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App shows your position on map from 1572

Nelson Ferraz got the cool idea to create an iPhone app that locates your position on a 16th-century map of Amsterdam. Matching the gps coordinates to the hand-drawn map proved to be a bit of a challenge.

In an email, Ferraz explains how he got the idea for the app. “I’m Brazilian, living in Amsterdam. Being an expat, I’m very curious about the city and its history. When I saw this map, I thought it would be fun to compare it with the current city; and the interesting thing is that the centre of Amsterdam hasn’t changed a lot in the last 440 years!”

Ferraz used a map by Georg Braun, a catholic cleric and map maker who created a series of city maps. Why use this particular map? “I saw older maps, which were not as detailed as this one; and more recent ones, which were quite accurate, but didn't have the same charm”, Ferraz explains, adding that he is open to suggestions for other maps.

Using a map from 1572 posed some technical challenges. “The difficult part is to match the gps coordinates with a hand-drawn map. I noticed that the size of some regions was exaggerated, probably to highlight places of interest,
like the Dam, the Oude Kerk, etcetera.” Because of the distortion, the app does not pinpoint your exact location on the map.

Download the app here (free). Image from Wikimedia / Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

26 January 2012 |