Visualizing Mental Maps of San Francisco

Neighborhoodr clued me in to this awesome new set of San Francisco maps today. Started by a couple of Berkeley students, Visualizing Mental Maps attempts to map how San Franciscans feel about their neighborhoods & the city, and the results are really interesting. From the site: 

The Visualizing Mental Maps of San Francisco project taps into San Francisco residents' perceptions of the city and its neighborhoods, which aren't always reflected in the geography of a street map. The first part of the project was a qualitative investigation in which we interviewed residents and asked them to draw pictures of their internal images or “mental maps” of the neighborhoods they lived in and of San Francisco. The second part was the creation of visualizations informed by the qualitative research, resulting in this atlas of mental maps.
One of my favorite parts of their project is Storymaps, where you can hover above a map of SF neighborhoods and see how the study participants characterize them. 
I like the one participant who says about the Marina, “Y'know, its not really necessary. I don't really need this.”
The map of hills and pedestrian barriers is also a cool reminder of how San Francisco's unique topography dictates neighborhood boundaries and how we move about the city on foot/bike. I've frequently argued that San Francisco really isn't all that hilly, but I think the only reason I feel that way is because I've become so adept at avoiding the hills, especially when biking. When I lived on Fulton & Stanyan, I'd regularly ride a mile out of my way to avoid that steep two block hill on Stanyan between Fell and Fulton. Because I'm lazy. 
I just wanted to share this, but you should definitely have a look for yourself because there's waaay more interesting data and pictures on their site than I could possibly hope to unpack in a single blog post. These students really did an amazing job of mapping the spirit of the city in a way that traditional cartography never could. And don't forget to check out the Gallery, featuring drawings of SF maps and neighborhoods from study participants. This one looks like a dinosaur!

Comments (1)

Thanks for the really nice write up about my Master’s thesis project! It was kind of strange seeing the title come up in my RSS reader. Love the maps maps maps maps maps… tag.