Off the Map

Happy 500th Birthday, Gerard Mercator

March 5th 2012

Mercator is aging well, or at least his maps are. He was a most remarkable and famous map and globe maker, known for his world atlases (in fact, he coined the word “atlas”), his piety, and his global projection–hey, Google uses it, so Mercator’s still the man! If you want background information, visit everybody’s go-to site or read Nicholas Crane’s great biography, Mercator: The Man Who Mapped the Planet (NY: Henry Holt, 2003).

Or, if you’re in the NYC vicinity, attend some birthday parties. The first is the New York Map Society’s monthly lecture (FREE!), this coming Saturday, March 11, at 2:30 pm, 6th floor of the Mid-Manhattan Library.  Our speaker is renowned map scholar Mark Monmonier, talking about the problems inherent in map projections, starting with Mercator’s. (In case you don’t know, here’s the problem: the earth is round, maps are flat). After the meeting, we’ll cross 5th Ave. to the Schwartzman Building,  the main library with the lions in front, where Geospatial Librarian Matt Knutzen will show us original Mercator atlases. Aside from his importance as a mapmaker, Mercator’s maps are incredibly beautiful–beautiful digitally, but more beautiful in person.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! There will also be an exhibit of Mercator maps and globes in Room 117–the splendid map room–from March 13th to September 29th. FREE! Libraries are FREE!