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Quotes of the Day for 24 August 2004 – Maps

Henry Gannett was born at Bath, Maine on this day in 1846 and was educated at Harvard University. He was a member of the Hayden Survey which explored the West from 1872 to 1879, he prepared maps in Wyoming and Colorado. The United States Geological Service made Gannett its chief geographer in 1882, and in 1890 he helped create the United States Board of Geographic Names. Gannett was a founding member and later a president of the National Geographic Society, and has been called the Father of American Mapmaking.

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The quotes:

When I had mapped the pond ... I laid a rule on the map lengthwise, and then breadthwise, and found, to my surprise, that the line of greatest length intersected the line of greatest breadth exactly at the point of greatest depth.
     - Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Neither the historian nor the cartographer can ever reproduce the reality they are trying to communicate to the reader of books or maps; they can but give a plan, a series of indications, of this reality. There are contrasting schemes for choosing from enormous numbers of geographic details. You may have a map in which every feature that can be named, every hill, brook, crossroads, is crowded in; or you may have a map in which many details are omitted in the effort to show the reader the lay of the land, the shape of the mountain systems, the relations of drainage, relief, communications, and so on. Both kinds are useful, depending on the needs of the user.
     - Crane Brinton, 1898 - 1968

The world can doubtless never be well known by theory: practice is absolutely necessary; but surely it is of great use to a young man, before he sets out for that country, full of mazes, windings, and turnings, to have at least a general map of it, made by some experienced traveller.
     - Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, 1694 - 1773

A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.
     - Alford Korzybski, 1879 - 1950

You can always tell a Midwestern couple in Europe because they will be standing in the middle of a busy intersection looking at a wind-blown map and arguing over which way is west. European cities, with their wandering streets and undisciplined alleys, drive Midwesterners practically insane.
     - Bill Bryson


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