"The map is not the territory," as Alfred Korzybski famously noted. And data is not life. But it's information, and it could become knowledge—or even wisdom—if properly considered. We see and think about symbols and abstractions constantly. Arguably, we need them to help us see beyond ourselves.
The statistician and artist Edward Tufte urges uncluttered design in all things so as to seriously impart only the most vital information. And this is too often overlooked as we (news reporters) try to do our work. But maps are much more than serious conveyances of important statistics. They are—or can be—works of art. They can be artifacts that tell stories the cartographer never considered.
Maps, like our city, also require active engagement. You have to look, and think, and look again as you try to make sense—and connections—about what you're seeing.
With this in mind, City Paper presents our first ever Maps Issue. Here you'll find renderings showing us things we didn't know, or showing us things we did know in a new and compelling light. The city's food deserts are mapped and restaurant health violations recorded. Breaking things down by neighborhood, we map Baltimore's racial composition, its economic development efforts, its prison population, its unemployment rates, its health disparities—and thus its clusters of poverty and wealth. We map and compare the murder of African-American men by guns, to all others.
We also chart an Arabbers path through Baltimore, the location of our city's many murals, where the potholes are, where the bike paths are, where police gave out the most parking tickets, and which neighborhoods got the most 311 calls for rodent control.
There is much more at citypaper.com, where you will find links to maps and data visualizations of Baltimore City that you can layer, query, and animate. They are not the territory either, but we hope they illuminate it. (Edward Ericson Jr.)