How Big Is It?: From Environmental Disasters to Mardi Gras


The BBC has recently launched an experimental web project called Dimensions, which allows users to overlay ancient cities, famous festivals, and environmental disasters over modern maps to get a sense of scale. The site can be used to try to better understand the impact of both catastrophes, like the flooding in Pakistan, and everyday occurrences, like the growth of urban spaces. It’s also a great way to kill a good half hour of time. Click through for some of our favorite maps.

The BBC estimates the average size of a slave plantation in the 1800s between 500 and 1,000 acres. The gray area above represents 1,000 acres, only slightly bigger than New York’s Central Park, which is 843 acres.

The culmination of Mardi Gras celebrations, the Fat Tuesday parade second lines its way down the streets of New Orleans to celebrate the start of lent. We couldn’t help fantasize what the route would look like over the Las Vegas strip. It looks to be about the right length…

An Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit a reef near the Alaskan coast in 1989, eventually spilling 11 million US gallons of crude oil. Here’s the spill over the Miami coast.

This past July massive flooding occurred in Pakistan, affecting nearly 20 million people. Perhaps the most astonishing graphic we found, it shows the flood submerging most of the US’s eastern seaboard.

The Tora Bora caves are a system of tunnels and caves in Afghanistan and a suspected hiding place of Osama Bin Laden. As you can see here they cover more ground than London’s Underground.