An Electronic Journal of
Geography and Mathematics.
(Major articles are refereed; full electronic archives available).

Persistent URL:

Down the Mail Tubes:  Yesterday, Today, and...Tomorrow?
Sandra Lach Arlinghaus
Adjunct Professor of Mathematical Geography and Population-Environment Dynamics
School of Natural Resources and Environment
The University of Michigan

Download the linked kmz file and load it into Google Earth to drive around the model as you read this article.

A wealth of material is available for display in Google Earth.  Not long ago, there were few historical maps that had been digitized and used as geo-referenced overlays on the 3D GoogleGlobe.  Today, there are numerous maps ready for use.  They hint at the excitement of what is to come...tomorrow. 

The figures below serve as a photo essay of "then and now" as they recast four maps from a 1986 paper-and-print monograph into the current 3D world (Arlinghaus, 1986).  To get the full effect, and to perhaps discover more map "finds" online, the reader should download the linked .kmz file above and drive around the virtual world while looking at historical maps in the context of today's and, in some cases, yesterday's world.  3D buildings enhance visualization as do "street views" from cameras.  Visit the old and the new simultaneously.  Let historical juxtapositions pique creative research imagination as a guide to coupling the new with the old, enlivening and enlightening as we proceed on a journey toward the future.



Figure 1a.  Sole spatial representation of 1870 Rohrpost in 1986 work.

Figure 1b.  Supplementation of Figure 1a.  See the locations of the places set against a map of the period.  See the network of 1870 cast in today's light.  Often there is debate about whether "topological" networks or networks that follow actual streets are more useful.  With this sort of display it is easy to have both and gain the advantage that each has to offer.


Figure 2a.  From 1986 work.

Figure 2b.  Supplementation of Figure 2a.



Figure 3a.  From 1986 work.

Figure 3b.  Supplementation of Figure 3a.


Figure 4a.  From 1986 work.

Figure 4b.  Supplementation of Figure 4a.

In her pre-publication review of the 1986 manuscript, Sylvia L. Thrupp (Alice Freeman Palmer Professor Emerita of History, The University of Michigan) noted:  "The most original part of the whole the use made of all the historical evidence deployed in showing the limits of variance in the spatial design of the tubal networks.  History is thus linked to geographical theory and both, to urban ecology."  Perhaps Sylvia would have enjoyed seeing how these 'limits of variance' have advanced in the quest to forge further linkage in the world of tomorrow!



Solstice:  An Electronic Journal of Geography and Mathematics
Volume XX, Number 1
Institute of Mathematical Geography (IMaGe).
All rights reserved worldwide, by IMaGe and by the authors.
Please contact an appropriate party concerning citation of this article:

Solstice was a Pirelli INTERNETional Award Semi-Finalist, 2001 (top 80 out of over 1000 entries worldwide)

One article in Solstice was a Pirelli INTERNETional Award Semi-Finalist, 2003 (Spatial Synthesis Sampler).

Solstice is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals maintained by the University of Lund where it is maintained as a "searchable" journal.

Solstice is listed on the journals section of the website of the American Mathematical Society,
Solstice is listed in Geoscience e-Journals
IMaGe is listed on the website of the Numerical Cartography Lab of The Ohio State University:

Congratulations to all Solstice contributors.
1964 Boulder Drive,
Ann Arbor, MI 48104