Tagged: maps

Best sandwich from a pasta shop in a tunnel

Everybody’s the best at something, if you define the category right, but that should take nothing away from the excellence of this sandwich from DePasquale’s Homemade Pasta Shoppe in, or perhaps below, Boston’s North End.

the soda, the sandwich

Since it is really a pasta shop(pe), it’s not that surprising that DePasquale’s has only two sandwiches on the menu (unlike Dave’s Fresh Pasta where sandwiches have taken center stage) and that menu is actually a small chalkboard almost hidden by the scales.  The Panino is prosciutto, tomato, fresh mozzarella and an herby olive oil on some crusty rustic bread.  All made to order.  Add in a overdyed blood orange soda and you’ve got lunch for one and a half for less than ten bucks.  If we ever do a North End Cheese Sandwich Smackdown, this will be a contender, for sure.

In the process of checking up on DePasquale’s to provide the link above, I noticed something odd about DePasquale’s address in Google Maps and Street View.  Sure, it’s not uncommon for the Goog’ to be a block or two off with an address, especially in the older parts of town, but in this case, the 2-D online maps are stymied by a 3-D situation: the submerged I-93 runs more or less beneath the street above, and Google is a little mixed up between them.  Observe the street view on nearby Hanover…

Street view, so far so good...

…but when you try to look at Cross street or to zoom in…

Pasta shoppe in a tunnelle

So next time you’re stuck in traffic on 93 under Boston, imagine you’re driving up to a deli takeout window.

The fourth part of book club; holiday globe appeal

Last week, we took Book Club to a new level with a guest appearance by the author – Belmont’s own Toby Lester – of our chosen book, The Fourth Part of the World.  I had worried that such an august presence would impede the club’s traditional focus on wine, gossip and whingeing about our jobs, but we had plenty of time for all four parts.

Lester’s book is a vivd and polymathematical ramble across a few centuries of history leading up to the European “age of discovery” largely seen through the prism of mapmakers, especially a certain Waldseemüller, who in 1507 first printed “America” on a map of the hemisphere from which I am now writing.  We got a fresh look at some familiar figures like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus and some wonderfully-told new (to most of us) stories.  Have you heard of Prester John?

The Fourth Part of the World reminds us that Columbus was nowhere near the first to conceive of the world as round, and it tells the story of many approximations close and not so close of the actual size of the globe, and the gradual discovery by Europeans of the true arrangement of the continents and their contents.  Looking at the beautiful plates I was reminded that while today’s schoolchildren are pretty clear on the roundness of the earth, they might not be as clear on the arrangement or content of the lands upon it.

Perhaps you remember last Fall’s grumbling about non-educational globes for sale at Target?  Well, a quick scan of DonorsChoose shows over 100 classrooms in the US in need of globes and maps.  So, as if you haven’t been harangued enough on this blog to do some good in the world, I urge you to consider giving some of your holiday charity budget to one of these worthy projects – our children need the best understanding of the shape of the world and its different people that they can get.

Goog line extension

I was excited to hear that Google maps had finally added Boston’s public transit system.  Now you can get directions around Boston for driving, walking, and public transit.  Of course, the MBTA website has been providing a trip planning service for some time.  So I figured I would compare the two services recommendations.  Too lazy to do anything particularly scientific, I asked both to tell me how to get from limeduck world headquarters (a secure undisclosed location in Central Square) to Modern Pastry in the North End at 8:30pm tomorrow.  The variance is shocking.

Another kind of Green Line Extension, seen at North Station

The defending champ, the MBTA Trip planner coughed up two suggestions:

  • Red line to Orange line to Haymarket in 23 minutes
  • Red line to Green line to Haymarket in 28 minutes

This pretty conclusively reinforced my preference for the Orange line to the Green, even if it means an extra stop on the Red.

The contender, Google Maps, brought four different routes, although two of them are essentially identical.

  • Red line to Green line to Haymarket in 19 minutes
  • Red line to Downtown Crossing, then walk the rest of the way in 22 minutes (duplicated with different Red line departures)
  • Red line to Green E line (at Symphony) to Haymarket in 37 minutes

Both sets of times include the walking time on each end.  I don’t know which of these plans is more accurate.  I have to believe that the MBTA should know the schedule better, but I also believe that Google might be reporting more realistic data.  Both systems agree that the Red line departing Central at 8:33 will arrive at Park Street at 8:39, but it all goes haywire after that, with a whopping nine minute difference in estimating the same trip, with Google saying it’s quicker to hoof it than to take either of MBTA’s Green or Orange legs.

I checked, the Orange line does show up in some Google routes at different times, but it looks like it doesn’t arrive very often, which might skew things.  Google’s last suggestion is so off the wall that it makes me doubt the whole system – take the #1 bus down Mass ave past the B C & D Green line station at Hynes and the Orange line station at Mass Ave to get on the E branch of the Green line at Symphony??  Feh.

Poor Google, has Boston’s beany maze bested your mapping mojo?

Obscure objects of desire: carto-quilts, map pillows and topo-textiles

As if there’s not enough stuff to want already, I was recent tipped off by Apartment Therapy to the wonder of soft maps.  The example at hand is from Haptic Labs in Brookyn.  They make a variety of things, but it’s the quilts and pillows featuring hand-stitched maps that grabbed my attention.   This waterfront pillow gives an idea of the possibilities.

Haptic Labs soft map pillow (Brooklyn)

Of course, I can’t stop here.  I remember seeing a nice world map pillow cover on display at IKEA but couldn’t find the actual article in the bins.  It’s called Ketty Värld and it comes in three colors for $15.  The picture on the IKEA site was lousy so I found this shot at Plurielles.

I also figured Etsy would have some cool mappy stuff but was largely disappointed with the exception of this this cool pillow, Topography in Blue, in felt made from recycled plastic bottles from seller diffractionfiber.  It reminds me of a Wayne Pommnitz photo I have.  I also dig their state pillows, which you can adorn with a star on the city of your choice.

Further searches came up with this amazing patchwork quilt of Africa.  Note the hands along the top to get a sense of scale.  Those are 3″ squares.  Wow.

IKEA Ketty Värld pillow Topography in Blue by Diffraction Fiber on Etsy Africa Quilt

Some of these map textiles are more literal and some more abstracted, but all are fascinating to me because of their use of the visual language of maps.  It brought to mind the drawings of Daniel Zeller which I saw not too long ago at the DeCordova’s drawing show, and the paintings of David Palmquist, which were on view at Somerville Open Studios at the Vernon Street Studios.  Zeller’s drawings are abstract but look like maps; Palmquist’s paintings are of satellite views of the world, but are somewhat abstracted.

Much more on the fine art side than the bedspread side is the textile art of Leah Evans which is inspiring for the level of detail and work, but also for compositional beauty.  I like how the irregular shapes recall both the process of quilting and the collages of satellite pictures that create flat views of the round world.

David Palmquist Leah Evans

Along the Greenway

Yesterday was the official grand opening of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, the strip of urban parks that has replaced the elevated route 93 and changed the face of Boston.  I might quibble with the execution or the cost, but I can’t say enough good things about the whole idea of creating this green space in the most built-up part of the city.

The Greenway echoes the Emerald Necklace and provides about ten times the park area of nearby Post Office Square.  The project isn’t done – there are plans for two museums and an Armenian Heritage Park – and it’s not clear that it ever will be, but it’s done enough, and it got a pretty good crowd yesterday.

I was helping out at the Hudson Street Gallery most of the afternoon, so I wasn’t able to see the whole thing, but there were a few performance stages and at least one farmers market, outside of South Station, where I saw my old friends When Pigs Fly Bakery and Shy Brothers Cheese, among others. Closer to the gallery was the Chinatown park, where there were cultural performances all day, including lion dances, noodle-making, several kinds of martial arts, and Cantonese opera.  Click on the maplet at right – to which I’ve added the location of the Hudson Street Gallery near the bottom – for more information about the Greenway and more comprehensive maps.

Further along the Greenway, near the Aquarium, was a fountain of sorts.  It’s a spiral-patterned circle of stone and brick, with water jets that fire in patterns, creating mini-geysers in various patterns.  And inviting passers-by to tempt fate by first running through, and then, oddly, just standing still in the middle.

There’s lots more to explore in the Greenway, but I have to leave you with a final cartographic note.  The grand opening events included some kind of text-message scavenger hunt, and the map for that event included one unusual feature: the thick black line represents the approximate coastline of Boston in 1775, which is itself already much extended from the land profile at the time of European arrival.

Click on the map for more information on the game and the full-size PDF map.  And be sure to enjoy your local urban greenspace, wherever you are.

Gasp, runaway mambas! (anagram subway maps)

I write a lot for work and some for pleasure, and I enjoy a good game of Scrabble (more on the death of scrabulous another time) so I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I like a good anagram. One of my favorite sites is the Internet Anagram Server at Wordsmith.org, although I don’t always like the output.

Anyway, imagine my delight when J brought back to my attention, the Anagram Subway Map, an odd mashup genre where people take transit maps and anagram the stops. I can now add to my two favorite Boston subway map variants, a third, anagrammed, version, apparently from this site, where you can buy CafePress items featuring it.

Maybe its just luck, or a cosmic joke, or something, but it seems that the quality and in some cases the appropriateness of the anagramming is very very high on this map. There are links to several others on BoingBoing and elsewhere, I’m sure.

Gotta wonder about taking a daily commute between Carnal Request and Divas and back. I hope the good folks at Strange Maps take note of this phenomenon.

Finally, I’ll reproduce a droll bit wherein a wag anagrams the stops on New York City’s 1 train, starting, oddly enough, at my home stop of 72nd street and heading North:

Damn Tyck Trees

Cronin Park

Well, it’s July again. Definitely summer, no avoiding that anymore. Hot and sticky. Recently, I took refuge from the heat at Cronin Park.

You’ve never been to Cronin Park? I guess I’m not that surprised. It turns out that Cronin Park wasn’t even on Google maps until I added it. Brightkite doesn’t know where it is. Cambridge’s department of Public Works doesn’t list it on their parks page either. Why does Cronin Park get such short shrift?

Perhaps it’s because Cronin Park isn’t much bigger than a small house or large apartment. I count three trees in Cronin Park. There are no benches in Cronin Park, and no water fountains. You can’t let your dog run off-leash in Cronin Park. I suppose you could lie on the grass, but probably only in a long row, not side-by side. I’m pretty sure that if I set up a picnic in Cronin Park, I’d be asked to move along.

I often park next to Cronin Park, but seldom take the time to appreciate it. You can see my car in this satellite pic, not so far from where it’s really parked right this moment.

So what’s so great about Cronin Park? Honestly, not too much, but it’s there and it has a name, and James P. Cronin was somebody’s son, maybe somebody’s father too. It seems a shame that his park is a glorified traffic island. Even the meager bench or two that it could hold would transform Cronin Park into a place worthy of being mapped, a place where you might contrive to meet or hang out. And that, for my tax dollars, would be a better use of the space.

Globe Corner Blog, BUR Geotagging, Cocktails in Liminal Spaces

The Commander Globe, available at Globe Corner BookstoreAs I contemplate driving 500 miles or so this weekend – more than I’ve driven in a month so far this year, I believe – my mind meanders back to cartographic matters. A random roundup of mappy clippings:

I. The Globe Corner Bookstore has a Blog.
I’ve been an unrepentant fan of GCB for as long as I’ve known about it. One of my first luxury purchases after a period of difficult cashflow was a globe from Globe Corner. When they closed I mourned, when they reopened, I rejoiced. The Globe Corner Blog delivers book reviews, travel tips, and news on a near-daily basis. It’s not as marvelous and awesome as Strange Maps, but it’s pretty cool.

IIa. WBUR’s Charles River flickr Group
I picked up this item via the ever-alert crew at Universalhub: WBUR’s Boston Radio is doing a show on the Charles River, and set up a flickr group for people to post their river pics and geocode them. That’s my kind of thing, so I dusted off some Charles-y pics from last month and uploaded and tagged them. Listen to the podcast and check out the photo map.

I continue to wonder if there’s a way to handle geotagging for pictures that are of a line rather than a point in space.  For example, my Acela collages.  I wonder if I can rig up a useful way to take similar photos as I drive this weekend without being too much of a traffic hazard.

IIb. On Point Radio: How the States Got Their Shapes
For a double dose of WBUR, I was listening in the background as I often do, and suddenly I was hearing a caller ask about an event in the early ’90s when Connecticut Governor John Rowland made an April fools day joke of annexing the small bit of Massachusetts that pokes down into Connecticut so that Mass might then be free to slide into the sea. I was in college in Connecticut at the time and thought that was pretty funny. On Point was doing an entire show on the origins of the peculiarities of the borders of the states. Good stuff. Here’s a pic from wikipedia showing the Southwick Jog aka Granby Notch.

IV. Liminal Spaces Between Cambridge and Somerville
This weekend I was hanging out with LKB and BEM at their Cambridge lair swilling excellent margaritas, and they asked me if I had ever resolved my Somerville parking ticket. I had in fact, not yet heard from the parking authorities of Somerville, but that didn’t stop us from speculating about various kinds of installation art that might be done if we could locate a strip of land claimed by neither Cambridge nor Somerville. I’ll summarize the discussion with “Smallest. Casino. Ever.”

Rubber duckie floatilla gradually storming the world's beaches

From the excellent virtual pages of Strange Maps comes this ducky item.

On January 10 [1992], a container holding almost 29,000 plastic bath toys spills off a cargo ship into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and breaks open. The unsinkable toys, which were en route from Hong Kong to Tacoma (Washington), include a lot of iconic yellow rubber ducks that have since been caught up in the world’s ocean currents and continue turning up on the most improbable shores. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a retired oceanographer, saw from the beginning how valuable the rubber duckies could be in tracing ocean currents, and correctly predicted their trip through the Northwest Passage.

Apparently these buoyant and nearly indestructible little quackers have helped scientists track ocean currents and are showing up on beaches on several continents, and have become collectors items of a weird sort.  Here’s a link to the turgid wikipedia entry on the Friendly Floatees.  Keep your eyes peeled at the beach this summer.

He who parks by the map, pays by the map

I while ago I heard a rumor that there was a border dispute between Cambridge and Somerville. I wasn’t able to get any confirmation, so I put it out of my mind. But now it appears that I might have fallen right into it. I know what you’re thinking. This is just the sort of thing that could happen only to me. Perhaps.

As you may know, I live in Central Square, Cambridge, and work in Davis Square, Somerville. My car is registered and permitted to park in Cambridge. I don’t normally drive to work, but sometimes if I have to drive somewhere after work, it makes sense to drive there and then hop in my car directly after work. So I decided to try and optimize things by finding the point in Cambridge closest to my office in Somerville, and parking there free. It was surprisingly difficult to find an authoritative map of the border, but I eventually dug up this street cleaning zone map on the Cambridge DPW web site.  For what it’s worth, the Somerville web site had zero helpful information.

Based on this, I decided that parking on the East side of Russell street near the corner of Elm would be the optimal location, just inside the Cambridge line, but about as close to Davis square as possible. In the past, I had parked lower down Russell street where both sides are clearly Cambridge. Today I got a spot in front of 44 Russell street, a couple of houses from the corner.

Officer Soares saw it differently.

For $20 I might have sucked it up, but for $40, I decided to stand by my city’s DPW map and look into this. I visited the Cambridge police station near my home and consulted the large map on the wall. It seemed to match the street sweeping map. An officer asked me what I was doing, and I explained the situation. He picked up a phone, called some number and asked, “44 Russell street, is that us or Somerville?” and told me that it was in fact a Cambridge address. He did note that it was possible that the city line existed between the house and the curb, but could not confirm one way or the other. One could argue that the DPW map above shows that, but I assumed it was sloppy illustration.  That’s what happens when you assume, but it still sounds like reasonable doubt to me.

The back of the ticket states, “This violation may also be appealed and adjudicated by mail if supporting documentation is mailed within 21 days of issuance.” I got home and began to assemble my case. I checked a source perhaps even more respected than the police. I searched “44 Russell Street, Cambridge, MA” and got a nice map. Just to make sure, I then tried “44 Russell Street, Somerville, MA” and look what I got:

Very interesting. I think I can say with certainty that #44 is in Cambridge. Now I have to go back to the scene and double check the signs to see if there are any clues to the ownership of the street itself. So far, I haven’t been able to see any “permit parking only” signs that say Cambridge or Somerville on them.

No doubt, this story is to be continued…