A Cartographic Year in the Life of Boston

In early December, we Tweeted the following: Bostonographers—Tweet your favorite Boston-based news story of 2011. Boston is a place where things happen. What happened this year & where? We received one response . . . and that’s only if you count my uninspired wisecrack, “Go Sox.” (And I don’t).

What was the meaning of this Tweet? you may ask. Well, beyond our inherent curiosity about how Bostonians imagine the space and time through which they experience their lives, we were actually trying to accumulate some place-based stories for a map—a news roundup, year-ending map.

Last month, Andy and I were lucky enough to chat with Nate Berg of The Atlantic Cities. Early in our conversation, we discussed how cartographers and neogeographers are often asked the question, “Hasn’t everything already been mapped?” The idea of showing a year in news over space—on a glorified, albeit simple locator map—illustrates how “everything” cannot, and will not ever, be mapped. The inhabitants of time and space—migrating birds, tectonic plates, MBTA construction—are always in flux. Maps, like photographs, capture ephemeral moments.

Here is our cartographic snapshot of 2011 in Boston.

Last Sunday, The Ideas section of The Boston Globe carried a grayscale version of this map along with a short essay on “a year in the life” of the city. The stories we included were topically and spatially subjective, but we hope they succeeded in giving an impression of a dynamic city—a moment of Boston in flux.

Again, this was Boston in 2011 according to a few folks at Bostonography and The Boston Globe. And since our original Tweet query fell flat, we ask: Would you add anything?

Happy New Year, folks. Here’s to another year of Bostonographing!

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