How Atlantic City inspired the Monopoly board

The popular game has a backstory rife with segregation, inequality, intellectual theft, and outlandish political theories.

One of Atlantic City's nicknames is 'Monopoly City'. A look at this map shows why.

Credit: Davis DeBard, with kind permission.
  • The streets on a classic Monopoly board were lifted from Atlantic City.
  • Here's what it looks like if we transport those places back onto a map.
  • Monopoly started out as its opposite: a game explaining the evil of monopolies.
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Is this Danish island soon coming to a coast near you?

An artificial island in the North Sea is the biggest building project ever in Danish history - and could pave the way for many more.

'Energy Island' as it may well look like in 2033.

  • In 1991, Denmark constructed the world's first offshore wind farm.
  • Now they're building an entire 'Energy Island' in the North Sea.
  • As the U.S. catches up, Danish know-how could soon come to America.
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What a carve-up: when French and British ruled the world

James Gillray's 'plumb-pudding' caricature is "probably the most famous political cartoon of all time."

William Pitt and Napoleon Bonaparte, carving up the world between them.

Credit: Public domain, via the British Library
  • The fight for world dominance always seems to involve a contest between two superpowers.
  • Back in 1805, it was the British versus the French, and this cartoon pokes fun at both.
  • Pitt and Napoleon are carving out the big slices of the world-pudding – an image endlessly copied since.
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In this Dutch town, the euro’s fictional bridges are now real

The European currency features buildings that didn't exist, until Spijkenisse made them in concrete

Frankfurt may be the Eurozone's financial capital, Spijkenisse is where you can walk through the money.

Credit: Google Maps, ECB (Graphics: Ruland Kolen)
Strange Maps
  • The euro banknotes feature seven different bridges – all of them fictional.
  • They represent periods instead of places, so as not to offend anyone.
  • But one Dutch town has turned monetary fiction into monumental fact.
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Mystery unsolved: ghost ships circling off California

Circle spoofing is an advanced form of GPS manipulation – but nobody knows exactly how, or why.

Not really there – and not moving in circles: 'ghost ship' patterns off the coast of northern California.

Credit: Courtesy of SkyTruth/Global Fishing Watch/Orbcomm/Spire
Strange Maps
  • 'Circle spoofing' is an as-yet unexplained version of GPS interference.
  • It shows ships moving in virtual circles while they're somewhere else.
  • Is this the cheaper, off the shelf version of a well-known cyberweapon?
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This map of Europe is good for only one thing

Topologists can't tell donuts from coffee mugs, but their maps are revelatory nonetheless.

The countries on this topological map are bent out of shape and size, but it does show precisely who borders whom.

Credit: © Peter Staub, Mollis GL/Switzerland – CC BY SA
Strange Maps
  • Topology is a relatively young branch of mathematics, with various branches of its own.
  • It has applications in biology, computer science, string theory, and yes, also cartography.
  • This topologist's map of Europe is not a true reflection of area or size, only of the relationships between countries.

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