Maps, maps, and more maps!

This week I have been working on maps for Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park’s Cultural Landscape Report. Working with Jeff Killion, a historical landscape architect at the Olmsted Center, I have been editing maps that show what features existed at the park during different time periods. Through this project, I have gained a much greater understanding of map-making and its significance.

Where does this road go? What tree should be over here?

On a technical level, I started my summer hardly knowing how to use Adobe Illustrator, the software that we use to draw the maps. Luckily, however, another intern, Ashley, who is super savvy with the Adobe software, gave the other interns and I two workshops on how to use the many features of these programs. Thank you Ashley!! Tasks that had been taking me hours suddenly could be completed in a few clicks! I’m definitely going to take what I learned back with me to school next year!

On a more conceptual level, I have been thinking about the purpose and benefits of map-making. I find the old maps from as early as 1865 interesting because they offer clues on how people’s relationship to the courthouse and the other buildings has changed over time. For example, new paths have been added that allow visitors to experience many more buildings in the park.

1968 Period Plan

1968 Period Plan

Existing conditions

Existing conditions

This week, we also got to participate as map users in a focus group with April Antonellis from the history program. April is working on creating an interactive online map exploring how the War of 1812 affected American Indian homelands. Visually documenting the movement of 63 different tribes over time is harder than one might think! I’m really glad that I was able to listen to April and her team as they tried to figure out the best way to use color and different magnifications to overcome this design challenge.

As week three comes to a close, I am so grateful for all of the really nice, helpful, and fun people that I have met at the Olmsted Center. 🙂

Happy Fourth of July!

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