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    Aug 31, 2015

    You Say Denali

    Mount McKinley, as of today, is now Denali. It's an important change, one that honors local indigenous names and draws attention to the very real threat of climate change impacting that part of the world, so we're glad to see President Obama stepping up to the challenge and calling attention to Alaska as a kind of climate change ground zero.

    I'm proud to announce that our own Alan McConchie gets the bragging rights for having made the change on OpenStreetMap:

    It's great to see community mapping respond so quickly to important events in the world., ahead of the big boys:

    Apr 27, 2015


    Cross-posted from

    Two days ago a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) sprang into action, coordinating mapping activities from remote mappers (read about how you can help) and working with open source mapping groups on the ground like Kathmandu Living Labs.

    One of the key components in any HOT activation is the humanitarian OSM style, hosted by OpenStreetMap France.

    Unfortunately, the humanitarian style doesn’t include terrain data, which would be very useful when mapping in remote mountainous areas such as the Himalayan foothills that make up the hardest-hit area in this recent earthquake.

    Using the SRTM 90m hillshade overlay that is the first outcome of our Open Terrain project, we created a composite style that adds hillshades to the existing humanitarian style. We’re calling this style humaniterrain.

    You can access the style at this URL:

    The XYZ template (for use in any online mapping library or GIS) looks like this: http://{s}{z}/{x}/{y}.png

    This is a very rough attempt to get something useful up and running as fast as possible. Let us know if you have any questions, via email at or on twitter at @stamen.

    Feb 26, 2015

    Taking Up Space: The Largest Leaseholders in San Francisco

    by Eric

    Ever wondered what companies are taking up the most space in San Francisco? Kalin Kelly, a director at boutique real estate firm CM Commercial, has been wondering the same thing and decided to take action to find out.

    Over the past few months, she’s been collecting all of the data she can find about leasing transactions in San Francisco. What she’s found is that the biggest real estate deals happening in the city (in terms of space) are mainly being done with technology companies, and that the lion’s share of it is happening along Market Street and into the Mission and Dogpatch. She predicts that the trend will continue south into the Mission.

    Is her prediction correct? Only time will tell. In the meantime, take a look at the map and see for yourself and read more about it in TechCrunch.

    Stamen founder and creative director Eric Rodenbeck has worked with Kalin Kelly as part of his work with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST).

    Jan 13, 2015

    The Zachary Watson Memorial Education Fund

    by Eric

    Last year, our friend and colleague Zachary Watson tragically died in an accident at the age of 29, leaving many of us shocked and deeply saddened. In his memory and honor, a few current and former Stamens have set up an education fund. It's being administered by our friends and neighbors down the street at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts.

    Zach was a well-loved and much-respected member of our community, involved with and leading some of Stamen's most iconic work. He was a free and independent man, quirky and full of life, pursuing his varied interests with a fresh eye and a big smile. So in that spirit, each year on March 14 (Pi Day) one promising young creative coder will receive a $5,000 grant from Zach's fund to help further their education. The funds will be provided free and clear, and recipients may use the money for whatever they wish.

    You can donate to the fund if you like; we want to keep his memory alive through helping others like him. And if you'd like to apply, or know someone who would, please take a look here for directions.

    I saw a lot of myself in Zach. Among other things, we were both the kinds of young men that thought suits and mohawks went well together. He was a smart and talented and fun guy, and I miss him a lot.

    Donate or apply to the Zachary Watson Memorial Education Fund here.

    Dec 16, 2014

    Get a drink of open data with MapIsArt

    Just in time for your holiday gift buying rush, we're announcing today a new partnership with MapIsArt. They're a new company formed to take advantage of the increased availability and accuracy of OpenStreetMap data by offering custom map products based on our watercolor maps. We're starting off with a couple different custom products: canvas, table lamps, marble clocks, serving trays, and (drum roll please) table coasters, and there's more to come as things develop. But in the meantime, show your love for Stamen & OSM by heading over to MapIsArt for custom map goodies!

    Dec 1, 2014

    Introducing Positron & Dark Matter: New Basemap Styles for CartoDB

    By Beth & Seth

    Ready to make lovely maps using open source data on an open source platform? Two new basemap styles – Positron and Dark Matter – are available from mapping platform CartoDB, waiting for you to make your own beautiful visualizations.

    CartoDB already has a suite of styles to choose from, but some of the ones using OpenStreetMap data were only available at limited zoom levels. With our new styles, visualization possibilities await at all zooms, creating an opportunity for depth beyond what’s been possible before now.

    Throughout both maps we’ve made clear labeling for cities, parks, water bodies, and administrative boundaries. We’ve also worked out the relationships between line thickness and outlines for roads, railroads, rivers, and lakes across all zoom levels. Relative brightness of various features have been tweaked to create an appropriate hierarchy of importance at all zoom levels.

    And finally, we’ve given some extra special love to the CartoDB offices in Madrid and Brooklyn, and the Stamen office in San Francisco (only visible when you zoom all the way in).

    It’s been great working with CartoDB to make it easier for everyone to make data visualizations. Now we’re excited to see what you make with what we made together.

    Want to use these basemaps with Leaflet.js? Here's how:

    var layer = L.tileLayer('http://{s}{z}/{x}/{y}.png',{
      attribution: '© OpenStreetMap contributors, © CartoDB'
    var map ='map', {
        scrollWheelZoom: false,
        center: [40.7127837, -74.0059413],
        zoom: 6

    Let your data story sing!

    Nov 20, 2014

    Healthcare Variation: Location, Location, Location

    This week, the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF), a longtime Stamen client, released a completely redesigned and updated version of All Over the Map, a tool to help policymakers, health professionals, and concerned citizens discover variations in the prevalence of elective procedures across California.

    Why does such variation matter? Well, it turns out geography matters when it comes to whether or not a person gets a knee replacement or has a baby through induced labor. And location matters even when the data experts working with CHCF corrected for other factors, like age, race, socioeconomic status, and so on.

    Using this map, one can discover that, if you’re a pregnant woman in Gardenia, you are six times more likely to have an electively induced birth as if you lived in Napa.

    That’s a big difference!

    All Over the Map 2014 is the third version of this interface we’ve designed and built for CHCF, going back to 2011. The key change this year was, well, change. With two data periods available for many procedures, we had the opportunity to highlight not just outliers in one time period, but also how much certain areas have changed over time.

    For example, though Clearlake residents had the state’s highest rate of coronary angiography from 2005 to 2008, that rate dropped by 47% in 2009-12.

    Working closely with CHCF, we were able to create an interface that combines bold colors and simple bar charts with careful and refined interactions and subtle color gradations to bring beauty and subtlety to highly technical data. Color schemes and legends highlight outliers in the data, while thoroughly storing variables in the URL means that all states of the map are easily shareable.

    How does your home region fare on the map? Find out!

    Nov 13, 2014

    The Urbanist: Urban Cartography at SPUR

    It's no secret that the field of cartography has been going through some pretty serious change lately, and that a lot of this change is happening because of work being done here in the Bay Area. San Francisco-based nonprofit think tank SPUR has been tracking developments in the field and doing a lot to get the word out: their current Urban Cartography exhibit is in the pages of Dwell, San Francisco Magazine, and Curbed. We received our copies of the magazine that accompanies the exhibit today. It's great to see the iconic work that Eric Fischer does alongside our own City from the Valley map, Andreas' summer fellowship, and Alan's OpenStreetMap work.

    The exhibit is up through February 2015, so there's plenty of time to pay it a visit.

    Sep 3, 2014

    Announcing a new Stamen partner


    SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 3, 2014 — Stamen Design, known for award-winning design in the field of data visualization and its beautiful and technologically sophisticated mapping projects—laid out its plan today to service the expanding frontier of communications for big data. The San Francisco-based firm announced Jon Christensen as a partner and strategic adviser. Christensen, a veteran journalist (New York Times, High Country News, LA Observed), editor (Boom: A Journal of California), and academic (Stanford, UCLA) is opening a Los Angeles office for Stamen. He will provide an infusion of capital for the company to invest in product development as well as strategic guidance and relationships for expanding business in a range of areas where his own career has developed, including environmental, scientific, journalism, mass media, cultural, museum, library, and educational markets.

    The announcement is the latest step in a series of collaborations between Stamen Design and Christensen. As a result of the new partnership, the fortified Stamen has released and is currently developing several new public data visualization projects, including charting the impact of sea level rise on communities nationwide with Climate Central, exploring water quality and quantity risks along with opportunities for conservation in cities worldwide with The Nature Conservancy, helping San Francisco Bay Area museums publicly share data about their collections, and creating new open data and open mapping tools for the Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge. Additionally, Stamen will use new capital to develop spin-off products and services that flow naturally out of these client projects and can be used by multiple customers to meet their mapping and data visualization needs in commercial, nonprofit, and academic markets.

    Eric Rodenbeck, Founder, CEO & Creative Director of Stamen, stated: “With open data, Stamen found an opportunity to connect its experimental and commercial projects to become a leading brand in this field. With Jon’s help, Stamen is poised to substantially expand its reach in commercial, nonprofit, and educational markets. Together, our data visualization tools will drive news, create dialogues, provide key intelligence, influence decisions, and identify potential solutions for the challenges facing our most important natural and cultural resources. We announce Jon’s partnership, our new Los Angeles office, and our future work together with great enthusiasm, having found in him the partner who can extend our reach while confirming and enhancing all of Stamen’s existing strengths.”

    “I am thrilled to be joining Stamen Design as a partner and am tremendously excited to head the company’s Los Angeles office,” Christensen said. “I’ve followed Stamen’s work closely over the years as a researcher, historian, journalist, educator, and curator of public projects. Data visualization, digital mapping, and interactive storytelling are becoming increasingly important in these areas. Stamen is the place you go when you’re ready to get serious about communicating with your data, and I’m excited to see our clients come to us with questions about the use of visualization across the spectrum from history to science, finance to logistics. It’s great to be at the forward edge of discovering what’s possible with mapping and data, and I’m looking forward to helping Stamen continue to thrive there.”

    About Jon Christensen
    Jon Christensen has been an environmental journalist and science writer for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Nature, the San Francisco Chronicle, High Country News, and many other newspapers, magazines, journals, and radio and television shows. He is the editor of Boom: A Journal of California, a quarterly magazine published by the University of California Press that brings scholars, researchers, writers, artists, policymakers, and the public into common conversations about California in the world; and a regular columnist at LA Observed. He is an adjunct assistant professor, journalist-in-residence, and senior fellow in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, the Department of History, the Center for Digital Humanities, and cityLAB at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to UCLA, Jon served as executive director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, an interdisciplinary center for research, teaching, new media, and journalism at Stanford University. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford in 2002-2003 and serves as a trustee on the board of the California Historical Society.

    About Stamen
    Since 2001, Stamen Design has led the field of interactive mapping and data visualization. The studio builds beautiful, technically sophisticated projects for a diverse set of clients. Stamen combines strong creative strategy, design, engineering and software development. The studio complements the expertise of its clients through collaborations that bring to life a wide range of compelling interactive mapping and data visualization projects. Stamen’s interests, process and disciplines apply across a wide swath of industries and project types. The work ranges from elegant and utilitarian maps to entertaining data visualizations for MTV and artistic and evocative works in MOMA. Stamen designs with real data, not ideas of what data could or should be. The studio designs and builds dozens of custom projects a year, many of them pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology. Stamen also participates in many of the communities that develop and support open data and open source software. This keeps the studio’s design and technical capabilities broad and deep, and helps provide the best sustainable solutions for clients.

    Stamen South, open for business:

    Official press release on Marketwired

    Aug 16, 2014

    Farewell, Zach Watson

    Two weeks ago, we were horrified to learn that our friend and Stamen alum Zach Watson was fighting for his life after having been the victim of a car crash that injured six people in the Tenderloin. He's been in critical condition since then.

    I'm so very sorry to have to tell you that Zach passed away this afternoon. The doctors determined a few days ago that his coma would be permanent, and he was taken off of life support at 3:14pm.

    It's appropriate that he would leave us then, right at the number pi. I personally knew the side of him that was deeply involved with math, having worked with him on so many wonderful projects while he was at Stamen. I had second hand knowledge of the other side of him, the part that was perhaps even more deeply involved with food, and dancing, and embracing life. He was a smart interesting curious man, quick to laughter and very much on his own path. The work he did with me and Stamen is some of the work that I'm proudest of in my life. I was thrilled for him when he decided to continue his career after Stamen at the Exploratorium, and I'm sorry not to have seen more of the work he did there. Today the world lost a great artist and thinker and bon vivant.

    He was 29 years old. I miss him dearly.

    Sail on, Dr. Watson. We love you.

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