Dutch River Flooding 1740-41 – Carto/ArcGIS Online/Mapbox

For some time, I’ve been trying to find good workarounds to host and display geotiffs of historical maps. There are a number of options available, from Neatline/Omeka to Google Earth, to Maptiler/google hosting, to arcgis online. Unfortunately, most have significant disadvantages. Google Earth will display the geotiff as a background, but there is limited interactivity with vector data. Maptiler requires a paid account to remove its watermark and the google hosting option will likely disappear as an option this year. ArcGIS online requires access to an arc server. Depending on the size of the project, Neatline/Omeka is a good option if you have the space to host it on your own server, but its installation is not particularly user-friendly. The most intuitive option I’ve found thus far has been Mapbox. An online map styling platform that offers a GB of hosting space for free accounts, Mapbox provides a user-friendly GUI (much improved from the TillMill/Maptiler classic, though with more limited raster manipulation options) and easy integration of your Geotiff basemaps with ArcGIS Online, CartoDB, Leaflet, or simply hosting static images on your own website. Naturally, I’m sure there are a number of additional options and I’m very interested to hear suggestions and/or see examples using different methods/platforms.

Below, I’ve attached two options using a small dataset that visualizes dike breaches throughout the Rijn/Maas river region of the Netherlands during the catastrophic floodings between Dec 1740 and Jan 1741. The first is an animated “torque” map that highlights the location and timing of dike breaches. The second in Arc Online is an interactive, albeit static map that features additional information about the dike breaches (location, time of day, source of information, and the regions the breach threatened).

One issue I’ve noticed with this hosting option is that higher zoom levels distort the historic basemap. As you zoom in, the basemap resolves more clearly. I have yet to find a work around for this issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *