Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This Beautiful Map

I think I'm in love with this map of San Francisco. Every time I see its rainbow colored streets I become all weak at the knees.

Crayon the Grids is a series of maps in which the streets have been colored based on their orientation. The results, I think you will agree are absolutely stunning. This series of gorgeous visualizations includes maps of San Francisco, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, London, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Boston.

There is also a detailed explanation of how the maps were made,

"... to render each point on the map, we use Proximatic, my custom high-performance k-NN engine, to calculate the length-weighted average of the colors assigned to the nearest 500 meters of street, keying render weight to the local degree of parallelism/orthogonality (derived in a similar mod-90° vector space), with rolloffs for outlying roads and territory".

To be honest I didn't take much of that explanation in. I just stared, drooling at the map and replied, 'You're pretty'.

Crayon the Grids reminded me of some visualizations by Visual Statistix, comparing the road orientation patterns in American and European cities. These static maps with accompanying rose diagrams are a great visualization of urban road patterns. They are particularly illuminating in illustrating the differences between the planned grid-patterns of American cities and the more organic sprawl found in European cities.

VeloViewer has also released an interactive map that allows you to view the road orientation for any district or city in the world. Using the map you can zoom in on any area of the world and a rose diagram displays the road orientation distribution of the current map bounds.

The map uses the underlying data for roads in OpenStreetMap to calculate the road direction patterns on the fly. This means that you can move the map around and zoom in or out on any location and the rose diagram will update to show the road direction distribution within the current map view.
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