An Infamous Day

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Why We Love It

On the morning of December 7, 1941, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, killing 2,403 people and injuring 1,178 others. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it to be “a date which will live in infamy.” This story map uses images, videos, and maps to recreate that tragic day. We love how the map uses geographical and temporal details, across multiple battlefronts, to show a new perspective on the interconnected sequence of events.

Why It Works

This story map works because it brings clarity to a complex story—one that’s made up of both calculation and chaos. Using grayscale colors for maps can be a risky choice, but here the cartography does justice to the moment in time. The map author embraces black-and-white basemaps for an old-school map aesthetic. This choice provides continuity when the story transitions from maps of the ships’ arrangement to newsreels and historic aftermath photos.

Important Steps

The attack on Pearl Harbor was carefully planned to hit key battleships and aircraft. The maps are important tools for visualizing the attack and the paths to main targets.

The flow lines of the two attack waves required custom shapes and georeferencing in ArcGIS. Multiple steps and software were needed to make the curved flight paths. You can check out the tutorial here.

Recollections and reflections from soldiers who were at Pearl Harbor that day bring a powerful, personal narrative to the story.

Immersive sections are a series of views that showcase media full-screen. They are a good way to transition between pictures, maps, and videos.

The basemaps were designed in black and white in order to tie together historic photos and aerial imagery from the time.

Map Author

Clare Trainor

Clare Trainor

@ClareMTrainor | LinkedIn

As a cartographer I love the stories that can be told through compelling maps and visualizations. I was recently an intern with the Esri Story Maps Team and am now a product engineer on that same team, helping to build many more great story map templates.

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