America's Rivers Like You've Never Seen Them Before

Former Google engineer creates stunning maps of moving water across the US.
Staff Writer


The McKenzie River in Oregon

When you think of rivers, the Mississippi or the Columbia may come to mind. While these iconic waterways are magnificent and important in their own right, it’s easy to forget the creeks, streams and brooks that run through the United States like veins through the body.

But take one look at the graphic below and you’ll never forget them. Bringing water to almost every state and county, these waterways are the lifeblood of the nation, and they’re displayed magnificently in this project by former Google engineer Nelson Minar.

The map took Minar  “a few weeks,” according to his blog, and was created as part of a tutorial for software engineers on how to build vector tile maps. In this great blog postNOVA's senior editor Tim De Chant explains why vector-based maps are revolutionizing the world of cartography. In short, these new creations can have both high levels of detail and a small file size–a combination that was never possible before.  It's also equally as precise on the widest zoom as it is on the closest, meaning data can be sent more quickly and in better detail to your smart phone. 

“I did the one big map because it’s beautiful and relatively easy to do,” Minar told Gear Junkie. “Pretty much all mobile maps are vector-based now, and Google is moving to vectors on the desktop. I wanted to learn how that technology worked.”

Flickr/Nelson Minar

For more photos, check out Minar's Flickr page.

Via Gear Junkie. 


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