Category Archives: Blog 2

Blog # 2 Map Perspectives: 4 Maps

All the maps I reviewed all very interesting in their perspective on what to emphasize.

My favorite map was the map that showed where the Native Alaskas Settlement are located throughout the State of Alaska. It is from this map I can see that they settled next to bodies of water: rivers, ocean, sea,   and   lakes. Also, in this map, I liked the fact the mountain ranges are shown. One can see how the different Native Alaskans tribes were isolated from each other, and the difference on what they dependent on various ways to get food: whales vs. fish, etc.

My second favorite map is the Alaska Map laid over the MId-West of United States. It really show how big Alaska is to other states. I did not realize it was bigger than Texas. I have new appreciation of how big Alaska is compared to Texas and California.

My third favorite map is the Harriman Expedition Map. That expedition in 1899 was a amazing one and appreciation the journey that took as it is displayed on the map as they traveled the coast along the southern part of Alaska and to all the way to Siberia. Wow, what an adventure and risk those people took on.

Finally, my fourth favorite map is the location of Health Care Facilities in Alaska. I live in Barrow, Alaska. We have Alaska Native Health Hospital. It is a beautiful. Emergency Room, Dental, Vision, and specialist of all areas come in once a month for several days at a time.   I would not come to Barrow unless I knew there was a hospital. So for someone to decide to move to new community, I would think that they most would ask if there was a hospital in town. Looking at the map, there is not that many hospitals.



Map Perspectives

Map 3: This map was particularly interesting because it showed Alaska in relation to the rest of the circumpolar north. Sometimes I forget that Alaska is actually America, as it is so far away from the rest of the country and in many ways, very different. The first week I was up here, I kept looking for things in French too because it felt so much like Canada to me. I even thought ‘oh, I need to go exchange some money’ because I was about to run out of American cash. It was then that I realised that Alaska really is America, despite it looking to my brain like Canada.

Figure 2.6 Geographic Projection: This map doesn’t do good by Alaska, or the rest of the north. Vietnam looks great, and so does the Central American region. Poor Alaska looks bloated, stretched out, and distorted to appear much wider than it actually is. Scandinavia and northern Russia don’t seem to fare any better, as their coastlines are distorted as well.  

Figure 2.7 Mercator Projection: Mercator is the worst type of map and any Canadian will tell you that because of what it does to our poor country. This projection makes parts of the north, like Alaska and poor Canada, look obnoxiously, comically large. On some Mercator maps, Canada is larger than the whole of Africa or South America, but it’s really nowhere near that big. Alaska also looks huge in Mercator projection, so when I’m trying to impress my Lower 48 friends with how big Alaska is, I send them a Mercator map.

Figure 2.10 Orthographic Projection: I am rather fond of this type of map because I love seeing how close Alaska is to the North Pole compared to where I am from. It also most closely resembles the view if you’re looking at Alaska on a globe; it’s realistic, it makes sense to me, and it shows Alaska’s place in the circumpolar world. I like this map quite a bit.  


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Fig 2.5 is one of my favorites because it’s always so crazy to see how much bigger Alaska is than all of the other states. Of course, I knew that Alaska was much larger than even Texas, but when it’s but into perspective it’s very eye-opening. I think that people always underestimate Alaska because it’s so far north and so it’s easy for people to assume that Alaska is not a large state, but rather a small one.

Fig 2.3 is another one of my favorites because I didn’t realize that Alaska had different kinds of forests. I knew that South-East Alaska had more rainforests, but there are also three different variations in the interior alone. The next time I drive home to Anchorage I’m going to pay extra attention to the forests as I drive through them.

Fig 2.2 was an interesting map to look at because it shows just how scarce health care facilities are in Alaska. Growing up in Anchorage, I never had to worry about getting adequate health care because I’d always had it. But looking at this map, it’s shocking to see that there are only about 15 actual hospitals for the entire state, and most of them are concentrated in South-Central and South-East Alaska.

Fig 2.1 is kind of cool because it’s funny to see how much of our understanding of Alaska has changed. The shape is right in this map, but there are so many landmarks and bodies of water that aren’t mapped. The interior is also described as “The Great Marshlands” instead of tundra, which is an interesting description of an area that we now know is different.

Blog 2: Maps

I enjoyed looking at all the maps in the reading but I particularly found 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.5 to be interesting.

Figure 2.1 was interesting to me because I love old maps and I enjoyed reading about the story behind the map. True, the map is lacking by modern standards. However, it is a primary source from a historic event that occurred in 1899. The fact that the map is not very detailed on the interior of Alaska is part of what makes the map interesting from a historical perspective. When this map was created American academics still had much to learn about the interior of Alaska. It was created during the “Age of Exploration’ of Alaska. I consider the map of Figure 2.1 to be a work of art. It is beautifully illustrated.

Figure 2.2 was interesting as well. I found the explanation of explanatory theories in geography that accompanied the map to be interesting. I was a little bit surprised to see how few hospitals there are in Alaska compared to the number of communities in the state. I had never given it much thought before looking at the map but many communities in Alaska are relatively far removed from the closest hospital. I grew up near San Jose in California. I had never lived in a small town, let alone a rural area, before moving to Alaska but now I live in Chugiak, which feels rural to me. As I have traveled to small communities in Alaska (Nome, or on the Dalton Highway) I have been surprised that people choose to live in those places. From my perspective, even Anchorage seems isolated and remote from the rest of the country. I have spoken to people in the small communities that I have visited in Alaska and most of them seem to love living where they do. I personally cannot imagine living so far removed from the closest major hospital but many people in Alaska do and they are comfortable with it.

I enjoyed studying Figure 2.3 as well. I liked looking at the distribution of forests in Alaska. I don’t know much about different kinds of trees but I have always found the trees in Alaska to be interesting. Growing up in California we used to go and camp in the groves of giant redwood trees. That is kind of what I expected Alaska to look like the first time I came up. I was surprised that the trees in Alaska were relatively small compared to the giant redwoods and ponderosa pines that I had grown up with. I have been told that trees don’t grow as large up here because of the darkness and the permafrost. I live in the woods in Chugiak and it was interesting being able to find Chugiak on the map and seeing what kind of forest I live in. As you look at Figure 2.3 you notice that there are no forests at the top of the state. I suppose this is due to the cold and darkness in the winter. When I drove up the Dalton highway to Deadhorse it was pretty incredible to get to the point where there were no more trees.

I also enjoyed studying Figure 2.5 as well. I have driven across the United States. I have also driven from Anchorage to Deadhorse. It is always cool to look at maps that compare the relative size of Alaska and the lower 48 because it reminds me of those long road trips that I have taken. I teach geography and my students often ask me how big Alaska is compared to the lower 48. When these questions arise, we look at a map that is similar to Figure 2.5 in the atlas that my students use. Figure 2.5 really shows how vast the state of Alaska is.

Map Perspectives

The first map that caught my attention was the medical distribution one.   This really brought home just how far and few medical care is!   I’ve been at the mercy of this myself.   I broke my leg a few ago while at our cabin in Talkeetna…which is only accessible by snowmachine.   So I first had to endure a snowmachine ride out to the car…then the car ride an urgent care in Wasilla.   Now I might have been able to find something in Talkeetna (as this shows a rural clinic), but I had no idea where it was or if they’d be open, so driving to Wasilla made more sense for me. Something that I feel that this doesn’t show is that many of these rural clinic have limited hours.   I was also shocked that Fairbanks didn’t have more!

I also found the forest map very interesting because I just took an anthropology class that was discussing how certain forest types are growing in response to climate change.   It would be interesting to see this map as a time lapse – how has the dispersal of forest types changed over time and what are the projected changes.   I feel like this map is just a bit of the picture and to be truly useful, it should show those changes.

I really liked the projections.   So often we just see the “traditional” world view, which are versions of the first three.   They are all slightly different, but all are what I would consider “traditional” maps.   But then we get the Winkel-Tripel project that centers on the Pacific, which is a great view for Alaska.   It sure makes Australia seem closer!   And look at those Aleutians stretching out to Japan – makes you realize why Japan was invading through the Aleutians in World War II!   Now I’ve seen that one…I hadn’t seen the last one before.   That really highlights Alaska – and again just how far out of the Aleutian Chain goes!!! I like that you can see Hawaii down there in the bottom.

Now I admit as I went to look at the maps in the atlas, I got distracted by all the other cool ones.   I loved the time zone one!! Or that distance one (Map 6).   And those election district changes between 1960 and 1994!!!   But on topic….map 3 was hard to adjust to with the polar ice caps – definitely a different view. Makes me wonder if that is the future….I like Map 4 much like I liked the last two projects in that it really shows Alaska’s place in relation to her closest neighbors – Russia and Japan.   When we look at at at traditional map, Japan seems like the other side of the world, but it really isn’t for us in Alaska. We think of Russia, but we don’t think of Japan as often.   I didn’t really like the last one (Map 5), sorry Gov. Hickel.   I liked the colors (that you can really see the Panhandle and it doesn’t get mixed into Canada), but otherwise it didn’t do much for me.   It seemed like a lot of empty space with the way the Pacific Ocean is highlighted.   It does makes you realize why people like to just put Alaska and Hawaii in boxes in the corners….

I do believe that a good map is worth many pages of description.   We all know how helpful a map is to find a new location (we were just using Google Maps today to show my grandfather were I might need picked up next week as I wanted to give historical directions (it is by the old barn!) and my husband was trying to name roads (it is off the Parks at the Trunk roundabout) and we were just confusing each other).   Changing the perspective of a map can really change how it makes a point, which we clearly saw with the projections.   It is shocking how different the world looks when you change the map focus from the Atlantic to the Pacific!

Blog 2

I have always found maps very interesting. The ways in which they can be presented via different projections reminds be of plotting data on different types of axes (normal vs log scale). Both methods, (just like different projections) present the same data but the data can look very different when compared side by side. As such, the differing methods of data presentation stress differing features of the data.

The first projection that stands out to me is the Mercator Projection. This projection undeniably distorts the polar regions. But this is simply the “cost of doing business’ to create a map optimized for navigation. However, while this makes bearings easier, how did early navigators correct for the polar distortions in distance?

The Peters Projection never made much sense to me from a functional stand point. It does a good job of accurately presenting the area but what is its use? If accurate representation of area is that important to the task at hand why not get a globe?

Next the Orthographic Projection was striking to me. It reminded me of what I’ve heard old timers refer to as “pilot maps’ That is to say that if a line was drawn from New York to San Francisco on a “pilot map’ the same line would be arched on a more traditional projection like the Mercator. I don’t know if these two map projections are the same but they sure do look very similar.

Lastly, I found the Alaska Forest map to be interesting. I felt it really showed not just the varied nature of Alaska’s Forests, but also the massive amount of Alaska which simply have no forests. I know that there is a lot of non-forested lands in Alaska but this map really drove that point home!

Blog 2: Maps

From the list of maps my top four would be the 19th century Alaska Map (Figure 2.1), the map of the forests (Figure 2.3), the map of the villages (Figure 2.4), and the orthographic projection (Figure 2.10).

I was impressed at how close the 19th century Harriman Expedition map was considering they were sailing around to gather and process that information. Although it does not give any information to the interior of Alaska, I think the map is relatively close considering the technology they had.

The other two maps that I found interesting were the maps of the villages and forests of Alaska. There were both regional geographic maps since they focused on a single feature. However, these features tell about the of land and the people. Many of my students are from rural areas of Alaska and it is historically interesting to see where villages were formed because of the waterways of the state. Additionally, I am from the interior of Alaska and I am so used to being surrounded by trees. It gives a different perspective to see how much of the state does not have any forestry. By comparing the Harriman Expedition map to the forestry map, it is explains why they labeled “Great Marshes’ as the only indicator of what the land was like. There are no trees for hundreds of miles. These two maps would be very neat to share with my students.

Lastly, I think the orthographic projection gives the best perspective for the scale size of the state compared to other surrounding countries. I like spherical geometry and this map created in a mathematical way. It looks like it could be sketched from the International Space Station. I am curious to the exact process of how this map was made.

Not all maps are created equal.

Fig. 2.5. This map from the 1994 National Geographic is awesome! It’s the type of map that every Alaskan teenager would want to hang on the wall of their bedroom. It shows the “true” size of Alaska when imposed over some of the lower 48 states. It’s interesting how much the mercator projection distorts the map. Most people don’t realize that Alaska (663,300  mi ²) is smaller than Mexico (761,600 mi ²)!


Fig. 2.2. This map inadvertently shows the emptiness of Alaska. Many Americans couldn’t imagine their country having an area as big as Alaska, with so few hospitals. In fact, you can count the number of general acute care hospitals with both your hands… well, if you’ve got six extra fingers that is.


Fig. 2.10. The main reason I like this map is because it puts Alaska in the center of world! While I realize many people around the world don’t even do as much as think of Alaska, I think that if we adopted this map globally, a lot more folk would be familiar with our quaint state. In all seriousness, I think this map does a terrific job at showing how interconnected the world is. Most people don’t realize that Fairbanks is closer to Oslo, Norway (3744 miles), than it is to Orlando, Florida (3757 miles)


Fig. 2.4. This map is interesting upon analysis. When looking at where the Native settlements are established, nearly all of them are by the ocean, or among a river. There is one notable tribe that seems to be established far from any water, and nested within the Brooks Range. I wonder if this tribe is hardier than some of the southern seaboard tribes. Maybe for what they lose in water, they makeup for in isolation and protection. I am curious to see more information about each individual red dot on this map!

week 2: Maps!

Figure 2.1 is cool.   It captures the whimsy and harshness of an unknown land.   it says to me “there is a lot of snow, some bears, a walrus up North, and if you found an ice dragon here I would not be surprised.”

Figure 2.2 reminds me of moving to Alaska.   At the time we had serious health concerns for my wife and soon to be born son (all are currently well).   We were in an area that could have supported, but things got weird.   When we made the decision to go through with the move we knew that healthcare would be an issue, but having talked to the doctors here we saw that Alaskans are willing and able to do much more with less.   We moved and everything turned out fine.

Figure 2.5 is cool because I grew up in the North-East and my parents act like a trip to DC is some sort of pilgrimage.   This map helps to explain why we can’t just pop down to Palmer every weekend.

Figure 2.9 I find interesting because in a way it puts the center of mass for world population towards the center of the map instead of at the margins.   The traditional way of splitting the map down the Pacific forces a large portion of the human population out to the margins while emphasizing what is essentially NATO.

related to figure 2.10:

The link below is one that I find informative because it explains how shifting your view of a map can impact your view of the world.   This map emphasizes how important strategically Alaska has been for the United States role in the world.

The Map That Remade an Empire


Blog #2 Potvin

Figure 2.1 This map depicting the route of the Harriman Expedition in 1899 is quite interesting to look at. Since they sailed from Washington, you notice that most of their recordings are in the southern parts such as the islands, Valdez, and Homer areas. This acknowledges that far most of Alaska was not explored at this time due to the little information given on the interior or northern parts as written “Great Marshes”. I also like this map because it reminds me how close Russia is to Alaska. The art on this map is also nice to look at.

Figure 2.4 This map is an eye opening map. Although I did not see a description on this map, you can see that native settlement has populated most of Alaska. As natives have placed their origins in Alaska, from the far north to the farthest south, the map indicates that most settlements run along the rivers. This is probably for various reasons such as being close to a major food source, water source, and even for travel/trade.

Figure 2.5 This map is by far my favorite map to study. First of all, most maps we regularly see do not show how big the state of Alaska truly is. Although we are separated from the rest of the 48 States, it should not go unrecognized. As the reading states, in size Alaska is 17% of what the United States. It is crazy to think you can drive through three different states in the same time it takes to get from Fairbanks to Anchorage. Our land mass is huge sitting at 591,000 square miles!

Figure 2.8 This map is not enjoyable to look at. I dislike how it distorts the polar regions making the map look very stretched out and disproportionate. This makes it harder to not only read a map but also have a clear perspective on how places are shaped and distance relevance.