Posts about Maps
Tom at Ghosts of DC posted an 1892 map of the L'Enfant City. Union Station did not yet exist, and instead, railroads from the south carried trains right to a terminal where the National Gallery is today. Streetcars plied most major thoroughfares.
Ed Summers pointed out on Twitter how the paths on the Mall are much windier and loopier than the straight, formal paths today. The same is true of Dupont Circle and Iowa Circle (now Logan Circle, but at the time, Logan Circle was the name for what's now Sheridan Circle), and other parks.
Many DC parks changed from a more natural, Victorian-era layout to a more formal one around the time of the 1902 McMillan Plan, which also created the Federal Triangle, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorial sites, and other elements that shape the monumental core today.
Maybe the 20th century patterns are better, or maybe not. But it does further make a mockery of the National Park Service's claims that parks forever must match the layouts they had around, say, 1929. Our parks have changed and should continue to change to accommodate the recreational and relaxational needs of residents and visitors.
What else do you notice on the map?
As Montgomery County has become more diverse, it also faces new challenges with poverty. A new mapping tool shows just how much the county's changed over the past 30 years.
Where poverty is in Montgomery County. Each dot represents 20 low-income people. Blue dots are whites, yellow dots are blacks, green dots are Hispanics, and red dots are Asians. Original image from the Urban Institute.
The Urban Institute, a DC-based think tank that looks at social and economic issues, made this awesome mapping tool that shows where very low-income people lived between 1980 to 2010. The Atlantic Cities notes that the maps show dramatic demographic shifts across the country, notably the suburbanization of poverty.
That's especially evident here in Montgomery County. 30 years ago, the county's only significant concentration of poverty was around close-in Langley Park and Long Branch, which had established themselves as immigrant gateways by the late 1970s.
But today, you can also find clusters of poverty throughout East County and the Upcounty, in Wheaton and Aspen Hill, in White Oak and Briggs Chaney, and even along I-270 in Gaithersburg and Germantown. Many of them have only emerged within the past decade.
Meanwhile, communities that have historically been affluent, like Bethesda or Olney, appear to have stayed the same. The area along Rockville Pike between Rockville Town Center and White Flint, where a considerable amount of new, high-end development is happening, seems to have actually become less poor.
We know that people increasingly desire urban neighborhoods, whether that's places like Columbia Heights in DC or downtown Silver Spring. But the flip side of that revitalization is that the poor often move or are pushed out into suburban areas. While these communities offer more space or better public services, they aren't always well-equipped to help low-income people.
Groups like IMPACT Silver Spring, which helps low-income people and immigrants connect with community groups and social services, began working in and around downtown Silver Spring in the 1990s. Today, IMPACT does outreach at garden apartment complexes in Gaithersburg and Briggs Chaney. Unlike close-in Silver Spring or Long Branch, these areas don't have easy access to shopping, jobs, public services or transit.
Instead of working to combat the problem, more affluent neighbors fight any attempts at change or build fences in a lame attempt at keeping "undesirables" out. Meanwhile, kids growing up in these neighborhoods are often blocked from the high-quality public schools Montgomery County is known for.
The challenges that suburban poor face aren't necessarily different than those of their inner-city counterparts. But they're compounded by the built form of suburbia, which was designed under the assumption that everyone would have money and a car and does little to accommodate those who lack both.
Initiatives like the county's BRT plan or the White Oak Science Gateway will help bring transit, jobs and other amenities to these neighborhoods and improve residents' quality of life. But it'll be important to ensure that they aren't pushed out again into even more remote areas.
Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli doesn't want to finish the Silver Line, and Terry McAuliffe, his Democratic rival, is pointing it out. Though something's a little funny with McAuliffe's map...
Cuccinelli said on WMAL radio
earlier this month in 2011 that "I hope they don't do Phase Two," the segment from Wiehle Avenue to Dulles Airport and on to Loudoun County. This week, he reiterated his belief that it's not cost-effective.
Tom Jackman reported in 2011:
Cuccinelli called the project an "economic boondoggle" and that "the cost-benefit just is not there." He said the issue would be a central feature of the Loudoun board of supervisor elections this year, and that "I hope [voters] elect an entire board who's committed to pulling out of Phase Two to kill it."McAuliffe made this a campaign issue during some recent campaign stops. In response McAuliffe's attacks, Fredrick Kunkle wrote in the Post, "Cuccinelli's campaign said he would seek more cost-effective ways than the rail project to address Virginia's perennial traffic woes."
McAuliffe's ad shows a Metro map with the Silver Line, but with the new line Xed out, and the caption, "This is Cuccinelli's Virginia." But look again at that map. It's acutally Neil Flanagan's fantasy Metro map from 2009:
This isn't the first time someone probably went on Google Images to look for a Metro map, found a fantasy map, and used it by mistake. A cheesesteak shop on U Street used one of my fantasy maps, also with a separate Blue Line, on their menu:
Not to mention the time MediaBistro used the same map for one of their ads.
Hopefully this means that if McAuliffe wins the governorship, he'll also support new Metro lines, even in DC? Joking aside, though, it's also important for voters to know where each gubernatorial candidate stands on one of the most important transportation projects in Northern Virginia.
Thanks to reader ARM for the tip.
Update: I confused a recent Post article about the Silver Line and the campaign with one from 2011. Cuccinelli's statements against the Silver Line on WMAL came in 2011, but he reiterated his opposition more recently. I've added in the more recent information and clarified which parts are from 2011.
Constitution Avenue used to be a canal, and two creeks used to flow through central DC. David Ramos produced a series of maps showing where they went.
Imagine what a different city Washington might be today if these had been kept in place.
Frequent transit maps highlight bus and rail lines that come at least every 15 minutes. They're great tools that help riders easily identify the most convenient routes.
WMATA has a new set of 2 drafts for its map including the Silver Line, and has listened to several suggestions we made in the last round.
First, they added green space along the Anacostia, as I suggested last time. They also reversed the Orange and Silver Lines so that Silver crosses Orange by East Falls Church instead of Stadium-Armory, something several of you recommended. I think that looks good, though the West Falls Church station dot looks uncomfortably close to the Silver Line now; maybe it can move just a tad west?
The main question is still how to handle stations where 3 lines run parallel. They've made the "pill" station symbols in one option wider; last time, the pills were thinner than the station circles, making them look less unified. Now, the pills are wider but also shorter.
Meanwhile, the option of adding "whiskers" to the station symbols got a variant. Instead of black whiskers, they're white. This actually evokes a little of Cameron Booth's approach in his contest-winning map, where he just delineated each station with a short gap in each line. I was a strong proponent of the pill option before, but actually this white whisker alternative is growing on me. What do you think?
In addition, designer Lance Wyman and the WMATA team made the Silver Line darker and lightened the Beltway and jurisdiction borders (something else readers suggested); noted in text that the map is not to scale (sure, whatever), added the police phone number (reasonable), and made the lines even a little thinner.
What do you think?
When the Silver Line opens later this year, the Metro map will have to fit in a silver stripe where the Orange and Blue Lines traverse DC. Metro has
a two new drafts of the new map and wants to hear from riders.
The main challenge in the map's design is how to show 3 lines all running together. Until the Silver Line, no track segment had 3 lines. When there are 2 lines, the map shows a small dot in between the two. But what to do with 3?
In our 2011 contest, people tried a lot of solutions, like much thinner lines (like most transit systems), striped lines, pairs or triples of dots, or just bigger dots and much more.
Metro's first draft used little "whiskers" on each side of the circle. A few people liked them, but most hated them and pushed for "pill" or "capsule"-shaped station symbols instead, or thinner lines.
Metro now has a new version that incorporates those suggestions. It shrinks the line width by 24%, which still leaves fatter lines than in other transit systems, but much slimmer than the current map. In this option, the stations with 3 lines now use the "capsule" shapes. They also created a new version that keeps the "whiskers" but cleans up the map in other ways.
What works, and where there could be a few more tweaks
The capsule version is much better than the previous versions. The curves are very tight and clean. The thinner lines look better, and the capsules are superior to the "whiskers."
It seems to me that for consistency with the circles, the capsules should be as large on the rounded ends as the small circles are today
Booth had very harsh words for the current map (redesigned last year). He pointed out many technical errors, like the way the parking P and hospital H icons didn't line up with the text at all. Metro has corrected at least some of these, like one Booth pointed out:
Text alignment on part of the Red Line. Left: Current Rush Plus map. Image by Cameron Booth from WMATA base map. Right: New map. Image by David Alpert from WMATA base map.
Metro also abandoned an idea of abbreviating words like "Ctr" and "Hgts" in station names (another choice Booth panned), but they are abbreviating "Rd," "St," "Ave," and "Blvd" for all stations. The original map abbreviated some but not all road types.
As the map goes through iterations, some have repeatedly pointed out that there is considerable parkland east of the Anacostia, including right along the river, but none appears on the map. Given that even the Pentagon (a large office fortress with parking lots and highways around it) gets to be inside a "park" space on this map, it seems reasonable to put some green along the east bank of the Anacostia.
It continues to mystify why Metro doesn't want to put the "Farragut Crossing" out-of-system transfer on the map. If it did appear, that could entice some casual users to take it instead of crowding trains through Metro Center.
While Metro is adjusting lines a little, it also would be smart to move Metro Center and Gallery Place closer together, so that fewer tourists take the Red Line one stop and then transfer, and put Union Station nearer the Capitol, because it's the station closest to the Senate.
Overall, the capsule map seems best, and the map overall is moving definitively in the right direction. Especially compared to the pre-Rush Plus map, where curves were all uneven, some labels were not even at a 45-degree angle, and everything was just a mess in so many tiny ways, the map has gotten far more professional.
Update/note: The image at the top does not show the legend and other information that's at the top or bottom of the map. You can click on an image to see the full map including header and footer.
Update 2: The original version of this post said that Metro has a new version with capsule station symbols, but in fact they have 2 new versions, one of which has capsule symbols and the other with whisker symbols. I misunderstood the whisker version Metro posted as being the old one rather than a revised whisker one. The post has now been updated to show both new versions as well as the correct previous one and the current map.
Keith Ivey has created an interactive map of DC's April 23 special election results. The maps seem to back up the notion that there are ongoing geographic and racial divisions in our politics, though except for east of the Anacostia (which is a big "except"), Elissa Silverman's appeal was far broader, geographically, than citywide candidates in other recent elections.
Ivey also maps which candidate won the most votes in each precinct.
Left: Plurality votes on April 23, 2013. Bonds=cyan, Silverman=red, Mara=blue, Frumin=green. Right: Plurality votes on April 26, 2011. Orange=orange, Biddle=red, Mara=blue, Weaver=green. Images by Keith Ivey.
Ivey also notes that looking at the overall amount of ink for each candidate doesn't necessarily reflect reality. The peripheral areas where Bonds was strongest, for instance, are also less densely-populated areas of the city. He says,
The map can be misleading in the same way typical U.S. presidential election maps are, since the area of a precinct is not proportional to the number of voters there. A candidate who wins in densely populated, high-turnout areas will often look worse on the map than a candidate who wins in less dense or low-turnout areas.One observation is that you can't really detect Rock Creek Park on the Silverman map. Rock Creek forms a bright line on the other maps, but not Silverman's. On the other hand, the Anacostia River is a bright line on everyone's map.
The Sunlight Foundation has put together a great interactive map of contributions for the April 23 DC Council at-large special election.
Map by the Sunlight Foundation. Contribution data from the April 15 release
by the DC Office of Campaign Finance.
Their article by Ryan Sibley also shows many other interesting statistics, such as who got money from outside the region, the balance of corporate and individual contributions (Anita Bonds and Michael Brown got only about half individual contributions, while it's nearly 100% for Silverman), and more.
Sibley also notes that while DC's Office of Campaign Finance releases computer-readable data files with contribution information, some data is not in those files, like which candidate goes with a campaign committee. That's in PDFs, but PDF data isn't usable in mash-ups without human work.
What do you notice?
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- More roads won't solve traffic on I-95 in Northern Virginia
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- The reason cyclists love green bike lanes
- Can we build up around MARC stations?
- How does DC's proposed Metro loop compare?
- Metro maps out loop line between DC and Arlington