Friday, December 26, 2008

Second Traverse

Reporting in after a slushy traverse this afternoon. Better slush than bitter bitter cold. This time I took a still camera and recorded the traverse. The result, narrated after the fact, is here, or on YouTube at higher resolution here:

It was distancing from the experience to be recording it, which is useful to note. I was paying attention to timing the pictures, to holding the camera, to making sure the resolution was right. It's harder to dance the map when you're worried about fiddling with stuff, but then that's true with anything: worry makes work stiffer and more removed.

I chatted again with a couple of folks, again no-one knew the line was there. Perhaps because it isn't.

Later in the afternoon I found a PDF of the line in Minneapolis that was provided me by the city GIS office a couple years ago. Here is a raster version of the relevant bit:

If anyone wants the PDF version, let me know. I think this gives me what I need to start contacting residents and building owners.

Anyone want to join me in January for round 3?

Friday, November 28, 2008

First traverse

I walked the length of the traverse today, with no equipment, not camera, no maps... just to see how it went. I started about 2:20 at Central Ave and ended at the Mississippi River about 3:20.

From memory:
• 12th Ave from Central, crosses the railorad tracks by the Waterbury Building. To the north is the Purity Oats plant.
• Way is blocked by the Minneapolis Public Schools building (though there are back doors...). If you walk around the building you can see roughly where the parallel point on Quincy is.
• Both 12th, Jackson and Quincy all have distinctive red brick pavers.
• Crossing the parking lot west of Quincy, finding the garage from the alley for 1201 Monroe. If 12th Ave is the 45°line, then those addresses are pretty close. They're what I used as markers for most of the rest of this traverse.
• I went south to Broadway and back up the front of Monroe. Crossing Monroe at 1201, there's a convenient break in the parking lot hedge.
• The line in Logan Park appears to go through the wading pool, and now through the two ice rinks. These are mudrinks at the moment, so I walked around...
• The next several streets (Between Jefferson and University) have no convenient cross street. So, it's up the street, down the alley, up the street... I had two brief conversations with passers-by. One was intriwued (lived in 1205 Jefferson), and one looked like I must be off my meds, nodding and smiling. The streets vary widely in terms of condition of the houses, the race and apparent social class of the passersby. A very diverse neighborhood. I walked by my friends Margo and Demetri's houses, which was nice.
• The line seems to go though the playground equipment for Sheridan School, and through the back part of the school building (Cafeteria? Gym? never been inside).
• On the othe side of University from Sheridan School, 12th Ave resumes. GoogleMaps puts the line right through the houses facing 12th on the north side of the street. Again a WIDE range of housing, from early 20th-century apartment and frame buildings, to a late-vintage rambler and a side-by-side duplex (met the owner, Stan, who is a contractor).
• At the end of 12th at Main St, we cross the northern corner of the Northeast Bank property, and then a broad, barren space that was recently cleared for a condo project which subsequently was abandoned. It is now fenced and inaccessible.
• The line intersects with the street intersection of Marshall and 13th Ave. At Main, the street grid turns to run parallel to the river, so we are crossing the grid at a diagonal now. We are in the old Grain Belt Brewing complex. The line goes through the Bottling House and Warehouse buildings (and the rail line between them), then crosses the wide parking lot beyond, and reaches the new Sheridan Memorial Park, which has been bulldozed but not completed. There is riprap and banking in place as we reach the river...

My next trip in December will be with a GPS to more precisely record proprty and right-of-way crossing points.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We're Not Alone

There are other sites out there documenting both 45°N markers and the true half-way point by distance.

Steven Dutch from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay did this site about markers in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Roadside America did this article mostly on the same sites, and has links to directions for them, and also to this marker in Maine. More about that marker here.

As Ken Wedding pointed out on my other blog, The Degree Confluence Project seeks to document places of integer latitude and longitude.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Announcing the 45°NE Project

I'm embarking on an experiment.

I've been ruminating for a long time about how to express sense of place in maps (I'm a cartographer).

For a few years I've been thinking about how to channel experience of place into a form true both to the objectivity-seeking values of cartography and the personal-expression values of the fine arts (I was a studio arts major in college).

And I've been trying to think of a way to use the 45° N latitude line that runs a block and a half south of my office, right across the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.

After a thought provoking time at NACIS, I reached the conclusion that the way to open up that 45°N line to experience was through some combination of exploration (more mundanely, "fieldwork") and pilgrimage. In one, there is a specific subset of information one looks to gather; in the other, one is looking for an opening to (in religious terms) grace, the miraculous, the other... the unexpected.


I'm going to start regular monthly traverses of the line, beginning at Central Avenue, walking to the river. I'm going to record the results here. I hope to do the traverses with a variety of people, and in between to contact property owners to discuss with them how the line traverses their property.

Here's a crude GoogleMaps base of the traverse (the blue line shows the approximate actual line; the red shows my estimate of a walkable line on public right of way).

Anyone who wants to join me, drop me a line! Probably the easiest way is via my work email form. Or my cell phone (612-702-1333).