The most amazing “You Are Here” map you’ve ever seen

July 29, 2021 by Joshua
in Creativity, Perception, Visualization

I live in Greenwich Village. Here’s an old map of the neighborhood:

It’s a tall building. From the roof, I can see across the street to a playground for a school between a couple brick buildings:

You probably see marked on the ground the two basketball half-courts on the left and the blue track that curves beside them. You’ll also see a colorful block pattern inside the track. Let’s look a little closer:

Since I started this post with a map, you might recognize the blocks are street blocks. It’s a map of Greenwich Village. If you don’t know the school, you wouldn’t know where it fits on the map, but it’s in the middle. I’ll zoom in more.

See the yellow shape in the middle with a red star and blue rectangle? I couldn’t zoom in enough, but that’s the block with the school and playground. The blue rectangle says PS 41, the school’s name. The rectangle sits on the map where the school sits in reality. If you scroll back up to my first picture of the schoolyard, you can see the PS 41 building in the upper right, the blueish-turquoise building with grass on its roof. It’s hard to see from my picture, but a gate lets kids from that school into this playground.

In other words, the red star marks on the map the playground. In particular, the red star marks where the red star is.

It’s the only map I’ve ever seen where the “you are here” marker doesn’t just represent where the marker is. The marker is where marker is, both on the map and in reality.

I’m not saying it’s big or important, but I find it mind-bending and fun, especially if you’ve heard the phrase “the map isn’t the territory” or read Gödel, Escher, Bach, which explored recursion, self-reference, representations, symmetries, and such.

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1 response to “The most amazing “You Are Here” map you’ve ever seen

  1. Pingback: More recursion after last week’s recursive map post » Joshua Spodek

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