Saturday, October 13, 2007

Asleep at the Grid: Map Errors

Last spring, someone demonstrated for me that if you typed "New York, NY to London England" into Google Maps' directions search, it would return driving directions to somewhere along New York City's furthest eastern waterfront and then instruct you to "swim." Recently I tested this again and apparently Google has corrected this, with search results now revealing that they "...could not calculate driving results for..." that particular combination. Whether accidental or intentional, map errors can be fun (or frustrating, depending on your situation) to discover.

Since purchasing my bicycle last year, I've twice called 311 - New York City's non-emergency information number - and requested a free NYC Cycling Map for both 2006 and 2007. While looking at the map to see what unexplored bike route I can tackle next, my eyes wandered to areas I was already intimately familiar with. Among those areas is Manhattan's Little Italy. It seems that the cartographer or graphic designer of the map moved Mott Street two blocks west of it's present (and only) location. Compare and contrast:

The crossed-out Mott Street is actually Baxter Street. If anything, the understandable error would have been with the confusing morph from Baxter Street to Centre Market Place (four out of the five streets between Hogan Place and Broome Street are named Baxter with the block between Grand Street and Broome abbruptly becoming Centre Market Place).

I can only hope that some poor tourist doesn't discover one of these maps and use them for walking tours - Lower Manhattan's named streets are confusing enough for most city residents.

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