The Ghost Map

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson is a historical account of the terrifying outbreak of cholera in the summer of 1854 in London and how a pair of interdisciplinary thinkers worked to find a solution to the deadly problem.

By the mid-nineteenth century, London had emerged as one of the first truly modern cities, but it severely lacked necessary sanitation services, including garbage removal, clean water, and sewers, becoming a breeding ground for an outbreak of a rapidly-spreading disease.

As the cholera outbreak spreads, it is up to Dr. John Snow and Reverend Henry Whitehead to use their knowledge of the disease and the city to map the pandemic and its cause, find its widespread implications and, ultimately, discover the intervention that stopped the devastating spread of the disease.

The Ghost Map is a riveting historical illustration of the intertwined histories of cholera, cities, and modern scientific inquiry. Yet the ideas and lessons in The Ghost Map are not simply about the nineteenth-century but also our own contemporary "wicked problems" from urban sprawl to bio-terrorism and much more.

Ghostmapping: A Public Lecture Series

This lecture series draws upon the collective knowledge of the campus community to help everyone understand more the issues raised in Johnson’s book, "The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World." All events are free and open to the public.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 7 pm | Leadership Studies, McVay Family Town Hall

"What's so important about cities?" presented by Dr. Huston Gibson

What are the connections between the “The Ghost Map” and city planning? This lecture will discuss why cities are important; particularly exploring some of the main opportunities and challenges facing cities today – how and why they developed, how they are organized, and their primary functions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 7 pm | Leadership Studies, McVay Family Town Hall

"Mapping Manhattan: Using maps to reveal secrets in our community" presented by Dr. Katherine Nesse

Mapping revealed the likely center of the cholera epidemic in the mid-nineteenth century. Our more sophisticated mapping technology can reveal other hidden truths about our community today. This lecture will present maps about bicycling, food access, business development and we will discuss what we should do with this information.

The Ghost Map Book cover

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