Do you love maps? If so, you may want to look into a career as a cartographer, which is someone who enjoys cartography, or the study and practice of making maps.

The first maps were made by hand, by painting on parchment paper. As you can imagine, trying to draw the exact same map over and over was very difficult.

This meant early maps varied in quality. The amount of time and energy it took to create just one map also meant there weren’t many maps produced.

Over time, improvements in tools and technology helped cartographers refine their skills and produce better maps. For example, the invention of the magnetic compass allowed cartographers to improve map quality and accuracy. The invention of the printing press eventually led to the mass production of maps, which meant that if one very accurate map could be created, many copies of the same map could be made.

Today, cartographers make most modern maps with computers using specialized mapping software. One very interesting type of modern map is the Google Street View map, which allows users to pick a point on the map and view the location as if they were standing right there! These panoramic maps are made using new and exciting types of technology.

The images you see on a Google Street View map are taken by cameras mounted on special cars. Each vehicle carries nine cameras that together take a 360-degree “full circle” picture of an area.

Advanced software then electronically “glues” the photographs together, creating a seamless view of a location. This makes it possible for you to sit in your living room and take a virtual walk through your town, New York City or even another continent!

Google Street View also uses "Google Trike" (tricycle) and snowmobiles to take photos of walkways, paths and alleys where cars will not fit.

 

Wonder What's Next?

Getting impatient for the next wonder? Hold your horses! Giddyap back to Wonderopolis tomorrow — we’ve got something dreamy planned!