Mapping Our Past - 2020

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Mapping Our Past will have you thinking about our past, present and future! With National Geographic’s director of cartographic databases leading us through its 132-year history of maps at National Geographic to the changing shape of Florida to how architecture and building attitudes impact Jacksonville and our quality of life, you’ll see the indispensable role maps play in history.

Mapping Our Past
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Ansbacher Map Room, 4th Floor, Main Library


#1 p.m. - Mapping Jax presented by Steve Williams, Urban Advocate for Smart Development.

Steve Williams, Mapping Jax, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Development, Urban Advocate, Harbinger Signs, MappingJax, Downtown Jacksonville

Mapping Jax's vision is to inspire, preserve, educate, and advocate for our city's natural and built environments. This involvement will uplift a community and create an atmosphere that reflects our unique history, natural and cultural attributes while championing quality, sustainable, and appropriate downtown development that upholds Jacksonville’s identity. Mapping Jax’s mission is to support the revitalization of Downtown Jacksonville as the vibrant center of the metropolitan area for the benefit of all citizens by encouraging proven urban revitalization strategies; the preservation of existing architecture; smart planning and development; creative solutions; world-class, high quality design at all levels; street-level activation and mobility; mining story from history and the arts; and uniting the community in support of the success of our city.

Steve Williams is well known throughout Jacksonville as the CEO of Harbinger Sign, the owner of Florida Mining Gallery, and a hard-core advocate of the arts and development in the urban core. More recently, he has tried his hand as a developer in Riverside’s booming Five Points district. His first project restored the much loved but deteriorating former Peterson’s Five and Dime Building into the popular Hoptinger Bier Garden and rooftop bar, while his second turned a former deli into Bread & Board.

Check out our interview with Steve Williams on Completely Booked below:



#2 p.m. - Cartographic Expansion and Contraction presented by Peter Cowdrey, Florida Map Expert

Peter Cowdrey, Mapping Our Past, A History of Florida Through New World Maps, Borders of Paradise, Florida History, Jacksonville Public LibraryBy examining maps, you can see the evolving perceptions of La Florida, the land whose name was bestowed on our shores more than 500 years ago by Juan ponce de Leon. As cartographers wrangled with the geographic status of Florida—whether island or peninsula, whether located in Asia or America—slowly the name Florida began to be applied to land in North America as far north as Virginia and as far west as Texas. This was Florida’s expansion phase. But as other nations began to establish claims in the present-day Carolinas and Virginia, Florida entered into its long, slow process of territorial contraction. This cartographic shrinking continued until 1821 when Florida reached its present boundaries. Hear how the threat of rising seawater that is eroding our beaches and coastal plains still further, presents additional challenges to future generations of Floridians.

Peter A. Cowdrey, Jr., is a native Floridian, born in Clearwater and raised in Jacksonville Beach. For a time he and his family were residents on a 63 foot topsail schooner, Comrade. It was there and during later employment in surveying that he developed his love of maps. He is a graduate of Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville (1964), the University of South Florida in Tampa (1973), and Florida state University in Tallahassee (1977). He holds a master’s degree in history, is a retired teacher from Leon County Schools in Tallahassee, and continues to serve as volunteer Educator-in-Residence at the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee.



#3 p.m. - Tracing History: 132 Years of Maps and Cartography at National Geographic presented by Ted Sickley, Director of Cartographic Databases

Ted Sickley, National Geographic, Tracing History, Cartographic Databases, National Geographic map historyJourney beyond your imagination as National Geographic’s Director of Cartographic Databases, Ted Sickley, traces the 132-year history of maps and cartography of National Geographic. National Geographic has been mapping the world since its inception in 1888. The very first edition of National Geographic magazine included large pullout maps, while photographs did not appear for several years. To this day, the subscription magazines still contain additional map supplements. The presentation will trace the history of maps and cartography at National Geographic through 132 years of bringing the world to its readers. National Geographic’s maps have surveyed the entire globe and beyond, so prepare yourself to explore unknown lands, landscapes, cityscapes and celestial charts.

Ted Sickley is the Director of Cartographic Databases for National Geographic. His team is responsible for illustrating the world around us through the art and science of mapmaking. Today, National Geographic Maps continues this mission by creating the world’s best wall maps, outdoor recreation maps, travel maps, atlases and globes that inspire people to care about and explore their world. He holds a master's degree in Earth Sciences from the University of New Hampshire and currently resides in Washington D.C.



#Dig Deeper!

National Geographic, Novembe 2019, Mapping Our Past, Jacksonville Public LibraryCheck out National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler online. You can read them cover to cover every month—free—with RB Digital at the library. Click for additional help to get started. All you need is your library card account and PIN.

You can also see the Lewis Ansbacher Map Collection, with more than 240 antiquarian maps and 47 engravings, in person in the Morris Ansbacher Map Room (Main Library, fourth floor), or browse the entire collection online.



Accommodations for persons with disabilities are available upon request. Please ask for the Special Needs Library at 630-2665 or email

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