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Oftentimes when we make maps it is based on our subjective interpretation of what is aesthetically pleasing. I would like it if people posted examples of beautiful maps, displaying any phenomena in any manner.

Below I have posted one of my favorite maps. This is an example of a value-by-alpha map recently asked about as How to implement value-by-alpha map in GIS?, and the picture is taken from the GeoVista website.

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Citation for the map's makers:

Geovisual analytics to enhance spatial scan statistic interpretation: an analysis of U.S. cervical cancer mortality Jin Chen , Robert E Roth , Adam T Naito , Eugene J Lengerich and Alan M MacEachren International Journal of Health Geographics 2008, 7:57

It would be best for the cultivation of knowledge if people would elaborate on why the particular maps they cite are beautiful.

The reason I believe I think the cited value-by-alpha map is beautiful is that it creates a very simple, but obvious and striking visual hierarchy with which to interpret the standardized mortality ratio's. This is in particular useful combined with the very "noisy" standardized mortality ratio's, and the typically very noisy clusters of abnormally high rates produced by the SatScan clustering technique. One can even clearly see very small clusters around Chicago and Philadelphia.

There are other supplemental elements of the map that make it easy on the eyes. For example, the black background, the heavier white outline for around the states and the white outline for the states (that is blended the same as the attribute values). Maps with many polygons can particularly be distracting if one does not take care when plotting the polygon outlines.

Also the legend is particularly well created, and effectively demonstrates the concept (although it certainly isn't a typical legend, so took some original creative thought).

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locked by PolyGeo Nov 13 '15 at 1:09

This question's answers are a collaborative effort: if you see something that can be improved, just edit the answer to improve it! No additional answers can be added here

closed as primarily opinion-based by Chris W, PolyGeo May 24 '15 at 2:05

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Whats your thoughts on having a repeat question but with 'badly designed' in mind. - I have seen plenty of old local government web mapping sites that are very painful to understand (even as a GIS professional) I think it would be good to show examples of bad design, with detailed justification, but at the same time, is it ok to name & shame people? – Simon Oct 31 '10 at 1:18
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@Simon, I think suggestions of badly designed maps could be just as informative. If its public I have no problem shaming anyone, and it would have informational value to our community. Like you said the poster should add reasoning as to why it is poor. – Andy W Oct 31 '10 at 1:58
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@Simon, don't forget about cartotalk.com which has a forum dedicated to people posting maps for people to critique. – mkennedy Dec 8 '10 at 23:30
    
Im a big fan of that forum. – Simon Dec 9 '10 at 2:56
    
Not to open a can of worms, but the aggregation by county really distorts the interpretability of the example map in the question. It is pretty, though! ;) – Dan S. Apr 5 '11 at 17:22

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Nelson Minar has created a vector tile map of all the rivers in the United States that I think is pretty amazing.

enter image description here

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Maybe a nice addon: All rivers that flow into the Mississippi. twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/… – Gideon Sep 20 '13 at 19:31

This map shows how political boundaries would be located if the supercontinent Pangea still existed. Should be shown in every geography/geology course.

enter image description here

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Do you have a link to the original figure? – Dan C Sep 20 '13 at 19:46
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I found the map in this compilation: twistedsifter.com/2013/08/… A version with higher resolution can be found here: eatrio.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/10.-pangea_politik.jpg – Gideon Sep 20 '13 at 19:59

This is one of the maps from ER Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. What I like best here are the vertical labels for mountain peaks and places. It is a perfect fit for Japans' tategaki (columns going from top to bottom) writing direction.

Tufte Tourist Map

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I really like the 1:25'000 maps of Switzerland:

1:25'000 map of Switzerland

They manage to convey a huge amount of information while not looking overfilled. Also, I like the combination of the shading (which immediately gives you a good clue about the shape of the terrain) and the elevation lines (which you can use to determine the exact elevation at any point on the map).

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I just wrote a long message to the USGS about their new "National Map" 7.5' 1:24000 topo quads. They are truly horrible compared to their earlier products. This map is an excellent example of the art of cartography. I'm going to lift it and pass it along to USGS. I don't expect any change from them, they have slashed costs and now depend on machines to generate their imagery. I still felt like I needed to let them know that people notice. Thanks again for this excellent example! – Bob Denny Sep 10 '14 at 15:26
    
See the 2011 Topo Maps – Bob Denny Sep 10 '14 at 15:41
    
Incidentally, the design of the 1:25'000 Swiss maps is being changed right now (for the better or worse). You can already see the new design when you click on the image. – rolve Sep 12 '14 at 7:48

Not sure if this applies but check out the ones at http://www.davidrumsey.com/. Older maps georef'd and overlayed on google maps... lots on here but I like the Yosemite on http://rumsey.geogarage.com/maps/g2738110hires1.html

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There's some nice shading on this oneThere's some nice shading on this one -

link

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This seems to be missing some key elements of the map. What are the shadings meant to signify (very big and static waves in the ocean?) Of what significance are the highlighted points on the map? Why do particular countries have the orange overlay. This information was not available at the link you provided either. – Andy W May 21 '12 at 12:38
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The shadings are indicating the bathymetry. The points indicate areas where the company has data. I'm not sure about the orange overlay - perhaps just for visual appeal. The target users do not need any more info about the map, they are only interested in the highlighted points and already understand what they mean. I just haven't seen a representation of bathymetry in this way before and thought it looked intersting. – Ian May 24 '12 at 1:38

In french : L'âge d'or des cartes marines, Quand l’Europe découvrait le monde (trans google : The Golden Age charts, When Europe discovered the world), from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

All images : http://expositions.bnf.fr/marine/icono/index.htm

An example :

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I saw fellow GIS.SE user Michael Markieta's piece on airline flight paths on the BBC News website today. Very nice presentation. What tools were used to create these images?

Global Flight Paths North America Flight Paths

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I gave an example of a similar map in this thread for facebook connections, gis.stackexchange.com/a/4437/751. All it is is black background, and lines drawn with either heavy transparency or a color ramp so higher weights are drawn with a brighter color (lines for worldwide maps are typically great circle lines). Various tutorials exist for ArcMap, the R statistical program, and QGIS that I have seen. – Andy W May 30 '13 at 12:09
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The BBC is a bit late to this party. Micheal posted that back in 2011 spatialanalysis.ca/2011/…. I used the same database in QGIS around the same time anitagraser.com/2011/08/20/visualizing-global-connections – underdark May 30 '13 at 12:18

I recently found some beautiful maps in my local map store in Cologne. These are satellite images that have been edited. In my opinion, they offer a great balance of pure picture and annotations and you get a good impression of elevation. Maybe you have to see them in reality, but here are some examples. I have no connection to the distributor of these maps, I just love them! enter image description here

Zoomed in:

enter image description here

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I'd like to cite here the color version of the french "carte d'état-major" (1825-1866).

Source info

Examples :

Perpignan Dunkirk

These maps are available on the IGN interactive mapping portal (here centered on Saint-Malo).

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Some of the work of Pieter van den Keere is quite impressive. See this example Leo Belgicus from 1617.

enter image description here

I think that what makes some of his maps particularly beautiful, is the ability of combining the spatial information with caricature or heraldic, mixing cartography with illustration.

Here another example by Gezeichnet von W. Trier.

enter image description here

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The second one here caught my interest; very cool idea to represent the landmass with drawings that tell a story of how each country fits into the theme of the map (ww1). Commenting here so I can come back to it for inspiration, would be difficult (but cool) to somehow recreate this technique with the power of modern GIS technology... – Karim Bahgat Feb 9 '14 at 19:46

I've been a great fan of the thematic maps by French cartographer Philippe Rekacewicz. I especially like his hand drawn sketches and the maps derived from that. He captures well the emotional aspect that sometimes lies in the topic.

Three frontiers of Europe

fatalities of immigrants at the Schengen-border

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There's this mural in the Tokyo Sky Tree, it's a map of Tokyo which is partly animated using LCD screens, it's rather accurate while depicting the city in a fun way with hints about what the different areas are known for.

Detailed pictures and video here: http://www.team-lab.net/en/all/pickup/skytreemural.html

Tokyo Sky Tree mural

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The contrast of the lack of completeness and the amount of detail on this map makes it one of my all time favourites.

It is a italian/protuguese world map by Alberto Cantino from 1502 according to Wikipedia.

(Gigantic, high resolution images are available on the free web)

enter image description here

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ESRI recently published the following map due to its EsriUC Map Gallery and Software Applications Fair. I will be following this event and I am very excited for further maps. enter image description here

The map shows the estimated annual energy consumption of New York City. I regret that the quality is low. Still it is a great map in my opinion.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/esrigis (February 12, 2013)

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I once saw some important meeting of political leaders on Tv some years ago and they had an amazingly beautiful world-map that was gigantic in size. It was a beautiful orange and blue color and it had almost digital like squares popping out of it with small connecting nodes.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find it online after watching it so I don't have a link for it.

Other maps that I really like are by Vicente Fernando

enter image description here

enter image description here

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Just got this book in the mail this week. it has some truly beautiful maps in it.enter image description here

This is one of my favoritesenter image description here

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Which book would this be? And why is this map your favorite: what makes it good or beautiful? – whuber Jul 16 '13 at 20:18

I've always loved these cartoon maps by stephen walter (featured in a great BBC documenary series on the beauty of maps) http://www.stephenwalter.co.uk/wp/maps/. The ideas behind them was to integrate personal stories and human connections to a place into a map framework

enter image description here

enter image description here

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I like the map with a dark base layer. The representation of the overlay's is very interesting. I choose two map's with social network data's.

The first map is the localisations of the tweets

The second map is an extract of the game Watch Dogs with many live data's from Paris like Tweets, Instagram publications etc... enter image description here

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