The largest project with MapStory will be a single mapstory of mapstories, called “MapStory Local”. Think of Google Maps or openstreetmap, but where you can type in a year, say “1900″, and see the way the world was then, and animate it. It will be yet another major way that will transform the way people see the world. And this will only be the beginning – we are also looking to establish “MapStory Life”, all of the world’s biodiversity and conservation, “MapStory Peoples”, all of the world’s peoples, and “MapStory Languages”, mapping all the world’s languages over time.




Ames, Iowa 1859-2012, 13 seconds
MapStory Local is starting with Ames, Iowa, which can be viewed in the first video below.
To see it within MapStory, click here:


The Precise Settlement of Iowa (Land Patents, 1840-1880), 10 seconds
This shows the first time land was purchased in the state of Iowa. This will be done for 30 states that were settled similarly.
Read more in the blog article.
To see within MapStory:


US State and County Boundaries, 1629-2000, 29 seconds
There are many datasets that will be merged, such as this one from the Newberry Library in

To see within MapStory:


Natives of North America
While the map above shows the expansion of United States boundaries, it does not balance the fact that there were people before. This is a map I produced from tracing a National Geographic map. It will need to be made more accurate and temporalized, merging with the expansion of the United States.
Read more in the blog article.
Click the map to open and zoom in, and use opacity slider in upper-left.



A Piece of the Largest Family Tree, 1600-2010
The largest family tree in the world has around 100 million people. This is 10,000 people randomly selected from it, from 1600-2010. Each moving dot starts where a parent was born and ends where a child was born. Each dot that pops up is a child’s birth.
Read more in the blog article.
See using CartoDB (zoom in and out and use time slider in lower-left).
We are also mapping people and places through other means; one project is to map all of Ames’ people and businesses through time using its city directories.


Old Growth Forests, United States, 1620-1990
We will merge how the humans interact with the non-human landscape as well. This is just a simulation using four images dissolving over time.


The Indian Subcontinent, 1700-2010
And just in case you thought this was US or Western-centric. Here is a mapstory of the Indian Subcontinent. We will be doing the whole world, I’m just focusing on where I live on all levels.
Read more in the blog article.
To see within MapStory:




Users, or “storytellers” will upload vast numbers of historical maps, and rubbersheet them. This is where you stretch a flat map, which has many distortions, over a digital surface (see examples below). Once you have a rubbersheeted map, you can draw over it, and create a digital image of what an area looked like at the time. People all over the world will, like with Wikipedia and openstreetmap, crowdsource the digitization and uploading of maps, and their rubbersheeting and drawing. Working backwards using existing maps, storytellers will add and subtract features as they existed before.

I’m creating a mapstory of Ames, Iowa, the town I live in, which will be the test case of the launch of MapStory Local. It will in the long run include every historical map, and every road and building and land uses for which there is a record of. This will primarily use data from the City Assessor, and digitized maps. In the long run the details will be refined using more resources, such as phonebooks, with which we can find how far a road stretched at a given time, and the residents and businesses that existed at every address.

The map on the right was rubbersheeted over a digital map, which is shown here in Google Earth, with the roads that were drawn over, in red. See the original map at the Ames Historical Society site.



Overview Video of MapStory Local

Watch the following overview on MapStory Local (a container was used to preserve the original quality).
- You may also download the video.
- Feel free to download the Google Earth file for the Ames, Iowa MapStory:
– Ames Project (does not include overlays), 9MB:
— You may need to read the instructions for using the file
– Ames Images (includes overlays, etc), 157MB: