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The Most Common U.S. Street Name Is Second. The 2nd Most Common Name Is Third. The 3rd Most Common Name Is First.

Annually, National Read a Road Map Day on April 5th challenges us to test our skills.

  • The earliest road map, Britania Atlas, was drawn by cartographer John Ogilby in 1675.
  • In the past, cartographers had limited resources and unsurprisingly made mistakes when drawing maps. For example, in 1798, the first map of Africa featured the massive Mountains of Kong. The only problem was they didn’t exist. Even so, the Mountains of Kong would be placed on maps of Africa for the next 100 years.
  • modern mapmakers often incorporate fake towns into their maps on purpose. These are known as “paper towns”, “phantom settlements,” or (for some reason) “bunnies.” The thinking behind this is that if the cartographer comes across another map with the same fake town, they know it is a copy!
  • The map that’s familiar to most of us is the Mercator projection, it’s been a fixture in classrooms and world atlases for nearly 500 years. It is also, as you might expect, full of inaccuracies.
  • North may be at the top of maps today, but that wasn’t always the case. During the middle ages, most Western maps put east at the top instead.
  • In Latin, the word for east is “oriens”, so to hold the map correctly, you had to “orient” it—that is, make sure East was on top. This is where we get the word “orientation” today.
  • The first map to use the name “America” was created by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in 1507.
  • In 44 CE, ancient Roman thinker Pliny the Elder wrote that every creature on land has a counterpart in the ocean. Because of that, ancient mapmakers would draw sea monsters on their maps to look like aquatic versions of familiar land animals: sea
    cows, sea serpents, sea pigs, marine pig-dogs, etc. If you’ve ever seen a sea lion or a seahorse, this is how they got their names!
  • The oldest globe on record dates back to around 1,500 and is carved on the surface of an ostrich egg.  It’s also the first time the phrase “here be dragons” appears on a map.
  • The oldest known map is not of the Earth but of the stars. In 2000, a map of the night sky was discovered in one of the caves in the cave complex at Lascaux, France and is believed to be more than 16,500 years old.
  • Map censorship or cartographic censorship is a real thing. Governments prohibit the publishing of maps with locations of military installations, security bases, communication towers, and defense installations. Satellite imagery has rendered such censorship less effective, but still, governments continue to practice it to protect national interests.
  • Current maps do not include old Route 66. The last stretch of the road disappeared from “official” maps in 1985.
  • Route 66 crosses 8 states and 3 time zones. The states that the Mother Road runs through are: IllinoisMissouriKansasOklahomaTexasNew MexicoArizona, and California.
  • Because of a change in the alignment of Route 66 in 1937, there is an intersection where Route 66 crosses itself at Central Avenue and 4th Street in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here, you can stand on the corner of Route 66 and Route 66.
  • The last original Route 66 road sign was taken down in Chicago on January 17, 1977.
  • According to the National League of Cities, the most common U.S. street name is Second. The 2nd most common name is Third. The 3rd most common name is First.


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