The judgement of Judgmental Maps

Judgmental Maps are what they are – a fairly accurate representation of the neighborhoods and third places of cities. Pretty ingenious, the site allows people to upload their maps for their region, so the site covers a lot of cities with fairly accurate representations. I also like these maps because I have a personal enjoyment from knowing cities this intimately, which can only come from spending a certain amount of hours in them, but you can use these maps to get an idea for the lay of the land that would otherwise come from hours of exploration. Highly entertaining and hilarious.

What speaks volumes though is reading the comments. How receptive people are to the critique of their city is far better fodder for judging the city than the map with stereotypical labels. In some cities people get SO offended at how “racist” and “inaccurate” their map is, and other cities (like this Denver commenter) take their punches and roll with it “The word ‘Nothing’ is written directly over the name of my subdivision. Ah well. Truth hurts, I guess.”

Just to comment, Map Urbane provides very similar maps in terms of concept, and actually does a better job with the maps – they are customized with specialty base maps and also offer other ‘types’ like a transit map with stops labeled for their judgement – but they don’t have anybody commenting. So for the purposes of my commentary on the irony of judging cities by the people that judge the judgmental maps, Map Urbane is not relevant. Interesting case for branding however – you can have killer content and an obscure name can kill your virility.

Judgmental Map Denver

Judgmental Map Denver


Indianapolis judgmental map

Judgmental map Indianapolis

For us map nerds though, I like how the commenters take the time to judge the actual quality of the map. The Chicago creators were criticized for the legibility of the map – although their thoughtfulness in putting so much detail should be applauded.

Judgmental Map Chicago

Judgmental Map Chicago


Or how about in Seattle where one commenter sys “How about using a top ortho view instead of a shitty angle like this? And while you’re at it use a more readable typeface.” What – no kudos for veering away from the Google Map base everyone else uses? So pretentious Seattle is too pretentious for its pretentious map.

Judgmental Map Seattle

Judgmental Map Seattle

Which got me thinking about city stereotypes as relative to each other, and thus I’ve found a few other gems related to this concept.

The best post I found was an article that used Google autofill to show popular searches about cities – How Other People Stereotype Your City. Once again, I think this is as much fodder about the people that live in these cities (far too many cities have “why is [my city] so boring” in their top searches), but there’s a couple insightful ones. Why are Denver and LA so Polluted – perhaps this is commentary on the density of a city, since diluted pollution is less noticeable – or maybe just the geography of it. Why is Chicago so Corrupt – only city that got this tag word, although I’m surprised Detroit didn’t. Why is Portland so Weird, why is Seattle so Liberal, why is Minneapolis so great. Many cities got “Expensive” which could also be considered commentary on the wealth gap in the world more than a comparative judgement of the city.

Here’s a regional one found by the Netherlands blogger Map and the City – I like the regional spin coupled with the arrows that indicate whatever action it is runs along a continuum as you move closer to the source.

Great regionalism, and cool technique to incorporate continuums of judgement

Great regionalism, and cool technique to incorporate continuums of judgement


Margaret Spyker

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Judgemental Maps | Web Map Academy :

    […] This site is a collector for the convergence of ‘sense of place’ and ‘mental map’ – people are asked to create a map of their location based on the common understanding or lay-interpretation of what different neighborhoods of a city are characterized by. Read more on Judgemental Maps in this WMA May 2014 post. […]

    2 years ago

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