Bad Maps: Inaugural Weekend Edition!

Pedestrian Walking Routes “created” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: United States Secret Service inaugurates (HA!) the bad map column of the blog. Ironic quotes because it looks like a Microsoft PowerPoint job. Not that MS PP is bad, its just not a GIS utility.

Inauguration - Pedestrian Walking Routes - Small JPEG

Of greatest import, where’s the scale?! Is that route down Massachusetts Avenue a tenth of a mile or 2 miles?

One assumes that the map is unprojected, I’m pretty sure D.C. is oriented in a cardinal grid pattern but still, I’d like to be sure that north is north and not northeast. I guess if I had a compass out trying to reach the inaugural grounds I’d be detained.

I’m also assuming that the buildings are yellow? Because I really don’t know. So yes, the buildings are yellow. Unless they’re something else. But why are they yellow? Is that important? Should I be aware of this?

And why is some stuff grey? There’s more greenspace in the city than what’s grey. And there’s tons more Federal land that what’s in grey… WHY IS IT GREY?!

I suppose nobody in the SS take the Metro, because none of the stations are named. Dear, out-of-towners, here’s a map for your reference in plotting your journey. The far-western station depicted on the DHS/SS map is Foggy Bottom – GWU. Why wouldn’t they name the stations? Its not like the surrounding buildings are important.

And finally, the green arrow in the east really bothers me. Who cares that RFK (the stadium) is out east? Is this critical information? The pedestraian walking route is non-sensical anyway. Are we not allowed to walk anywhere else in the city? What if we happen to find ourselves in the northern line of four Metro stations? Are we marooned there, unable to pass go and collect our $200 dollars in tax refunds?

Maps, like papers, charts, graphs, and tables, are meant to impart information. As such, they need to be meticulously examined, because if they’re made like this then… well, how are we supposed to take this seriously?

But I just can’t be a critical complainer with no solutions, if I were making this map, I would eliminate the “walking route” altogether, name the Metro stations, and simply indicate where the access points are, and the areas blocked off for the parade. As an added bonus I would reproportion everything so the map (the supposed point of the piece of paper) takes up more than a third of the page, who cares about the logos? And, of course, indicate the scale and projection.


Just received a better example of a map, vehicular traffic closures. Simple, straightforward, to the point. Aside from the fact it neglects the scale, north arrow, and projection…


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