The early 19th century was a time of great change for New York, which had already cemented its status as America’s largest city.
The opening of the Erie Canal helped turn the city into a shipping powerhouse, and there was a building boom on the horizon. Cholera epidemics, fires, and riots swept through the city at various points.
This fascinating interactive map, from Esri, is a snapshot of New York City during the tumultuous time (1836 to be exact), overlaid on the modern-day satellite map.
Getting the Lay of the Land
The base map used above is the stunning “Topographical Map Of The City and County Of New–York, and the adjacent Country”, published by the prodigious mapmaker, Joseph Colton.
For easy viewing, the map’s legend is below:
This map includes all the usual features, such as roads and prominent buildings, but it also has some clever secondary information built in as well. For one, shading indicates ares that were more built-up at the time. There are also a number of visual techniques to indicate topographical features as well. After all, NYC wasn’t as extensive as it is today, and much of the land depicted in the map is still undeveloped.
The full map is well worth exploring as well, as there are a number of beautiful illustrations throughout.
Tool tip: Click the X on the info bar to hide it. (Mobile: Click the map, then the magnifying glass.)
The Big Picture: New York City in 1836
At this point in time, development in Lower Manhattan extended until about 14th Street, where buildings began to give way to open spaces. The city’s grid pattern was beginning to take shape, following the Commissioners’ Plan laid out in 1811. At the time, New York was anticipating massive growth, and the straightforward grid pattern was an efficient way to prepare the city for rapid expansion.
In the 1800s, fire was an ever-present danger for city dwellers. In fact, a major fire tore through Lower Manhattan a year prior to when this map was published.
Points of Interest
There are a number of points worth visiting on this map.
Transit Begins to Take Shape
In the 1830s, New York City’s first railroad line—horse powered for its first few years—connected Prince Street to the Harlem River, accelerating the city’s expansion northward from Lower Manhattan. This route is still recognizable today as the Harlem Line.
One very obvious difference between the two maps is how much land has been reclaimed along shorelines in the area. Battery Park City, on the west side of downtown, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard are two prominent examples of infill. Randall’s Island, located near the top of Manhattan, is also an interesting place to observe changes in topography. Randall’s Island is actually made up of three islands that were eventually conjoined in the 1960s.
This interactive map is a great place to explore changes to NYC’s shoreline over time.
Taming the Landscape
Midtown Manhattan is worth zooming into for a couple of reasons. First, the outline of Central Park is visible, although the park would officially be approved until almost 20 years later.
As well, this topographical map clearly shows the numerous outcroppings spread across the island. Manhattan was far from flat in the 1800s, and it took a tremendous amount of effort—starting with gunpowder, pickaxes, and horse-drawn carts—to level the land.
Looking at these historical maps is a reminder that the New York City we know today is the product of hundreds of years of human effort, and that cities continue to evolve over time.
Visualizing Two Decades of Reported Hate Crimes in the U.S.
Hate crimes across the U.S. have been on the rise since 2014. Here’s a look at the most common types of offenses over the years.
Visualizing Two Decades of Reported Hate Crimes in the U.S.
Across the U.S., thousands of hate crimes are committed each year, with many different motivating biases.
In 2020 alone, more than 10,000 unique hate crime incidents were reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—and it’s likely that thousands more were committed that didn’t get reported to law enforcement.
What are the most commonly reported motivating biases, and how have hate crime rates evolved over the years? This graphic uses data from the FBI to visualize two decades of reported hate crime incidents across America.
What is Considered a Hate Crime?
Before diving in, it’s important to determine what constitutes a hate crime.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a hate crime is a crime that’s “committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.”
These types of crimes are a threat to society, as they have a broader impact on communities than other types of crimes do. This is because hate crimes can foster fear and intimidate large groups of people or marginalized communities, making them feel unwelcome, unsafe, or othered.
Hate Crimes on the Rise
Hate crimes have been rising across the U.S. in nearly every year since 2014. By 2020, reported crimes across America reached record-level highs not seen in over two decades.
|Year||Number of Reported Incidents||% Change (y-o-y)|
And sadly, these figures are likely a vast undercount. Law enforcement submit this data to the FBI of their own volition, and in 2020, thousands of agencies did not submit their crime statistics.
Race-Related Hate Crimes are Most Common
Historically, the most reported hate crimes in the U.S. are related to race. In 2020, about 66% of incidents were motivated by discrimination against the victim’s race or ethnicity.
|Type of Bias||Total Number of Crimes (2020)||% of Total|
While race is the most commonly reported hate crime, incidents related to gender and gender identity are on the rise—in 2020, there was a 9% increase in gender-related incidents, and a 34% increase in gender identity-related incidents, compared to 2019 figures.
Visualizing the Relationship Between Cancer and Lifespan
New research links mutation rates and lifespan. We visualize the data supporting this new framework for understanding cancer.
A Newfound Link Between Cancer and Aging?
A new study in 2022 reveals a thought-provoking relationship between how long animals live and how quickly their genetic codes mutate.
Cancer is a product of time and mutations, and so researchers investigated its onset and impact within 16 unique mammals. A new perspective on DNA mutation broadens our understanding of aging and cancer development—and how we might be able to control it.
Mutations, Aging, and Cancer: A Primer
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is not a pathogen that infects the body, but a normal body process gone wrong.
Cells divide and multiply in our bodies all the time. Sometimes, during DNA replication, tiny mistakes (called mutations) appear randomly within the genetic code. Our bodies have mechanisms to correct these errors, and for much of our youth we remain strong and healthy as a result of these corrective measures.
However, these protections weaken as we age. Developing cancer becomes more likely as mutations slip past our defenses and continue to multiply. The longer we live, the more mutations we carry, and the likelihood of them manifesting into cancer increases.
A Biological Conundrum
Since mutations can occur randomly, biologists expect larger lifeforms (those with more cells) to have greater chances of developing cancer than smaller lifeforms.
Strangely, no association exists.
It is one of biology’s biggest mysteries as to why massive creatures like whales or elephants rarely seem to experience cancer. This is called Peto’s Paradox. Even stranger: some smaller creatures, like the naked mole rat, are completely resistant to cancer.
This phenomenon motivates researchers to look into the genetics of naked mole rats and whales. And while we’ve discovered that special genetic bonuses (like extra tumor-suppressing genes) benefit these creatures, a pattern for cancer rates across all other species is still poorly understood.
Cancer May Be Closely Associated with Lifespan
Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute report the first study to look at how mutation rates compare with animal lifespans.
Mutation rates are simply the speed at which species beget mutations. Mammals with shorter lifespans have average mutation rates that are very fast. A mouse undergoes nearly 800 mutations in each of its four short years on Earth. Mammals with longer lifespans have average mutation rates that are much slower. In humans (average lifespan of roughly 84 years), it comes to fewer than 50 mutations per year.
The study also compares the number of mutations at time of death with other traits, like body mass and lifespan. For example, a giraffe has roughly 40,000 times more cells than a mouse. Or a human lives 90 times longer than a mouse. What surprised researchers was that the number of mutations at time of death differed only by a factor of three.
Such small differentiation suggests there may be a total number of mutations a species can collect before it dies. Since the mammals reached this number at different speeds, finding ways to control the rate of mutations may help stall cancer development, set back aging, and prolong life.
The Future of Cancer Research
The findings in this study ignite new questions for understanding cancer.
Confirming that mutation rate and lifespan are strongly correlated needs comparison to lifeforms beyond mammals, like fishes, birds, and even plants.
It will also be necessary to understand what factors control mutation rates. The answer to this likely lies within the complexities of DNA. Geneticists and oncologists are continuing to investigate genetic curiosities like tumor-suppressing genes and how they might impact mutation rates.
Aging is likely to be a confluence of many issues, like epigenetic changes or telomere shortening, but if mutations are involved then there may be hopes of slowing genetic damage—or even reversing it.
While just a first step, linking mutation rates to lifespan is a reframing of our understanding of cancer development, and it may open doors to new strategies and therapies for treating cancer or taming the number of health-related concerns that come with aging.
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