Daniel Huffman/Something About Maps

Daniel Huffman unfurls the Great Lake’s massive shoreline to map how people relate to it.

When I visit Lake Michigan, I feel staggering incredulity: How is this not an ocean? Driving between cities around its 1,400 miles of shoreline—say, from Chicago to Grand Rapids—emphasizes the lake’s vast scroll, since the only way to go is around. A new map captures that experience.

Madison-based cartographer Daniel Huffman—a longtime favorite at CityLab—has unfurled the coastline of Lake Michigan to make a “linear map”.

Among other tricky issues, this type of mapping required tons of math to achieve accuracy in terms of scale and relative distance. The effect is striking.

“A drive around the lake becomes a reasonably straight line,” Huffman writes. “Not only that, but the map is actually continuous—the roads running off the bottom of the map are the same as those coming in at the top.”

Linear Lake Michigan is also provocative from a psycho-geographical standpoint. It’s really a map of how people arrange themselves along the lake, and how people relate to it as a more of a lengthy shore than a discrete water body.

“I wanted to show space referenced against a natural feature, rather than figuring locations based on the cardinal directions of north/south/etc.,” Huffman writes. “I think it’s a very human perspective[.]”

The map is below; prepare for a fascinating and seemingly endless scroll. (The brown splotches mark population density.) For more on Huffman’s process and inspiration, read Huffman’s post on the project at Something About Maps.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    How Australia Conquered Guns, and Why America Can't

    Gun control advocates point to Australia for inspiration in ending gun violence. The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, thinks they should stop.

  2. Equity

    How Structural Racism is Linked to Higher Rates of Police Violence

    It's not just implicit racial bias. According to a new study, state policies are also a determinant factor in police shootings that disproportionately target African Americans.

  3. Transportation

    How Seattle Is Winning the War on the Car Commute

    Despite massive job growth, just 25 percent of workers drove themselves in 2017.

  4. A sign supporting President Trump in front of a house in Crown City, Ohio
    Life

    The Geography of Trump's First-Year Job Approval

    The president’s approval rating stands at a record low, but the geography of opinion reflects pre-existing cultural, educational, and economic divides.

  5. Amazon HQ2

    The Quiet Rise of the Downtown Tech Campus

    While the world focuses on the battle for Amazon HQ2, the other tech giants are consolidating their own urban fiefdoms.