Another wonderful piece by Simon Jenkins in the Observer, on London's maps. Unfortunately the web version doesn't come with the fine pictures.
One of the most striking pictures for me was the Rhinebeck panorama - a view of the City in about 1810. What's lovely is the way the view is dominated by the spires of the City churches, soaring above the grid like streets of plain houses; now, with the gherkin, the Shard, and other skyscrapers being built, that view has gone for ever. (In fact, though, it's not really the new generation of high buildings which are destroying the City's skyline - it had already been done by an increase in the overall height of buildings over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In a way, the Gherkin and its peers are reviving the idea of a view dominated by towers - they are the new spires.)
The geological map of the Thames basin gives you a completely different feeling for place. It's like seeing a dissected body - what lies beneath the skin - and it gives the same sense of shock. The loops of the meandering Thames are instantly recognisable, but the greens and pinks and blues of the geological strata are strange, unknown.
Of course we make maps not only to represent reality, but to organise it in our minds. So I was interested to see the 1908 tube map - one which shows the underground railway lines as they really lie, not in a tidied up, regularised way like the current map. The District Line wiggles between Earls Court and West Brompton (and Fulham Broadway is shown as 'Walham Green'); the eastern end of the railway system is all squished up, coming to a point at Aldgate, with Moorgate and Liverpool Street all crushed up together; and the colours are wrong - the Central Line (now red) is purply blue, the Metropolitan is red instead.
We hit the twenty-first century with a house price heat map from myhouseprice.com - hot red areas of privilege in the west of London and in the suburbs, and dark cold blue in the eastern corridor where prices are low. Mind you, since the prices only appear to run up to one and a half million, this map has to be several years old....