MapCarte 141/365: Birds-eye view from Summit of Mt Washington by Boston and Maine Railroad, 1902

MapCarte141_birdseyePoint of interest signage often contain maps to give some context to the geographical features in an environment. We often see mountains, lakes and other prominent natural features illustrated and named. They sometimes take an elongated form that shows an aspect elevation. But the cartography of such signage often goes a little further and uses a ‘panneau’ technique. A panneau is form of panoramic view that contains a 360┬ádegree┬áhorizon projected on a flat plane in the form of a circle. They are typical in mountainous areas but can also be found in urban areas with a well known example situated at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

This fine example from the early 1900s illustrates the structure of a panneau which has a central part that corresponds to the closest point of observation – in this case the summit of Mt Washington. The main illustration is placed in a wide outer ring where the drawing depicts a 360 degree view of the surroundings. Panneau’s are usually oriented with north at the top and as in this example, typographic elements are right-reading when facing out from the central point of observation.


The approach is highly efficient and captures a considerable amount of detail in a relatively compact form. It gives an excellent mechanism to view each bearing which shows the landscape set out perfectly. This map also illustrates the cloud base often seen below the summit and, uniquely, is designed to show the route and ultimate destination of the cog railroad that ascends the mountain itself.

An intriguing and innovative solution to the depiction of a view around a central point of view, highly effective and a captivating approach to tourist mapping.