Aerial photography was used by a Boise-based company to map Missoula Valley with precision. There is a certain similarity to how Illustrated Maps are created wherein the illustrator climbs mountains and trees to show a scene as it looks from above. The illustrator does not focus on strict scale but on prominent parts of the landscape so that the viewer will immediately get that feeling of recognition.
A vertical photography project is conducted every year in order to put into detail all the changes that happened below and provide the city with a valuable tool it can use for mapping redevelopment and other purposes. The photographs taken from above will be the go-to reference during discussions with potential developers.
According to Tod Gass, project coordinator of Missoula Redevelopment Agency, they use an aircraft to fly over the valley for the collection of information. It is usually done when conditions are right and trees have not leaved out. Valley Air Photo flies a Beechcraft Bonanza with equipment for digital film acquisition. The last series of maps were produced in 2014 before the latest wave of developments happened in the valley.
The maps that measure 8 feet per panel do not include the redevelopment along Brooks Street corridor and that of North Reserve. The new Poverello Center has not been pictured off West Broadway and neither is the downtown hotel and student housing project as they were both under construction. The Old Sawmill District was a vacant lot. It did not include Mary Avenue, the additions to Southgate Mall and the growth off Mullan Road. Simply said, the map of Missoula Valley is not updated with the latest developments.
Like the last series of maps, Missoula Redevelopment Agency will partner with the city’s GIS Services in paying the updated series. An approved $10,000 budget help pay a portion of the cost.
Aerial photography is now possible because of innovations in technology. In the creation of Illustrated Maps of a city, the scenery must be taken from an oblique view or how birds see the view while flying over a certain place. In many instances, a specific portion of time is captured to be permanently illustrated in the artistic map.