DEIS Alt 1).

Block groups are colored by density and displayed in three oblique views with the observer positioned southwest of the city, looking north/northeast. The maps show that the vast majority of the City's population growth has occurred in just a handful of neighborhoods--just 7% of the City's land area has absorbed 77% of all the growth!

Matt Hutchins at CAST continues to be a tireless advocate for increasing the construction of Detached Accessory Dwelling Units throughout the City, and used these maps in his presentation to YimbyTown to make the case that Seattle should expand housing options throughout the entire City, not just in the designated Urban Villages. 
Population density by block in 1990
Population density by block in 2010
Projected population density by block in 2035