Burn Rubber to These Michelin Three Star Restaurants

For over 100 years, a well known tire manufacturer has been publishing a list of restaurants around the world. A spot in The Michelin Red Guide is an honor to any restaurateur. The truly coveted accolades are the Michelin stars. Unlike the four and five star norm of movie critics or online product reviews, Michelin stars only go to three.

With millions of restaurants in the world, being a three Michelin star restaurant is incredibly rare. We’ve mapped the current recipients of the Guides highest honor, the 118 Three Star restaurants in the world.

View 3 Star Michelin Restaurants Worldwide in a full screen map

New Bedford Sea ScallopWhile the guide does not cover every region, its rankings still give an idea of culinary hot spots. Japan leads the way, its 29 three star restaurants the most of any other country. France, where the guide started in 1900, is second with 25 top-rated restaurants. The United States (14), Germany (11), Italy and Spain (tied with eight each) round our the top five.

London and New York may think they’re battling for top culinary city, but quantitatively it’s Tokyo and Paris. These two cities have more Michelin three star restaurants (10 each) than most countries covered in the Guide. Other top cities include Kyoto, Hong Kong, and New York, all with six restaurants on the list. London has only two (the entire United Kingdom only has four).

Unlike other awards like Oscars, it’s not as clear who becomes the recipient of the Michelin stars. Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay boast having received more than 20, though some of those restaurants have had stars removed over the years. Celebrity chefs often go on to own many more restaurants than they can oversee as chef. Even at Ramsay’s eponymous three star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, the current chef is Clare Smyth.

The French Laundry

That said, there are three people considered the head chefs of multiple three star Michelin restaurants:

  1. Alain Ducasse helms three restaurants in three different countries: Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Monaco; Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London; Plaza Athénée in Paris.
  2. Thomas Keller in the US has top restaurants on both coasts: The French Laundry in Yountville, California; Per Se in New York City.
  3. Masahiro Yoshitake has Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo and Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong, the latter shared with Yoshiharu Kakinuma.

Michelin Guides 1911 and 2006

The Michelin Red Guide that contains these famed stars is published by the Michelin tire company. When cars were still very new, the Michelin brothers who founded the company wanted a way to encourage more driving. If drivers used their cars more, they would need to change the tires more often. Thus, the Guides contained great restaurants all over France, in addition to guides for hotels and other attractions.

Fast forward over 100 years and, as you’ve seen, these guides have become a respected voice in fine dining. Anonymous food critics, many not known even to Michelin employees, determine the fate of these top restaurants. To earn three stars requires a herculean effort, but then the restauranteurs must maintain the rating. At least 40 three star restaurants have lost one or more stars.

Create your own map now. Don’t have your own spreadsheet? Learn how to map open data and tables you find on Wikipedia.

Happy Birthday Hawaii: Your Landmarks Mapped

Hawaii is one of the smallest of the United States and the most recent to join the union. Despite its size and age, there is a lot of history on this collection of islands thousands of miles from the rest of the US. With the state celebrating a birthday in August, we thought it made sense to look at some of its historical landmarks. Think of it like a sunny, beach vacation without the sun and with only photos of the beach. And the vacation will only last as long as it takes to read this post, unless you have a really good imagination.

View National Historic Landmarks of Hawaii in a full screen map

Honokohau beach with templeMany of the landmarks celebrate the heritage of Hawaii long before Captain Cook ever discovered the islands. For example, the beach in this photograph includes an ancient Hawaiian temple reconstructed at the Honokohau National Historic Landmark on the Big island of Hawaii. There are two other temples, or heiaus, to the North of Honokohau, including Mookini, which dates back over 1,500 years.

The Big Island has seven landmarks. In addition to the heiaus, there’s the final residence of Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian islands; an ancient quarry along the dormant volcano Mauna Kea; an early settlement that also stands as the southernmost place in the United States; and the remains of Keauhou Holua Slide, a toboggan-like course originally over 4,000 feet long, which was used by the nobles of ancient Hawaii.

By far the most landmarks are on the state’s most populous island. Oahu has 16 of the 33 National Historic Landmarks. Of those 16, more than half commemorate the Pearl Harbor attacks of December 7, 1941, which precipitated the US entry into World War II.

USS UtahBatchGeo’s grouping feature allows easy filtering to show exactly the data you want to see. Try this:

  1. In the lower left of the map, select Island from the drop-down
  2. Click O’ahu from the list of islands to show only the markers from that island
  3. Now select Area from the drop-down and the marker colors change to show the underlying data, which makes it easy to visually see how many sites are related to Pearl Harbor
  4. Finally, click Pearl Harbor to display only those markers associated with the 1941 attack

Most of these are bunched in the actual harbor, including the battleships sunk by Japanese weapons. Two of these are airfields the Japanese attacked first in order to gain air superiority. The other, way to the North of the island, is the first radar site used by the United States during wartime.

In addition to Oahu and the Big Island, another six are scattered around Maui and its nearby islands, plus three sites are on Kaua’i. Over half of the sites were registered on December 29, 1962, just over three years into Hawaii’s life as a state. The most recent was added in 2007, the home of Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian kingdom.

Keep your Hawaiian vacation going: in addition to these 33 National Historic Landmarks, Hawaii has two World Heritage Sites, and shows up on USA Today’s New Seven Wonders of the World.

Flashcard Maps: Learn US State Capitals, Flowers, and Birds

Students in primary school all over learn geography. In the United States, one common practice is to memorize state capitals. Though many of us forget them, it’s never too late to re-learn your geography. Let BatchGeo help you with this flash card map—or make your own. In addition to capitals, we’ve included state flowers and birds, so those who already remember capitals can have something new to learn.

View State Capitals Flash Cards in a full screen map

Those outside the U.S., or anyone who doesn’t card about northern cardinals and white prairie roses, can easily make their own geography flashcards using BatchGeo. We’ll show you how below.

First, let’s see how this flashcard map works. Zoom in and identify a state (that’s another geography quiz, though Google Maps gives you hints with labels). Click the marker over the state—we put them at the geographic center so as not to let city labels give away the capital. You’ll activate an info box above the marker with the answer.

To test yourself on the bird for that state, click the right arrow near the bottom of the info box. Click the arrow again for the state’s flower. The video above shows the flash cards in action, as well as a way to filter out one of the tests using the grouping functionality that comes with every BatchGeo map.

If you’re a guesser, here’s how to increase your odds:

  • For southern states, choose northern mockingbirds—northern is relative and fives states share this bird.
  • For more northern states, but not New England, go for the northern cardinal, the top choice with seven states claiming this red bird.
  • For those west of the Mississippi River, you’re best guessing the western meadowlark, the official bird of six states.

As for flowers, you’re on your own, but these are claimed by at least two states: violet (3), apple blossom, mountain laurel, wild prairie rose, goldenrod, and magnolia.

The tradition of a state flower appears to be older than choosing a state bird. The oldest state flower is Washington’s Coast rhododendron, established in 1892, just three years after Washington became a state. Six other states added official flowers before 1900. By contrast, over half of the states already had state flowers when state birds became a thing. The earliest state bird was in 1927, when seven states added official birds.

How to Make Your Own Geography Flashcards

Example spreadsheetAre you ready to make your own flashcard map? Whether for testing yourself, your kids, or your students, these are fun and easy to make. To start, all you need is a spreadsheet with a geographic location (country, state, or city name) and a column for at least one answer. Optionally, you can also include an image URL to help visual thinkers commit the answer to memory. See our power user tips to learn how to add images and more.

Now simply highlight every row/column of your spreadsheet (remember the header row!) and paste it into the big data box on the BatchGeo home page.

If you’d like to see how we created multiple categories in a single map, feel free to view the spreadsheet we used. For ideas on finding or preparing your data, be sure to check out our open data mapping guide.

Where Yellowstone National Park Geysers Blow

Perhaps the best known natural landmark in the United States is Yellowstone National Park. Within the “gates” of the park, certainly the most known feature is Old Faithful Geyser. The geothermal blast gets its name because it is one of the most predictable natural eruptions on earth. Since the US National Park system is turning 100 this year, we thought we’d take a look at Old Faithful and the many other geothermal features of Yellowstone.

View Geysers of Yellowstone in a full screen map

Old Faithful eruption in 1948. Photo from the National Park Service.

Old Faithful eruption in 1948. Photo from the National Park Service.

To start, Yellowstone is estimated to have 10,000 geothermal features. Since that’s just an estimate, nobody has actually tabulated each of those geysers, hot springs, and pools. While BatchGeo can certainly map thousands and thousands of locations (notably, it would only take a couple minutes), we decided to focus on the named and notable. How did we choose them? If they have a page or photo on Wikipedia, they’re in.

The map above has 123 geothermal features, which includes 87 are geysers. The easiest way to explore them is by areas, most of which are Geyser Basins. BatchGeo’s grouping feature makes that super easy by color coding the markers by these basins, and letting you click the one or more basins you want to see. For example, the Upper Geyser Basin has the most geothermal features. If you click that, you’ll be zoomed into the 51 geysers and other features within the basin.

Old Faithful is amongst the bubbling, blasting brethren of Upper Geyser Basin. While it may be the most predictable, there are several geysers that spew their hot water higher into the air. Old Faithful’s 106 feet (32 m) to 185 feet (56 m) certainly makes it amongst the highest. Others in the 100+ foot club include Giantess Geyser (100), Fan Geyser (125), Splendid Geyser (200), Grand Geyser (200), Beehive Geyser (200), and Giant Geyser (200). The highest geyser in Yellowstone history is the aptly-named Excelsior Geyser, which reached heights of 300 feet. Excelsior is believed to have blasted so hard its plumbing no longer can focus it as a geyser. Now called Excelsior Crater, it spends most of its time as a large, boiling pool, splashing up far below its previous heights.

Upper Geyser Basin includes all of the above 100+ foot geysers. If we include those between 50 and 100 feet, one other basin stands out. The Lower Geyser Basin contains the second-most geothermal features amongst those mapped, with 27. Two similarly-named 75 foot geysers are the sights to see in Lower Geyser Basin: Fountain Geyser and Great Fountain Geyser are both near the center of the basin. Though about the same height, Great Fountain Geyser lasts at least an hour (versus Fountain Geyser’s 30 minutes).

The durations of the geysers are widely varied. At least seven are more predictable than Old Faithful, but only because they are constant. The highest of these is Clepsydra Geyser, which is always spewing water 45 feet into the air. Interestingly, prior to a 1959 earthquake, Clepsydra (derived from Greek “water clock”) erupted every three minutes. The other constant blowers are Bijou Geyser (15 feet), Comet Geyser (5), Artesia Geyser (5), Spasm Geyser (3), Pump Geyser (2), and Beryl Spring (1).

Bijou Geyser constantly spews 15 feet high. Photo by Richard Ellis.

Bijou Geyser constantly spews 15 feet high. Photo by Richard Ellis.

Like Old Faithful and Clepsydra, other geysers seem to be named for their frequency, but not their predictability. Occasional Geyser in the West Thumb Geyser Basin is one of many that don’t erupt on any schedule. In fact, some are dormant, which seems to be nearly the case for the Semi-Centennial Geyser. And what do you call a gaseous body that always seems to erupt late? That would be Tardy Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin.

In addition to filtering markers by the area of the park, you can also explore geyser height, frequency, and duration. Further, most of these features are filterable by temperature, and a handful of the pools can be filtered by depth. All this data began as a spreadsheet culled from this Wikipedia page.

Do you like to explore the natural world this way? Yellowstone is also one of 23 World Heritage Sites in the United States, and they’re all mapped.

Independence Days Around the World

Are you celebrating Independence Day? In the United States, we think of Independence Day as July 4. The same goes for Abkhazia, which became independent from the Republic of Georgia in 1993. In fact, there are 18 countries that celebrate their independence within a week of the Fourth of July. On the map below you’ll find 183 independence days around the globe.

View Independence Days Around the World in a full screen map

Temperature vs independenceJuly, it turns out, is a pretty popular month for independence. There are 25 countries that celebrate in July, second only to August’s 27. Perhaps there’s something to hot months, since most of these countries are in the northern hemisphere where July, August, and September (the third-most with 23) make up the summer months. The most common single day, September 15, supports the temperature theory. However, it’s tied with January 1, typically cold (but a great time to try something new).

If you’re looking for countries with independences in common, the most likely shared feature is the country from which they gained independence. If you paid any attention when you learned world history, the results will be unsurprisingly centered on the powerhouses of Europe. There are 60 countries who celebrate their independence from the United Kingdom, which is enough to make the Queen’s ears burn any month of the year.

France is next, with 24 independent countries. The earliest of the bunch is Haiti, which has been on its own since 1804, though French is still one of the Caribbean island’s official languages. Rounding out the top three is Spain (20 countries), with almost every one of its former colonies in central and South America.

One of the non-American countries to gain independence from Spain is Morocco. The north African country declared independence in 1956 from not just Spain, but also France. There are several countries that also gained independence from multiple countries at roughly the same time: Nauru (Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom), Sudan (Egypt and the United Kingdom), Malaysia (Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore), Cameroon (France and United Kingdom), Vietnam (Japan and France), Lithuania (Russia and Germany), Poland (Russia, Prussia, and Austria), Vanuatu (United Kingdom and France), Libya (United Kingdom and France), Somalia (United Kingdom and Italy), and Brazil (United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves).

If you’re old enough to remember the 1990s, you can probably guess which country had the most independent states in the shortest time. From March 11, 1990 (Lithuania) to December 16, 1991 (Kazakhstan), a dozen countries gained independence from the Soviet Union.

The fall of the USSR is one reason that the 1900s saw the vast majority of independence days mapped here. Many others happened after World Wars I and II. Another nearly 30 occurred in the 1800s, while a small handful were from several hundred years ago. The oldest is Hungary’s National Day, dating back to the year 1000. The Swiss celebrate a date nearly 300 years later, when the typically neutral country joined an alliance against the Holy Roman Empire. Sweden in 1523 and Portugal in 1640 practically seem recent in comparison.

Independence Day poster

The next-most recent, the United States from the British on July 4, 1776. That’s 220 years, almost to the day, before the biggest Independence Day of all: the release of the 1996 summer hit starring Will Smith fighting aliens.