Panoramic Maps

Panoramic Maps are a class of maps which are also loosely called as the illustrated maps, perspective maps, panoramic maps, Geopictorial maps, bird’s-eye view maps.

Contrary to the general road map, topographic mapping or atlas, the pictorial maps depict a territory more artistically compared to the technical style. The cartography may be a refined 3-D perspective landscape or may be a simple map graphic livened up with illustrations of animals, people, and buildings.  They can feature all sorts of different topics such as historical events, local agricultural products or legendary figures and covering everything from an entire continent to a college campus. Designed by specialized illustrators and artists, pictorial maps are a rich secular tradition and a form of art, ranging from cartoon maps on placemats in the restaurant to the precious art prints in the museums.

Panoramic maps are generally has an area as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. They generally do not scale to show the layout of streets, buildings and major landscape features in perspective. Although the regular maps emphasizes on the accurate representation of distances, the pictorial maps enhances the landmarks and often incorporate a complex interaction of different scales in an image to give the viewer a more familiar sense of recognition. By focusing on style and objects the maps cover a spectrum short childlike cartoon art in spectacular graphics which are more appealing, informative and very accurate. A few of them requires thousands of hours to produce.

The History and the Tradition of Pictorial Maps

According to Will Durant, the map shows us the face of the history. This is particularly true for the pictorial maps because their mission has always been to present a visual message. All through the centuries, the pictorial maps have been used to show the industries of the city, the cuisine of a country, the history of a region or sacred sites as well as the attractions of a tourist town.

The history of the pictorial maps overlaps much with the history of the cartography as a whole. The ancient artifacts suggest that the pictorial mapping has been around since the history began.

In the medieval cartography, the icons, religious and historical ideas frequently overshadowed the accurate geographic proportions. One classic example is the T and O map representing the three continents known as a cross of Jerusalem at its center. The more precise art showing a bird’s-eye view of the landscape in urban area flourished during the European Renaissance. As an emerging business centers like Venice began to prosper, local leaders commissioned the artists to develop a graphical view of their cities to help organize fairs and direct the increasing flow of visiting merchants. When printing started, the pictorial maps have been developed in some primitive forms of advertising that cities compete to attract greater participation in trade of the world of commerce.

Later, during the era of exploration, the maps were briefly more accurate for navigation purposes and were often sprinkled with drawings and sketches that ships sailing that indicate the direction of trade winds, the small and large trees to represent the woods and mountains and sea creatures and exotic native much of their imagination. As the need for geographical accuracy increased, these illustrations gradually slipped from the map and on the borders and eventually disappeared completely in the wake of the modern scientific mapping.

The 19th Century

As the cartography developed, art form went its own way, and reached the popularity during the 19th century with the development of railways. Between 1825 and 1875, the production and collection of panoramic maps of cities has risen to something like mania. The United States alone, thousands of overview maps were produced. Somewhat the same as the websites during their time, each city needs to remain competitive in attracting immigrants do trade. At times an artistic exaggeration bordering on misrepresentation of some of the travelers were drawn through images of idyllic, bustling cities along with the humming factories, only to find the sad series of mud-soaked shacks when they arrived. The largest collection of these photos maintained by the Library of Congress, and a lot of more beautiful ones reprinted and sold.

The 20th Century

With the growth of tourism, maps, pictorial map-making resurfaced as a popular cultural art form in the 1920s to the 1950s, often with a whimsical style that reflects the Art Deco period. Another resurgence occurred in the 1970s and 80s. This was the culmination of companies like Descartes and Archar, who had produced hundreds of promotional maps that are colorful mainly in the U.S. and Canadian cities. Local businesses were flatteringly drawn on these ‘Character maps’ with their logos proudly incorporated into their buildings. Looking at these maps presented over the years, we can clearly see the changing face of the industry since the dominant production gave rise to business parks and logos service and the high-tech economy.
Today, as in all other forms of media, the digital revolution has changed the way map are executed and researched. But as good writing is a good pictorial map is all times the result of aesthetic choices, intricate labor, and creative editing rather than technology. At a time when Google Earth can give us access to fly over almost anywhere on earth, it is surprising that many beautiful impressions of the prints have been made before there were planes or even cameras. Whether drawn with pencil, quill or pixels, the pictorial maps are always scaled in the perspective of the imagination.

Pictorial Map-makers up to Modern Time

Ironically, despite of all the changes have recorded, very little has changed the business in creating a pictorial map for centuries. Showing off the city will attract visitors and boost the local pride which they are intended for. Most of these maps are still created by many specialists who maintain the tradition. Many of them have traveled from town to town to get the support of local businesses, industrialists, NGOs who would of course be guaranteed a prominent place for their properties on map.

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