Comparing 16th Century Maps to Current Satellite Imagery

By Leah Goldman

Remember life before GPS? Instead of to-the-minute maps and turn-by-turn directions to the tune of an Australian woman's voice, we relied on compasses and hand drawn maps.


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In the 16th century, Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg compiled Civitates Orbis Terrarum, a book of bird's-eye-view maps. From the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's and the Jewish National and University Library's Historic Cities site:

"This great city atlas, edited by Georg Braun and largely engraved by Franz Hogenberg, eventually contained 546 prospects, bird-eye views and map views of cities from all over the world. Braun (1541-1622), a cleric of Cologne, was the principal editor of the work, and was greatly assisted in his project by the close, and continued interest of Abraham Ortelius, whose Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of 1570 was, as a systematic and comprehensive collection of maps of uniform style, the first true atlas."

Take a look at how the Google Maps of the 1500s compares to today's version, in some of the world's biggest cities.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/04/comparing-16th-century-maps-to-current-satellite-imagery/237664/