Book Review: The Parks, Gardens etc. of London and its Suburbs

The Parks, Gardens, Etc., of London and Its Suburbs, Described and Illustrated for the Guidance of Strangers was written in 1923 by Edward Kamp. The book was recently reprinted, and while much of the information is out of date, the illustrated maps and drawings in it are timeless and still as appealing today as they were 90 years ago.
The book is considered to be a culturally important work, and will be of interest to Britons as well as people who appreciate English culture and architecture. Historians will enjoy seeing how the landscape has changed, and comparing the surviving gardens as they are today to the ones from the early 20th century.

Illustrated gardens London

Illustrated gardens London


Because of the sheer number of illustrations in this book, it is not currently available in Kindle format, although that may change now that the Kindle Fire is becoming popular. The re-released edition of the book from 2010 is paperback format, and is a faithful reproduction, not a poor quality OCR scan.
Kemp published many books about landscape gardening, as well as design for large estates and smaller suburban properties. He was a prolific author and his books were known for their detail, quality instructions and fine presentation. Most of Kemps other books were not illustrated, but this one provides a great insight into early 20th century London, and how it recovered from World War 1.
If you have a love for gardening, or simply appreciate classical illustrations then this book is well worth a look. If you can find one of the early 1920s prints of the title, you should look after it carefully because it is highly collectible.
Quality illustrated parks and gardens books are hard to find today, with photographers moving most of their work online. To see such a beautiful book produced so long ago is incredibly impressive.

Illustrator Profile: John Roman

illustrated campus maps, as well as museum and trail maps and marketing maps. He has produced illustrated maps for a huge range of universities, including the University of Houston, Fairfield University, Pepperdine University, and Oakland University.
He has also created illustations for the Norman Rockwell Museum, Drumlin Farm Park and Trails, the Cotton Mill Museum, and the Audubon Society Education Center. Perhaps his most interesting work is an 1800s style bird’s-eye lithograph style illustrated map of Thoreau’s place and time, which he created with the support of the Thoreau Society, using archives from the Henley Library.
Roman’s background is in technical drawing and architectural art. He graduated from the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University. Roman is an award winning artist, and has received accolades from the New York Society of Illustrators, the Boston Society of Technical Communications and the American Society of Architectural Illustrators and Communication Arts, as well as many other artistic groups.
Roman’s maps are easily recognizable because of their bold, clear style. He uses 3D buildings on 2D terrain, and mixes strong colours with pastel shades to make sure that the most important parts of the map stand out. He uses perspective well to make sure that everything on the map can be clearly identified, and while he takes some small liberties with scale h is maps are clear and easy to read.
His marketing maps are some of the best that have been produced in recent years. They offer a clear idea of the location of the places they are advertising, as well as an insight into what else is available in the city or state. His map of Mansfield University identifies nearby hospitals, malls, and tourist attractions, as well as routes to other states.

The Apple Maps Disaster

If you’re a fan of cartography, then the launch of Apple Maps on the new iPhone must have given you a fair few laughs. Apple removed Google Maps from iOS devices during the second half of 2012, and users waited impatiently for a substitute. When Apple Maps finally arrived, it was not what users expected.

Apple Maps

Apple Maps


On release, Apple Maps was full of strange bugs and errors. Among the alleged mistakes, Shapespeare’s birthplace was missing, Australian travelers would have their routes direct them to a national park rather than their actual destination, and, in a strange act of diplomacy, the Senkaku islands were duplicated – one set being Chinese, and the other set being Japanese. Since the political situation of those islands is blurry, that’s an interesting solution to the problem, but hardly one that helps people needing directions. Even Transport For London mocked the Apple Maps situation.
Apple maps is back in the app store now. Apple seem resigned to the thought that it will take a long time to fix the issues with its mapping software. They’re probably going to have to crowd-source a lot of data, especially for major city routes, in order to get their software up to the level of Google’s. The question is, will they be able to do this, or will the software never gain enough traction with users to get the crowd-sourcing off the ground?
Map makers or web designers have never had it easy. The early map makers lovingly created their map illustrations, filling in unknown areas with “Here there be dragons”, or descriptions of the known places nearby. That sort of thing isn’t acceptable today, though. We expect our GPS to be accurate to within a few meters. We’re missing out on something now that we don’t have to pour over illustrated maps and hand-crafted globes. Perhaps the art of folding paper maps back to their original shape is going to be lost in favor of tapping and prodding at a screen. If so, that’s a sad thing to think about.

Is This The End of Cartographer’s Gaffes?

Today, we are accustomed to our maps being perfectly accurate. If you want directions somewhere, simply pull up Google or Bing Maps, and they will be able to give you turn by turn directions to your destination. Sometimes the maps are a little out of date – if your destination is a newly constructed building, or there have been some major changes to the road system then you might be in for a nasty surprise, but those instances are rare and usually only a minor inconvenience. It’s not like Google is telling you that there’s an invisible mountain range in landscape in front of you, or anything so extreme. It hasn’t always been that way.

Classical Cartography Map

Classical Cartography Map


When Greek scholars decided to try to put together a huge map of the world, they decided that the world was sort-of round. This was a groundbreaking idea at the time, and it’s impressive that they got this right considering the tools they had available at the time. They even managed to identify three continents, the ones that we today call Europe, Africa and Asia. There were many omissions, however.
While most cartographers were happy to simply leave unknown areas blank, some chose to fill in maps based on stories, guess work, or religious warnings. Some maps made during the 11th century included references to Paradise, Hell, and mythological creatures. These illustrated maps were popular in churches, and achieved a lot in terms of religious instruction, but did little to expand the general population’s understanding of the world at large.
Deliberate guesses or artistic insertions are one thing, but perhaps the most interesting “gaffe” is the creation of the Mountains of Kong. These mountains were supposed to be in Africa. They were “discovered” by James Rennell in 1798, and were duplicated on maps made by other cartographers for almost 100 years until it was discovered that they did not actually exist.
Many other cartographers have created their own small imperfections or hidden additions, a sort of hallmark on their work. Today, those hallmarks are easily discovered, and most navigation software, naturally, aims for 100% accuracy. It’s unfortunate, but it seems that cartographers have had their fun.