Lake Michigan Unfurled

April 2015

Best of Category, 2015 CaGIS 43rd Map Design Competition

Featured in the Atlas of Design, Volume 3

Most Unique & President's Choice, WLIA 2016

What happens if you cut the shoreline of a lake and unfurl it? That's roughly what I did with this super-long map of Lake Michigan. I've got a detailed writeup on the process, as well as more detailed images (including Lake Superior, too!) on my blog.

Besides an opportunity to play around with a fun perspective, this is also a sentimental and personal project. I’ve lived almost the whole of my life on this map, in one part or another. Lake Michigan has been a dominant feature in my personal geography, and it anchors my understanding of my homeland. If I’d been raised in another context, out in the plains or along the ocean coasts, I don’t think I would ever have thought to do something like this. But, whether or not my upbringing figured in, this map makes perfect sense to me; it feels right. It also emphasizes just how far apart my current home (Madison, WI) seems from my former home (Kalamazoo, MI) when the only path between them involves driving around a vast expanse of water.

I created this vertical-scrolling version for ease of viewing on the web, but the “true” version is actually horizontal, oriented with the lake at the top, as though you were standing on shore looking outward.