Maps and Mappers of the 2022 Calendar: Dan Fourquet, April

Dan Fourquet's unique map of Richmond, Virginia

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I’ve loved maps for my entire life and have been drawing and making maps since my childhood. Currently I live in Richmond, VA. I work for the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment where I do my best to make a positive contribution to Virginia’s transportation plan (VTrans) using my background in GIS and data management.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map

A: In 1864, as the American Civil War was entering its final months and the Union army was closing in on Petersburg and Richmond, the US Coast Survey Office produced a map of Richmond, Virginia, presumably commissioned in support of the Union Army’s ongoing siege, showing the streets and major landmarks of the city. One hundred fifty years later in 2014, the US Geological Survey mapped the same area using lidar to evaluate the damage from Hurricane Sandy. My map combines these two datasets allowing you to see how the city has physically evolved over the past century and a half.

You can easily see how much has remained the same over the years in the basic layout of the streets. The fact that the 19th century map is able to be georeferenced so accurately to the lidar data is a testament to the skill of the surveyors who created the original map. Mayo’s Bridge, the oldest in the city, is clearly visible in both datasets even though it’s been rebuilt a couple times in the interim. Some of the buildings that survived the war are visible in the lidar dataset (in fact I used the Capitol building and the Masonic Hall as control points while georeferencing the 19th century map). The ruins of the Petersburg railrod bridge are clearly visible as periodic squares in the lidar data next to the line in the 19th century map. The most notable change is the removal of the canal system and the additional bridges that were built in the 20th century, as well as the Interstates and the Downtown Expressway that carve their way through the city.

Not as easily seen in the map is the cultural change the city has seen over the course of a century and a half. Before the Civil War, Richmond had the second largest slave market in North America. The St Charles Hotel in the eastern side of the map was known for hosting auctions in the basement. By 2014 there was a growing movement to recognize the city’s dark past, often hidden from the history books, and to remove the massive “lost cause” monuments scattered throughout the city that glorified the Confederacy.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc you used to make the map

A: The 19th century basemap was acquired from the Library of Congress’ map collection. Taking a look at that map by itself is interesting (you can view it at the Library of Congress website), but I decided to try georeferencing it in order to compare it to modern GIS data. I relied on buildings and intersections that have survived since the mid-1800s as control points. I was amazed by how well the map matched up to modern imagery.

The 21st century lidar data was from the USGS National Map. I used WhiteBox Tool’s Python interface to visualize the data using the Time In Sunlight tool. Finally, I combined the two datasets in GIMP image editing software.

Maps and Mappers of the 2022 calendar: Inge van Daelen, Cover

Q: Tell us about yourself:

A: I started working in the cartography field about 2.5 years ago. I started part-time at Red Geographics as I had a full time job on the side. I studied Chinese and Tourism Destination Management, so I didn’t have a background in GIS at all. Luckily, my friend (and boss) Hans van der Maarel helps me out and I’ve learned a lot. I now provide training in (geo)software packages, give presentations about field-related topics, take on cartographic projects and recently became an FME Certified Professional and Trainer.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: We used to have Friday Funday at the office, where we would try new things. Things that aren’t necessarily productive, but fun and related to what we do. Hans found a tutorial online, made by Tom Patterson, on editing raw satellite images. I immediately became hooked. We decided to create our own webshop selling products with the prints we’ve made, because we wanted to share what we created. I usually go for bright colors, not true to nature per se. Sometimes though, you don’t need to edit them at all, our earth is absolutely stunning as it is! I also make my own accessories, use the images as a background for phones and computers, and we print our images on the notebooks and business cards we hand out during training. Choosing which image I want is often the most difficult part.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: The data is downloaded from the USGS website and then edited in Photoshop. I merged the red, blue and green band together and started the editing. I added two more layers to be able to edit the water and land separately and enhance the quality with another layer. By then, the images were around 16K in quality, so I reduced them to 6-8K, otherwise the files were too big to handle.

A Changing of the Guard at GeoHipster

Mike Dolbow
Mike Dolbow

From Mike

“You’ve seen enough of that one.” –Nigel Tufnel

Well, here we are! It was about five years ago that I agreed to head up the effort to create an independent business for GeoHipster, building off the amazing momentum that Atanas began back in 2013. Since then, I’ve been amazed at all the opportunities and connections that GeoHipster has opened up for me: attending conferences, meeting some pretty cool people (including many of you!), and connecting with other map nerds around the globe. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to do this and “steer the ship” over the past few years.

But, as I explained to my fellow GeoHipster collaborators in December, it’s become pretty clear to me that I’ve run out of steam. I haven’t published an interview since January 2021, I’ve only pitched one or two since then, and I keep forgetting other key parts of the effort. (Notice how late we’ve been in publishing our “Maps and Mappers” posts for 2022.) In other words, I feel like I’m not putting in the effort that our community deserves.

So back in December, I started asking around to see if anyone was interested in taking over leadership of the brand and establishing a new business for it. Lucky for me (and for all of us), Randal stepped up. We’re not in any rush to do a “clean hand-off” or anything like that, but I do anticipate that by the end of this calendar year, GeoHipster will no longer be a registered business in my home state…but will carry on in Tennessee. I’ve got a plan for transferring most of the assets as well as donating to some of our favorite geo-charities.

I’m confident that GeoHipster will be in good hands with Mr. Hale, who has conducted many interviews for us over the years, judged for the calendar, and provided valuable guidance and insights. Perhaps most importantly, he embodies the fun and independent spirit that makes GeoHipster stand out as not just a business, but a force for good within the community. It’s been a pleasure serving in this role over the years, and I’m incredibly excited to see where Randal takes it next. Happy Mapping!

Randal Hale
Randal Hale

From Randal

….and that’s where I come in….I think. Hello! 

Mike put out a call and I slowly stuck my hand up and volunteered to run with this. As Mike said above, Atanas started this weird journey back in 2013. At that point in my life I was sitting in Athens, Georgia responding to Atanas and probably going “What is a geohipster anyway – oh yeah I’ll do some interviews….”. I think we even ran a poll somewhere on what we think a geohipster does. For me the website turned into this documentation project on “why we do what we do”. It’s also scattered with healthy irreverence for this industry, poking a bit in some areas, and just being fun. That’s the most important thing – make it fun. 

Anyway – over the next bit Mike is going to teach me all the hidden features of the website and how GeoHipster is run. I’ve been thinking about this for a good while and I’m excited. Of course I’m already running “one thing” – which is North River Geographic Systems. So I’ll be juggling for a bit as I get into a good routine. 

With that – bear with me as we get this thing rolling. I look forward to it and I hope you all hang with us during this transition.