Now that the Internet can provide driving directions to pretty much everywhere on earth, honest-to-goodness traditional maps feel like quaint artifacts. But the Website Strange Maps recalls the thrill of exploring distant places from the comfort of your armchair. With its collection of ancient maps (such as the first Turkish map of the world), maps of obscure places (a forgotten Nordic colony in Canada), statistical maps (the distribution of singles in the U.S.), and purely whimsical ones (the Tory Atlas of the World), Strange Maps combines the allure of the unfamiliar and fantastic with the orderliness of a cartographer’s archives.
The site’s historical curiosities are cool (see the wildly inaccurate 14th-century vision of the North Pole), but some of the more offbeat concoctions are revelations: Check out the map-as-socioeconomic-global-critique in which U.S. states are renamed for countries with similar GDPs (California, for instance, becomes France) and Lewis Carroll’s 19th-century Ocean Chart, an absurdist map of the ocean’s surface. (In other words, it’s completely blank.)
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