Maps

Mapping Every City’s Most Scenic Routes, One Photo at a Time

The "Geotaggers' World Atlas" follows the path of Flickr images.

In Washington, D.C., the area around the national mall is spotted with selfie sticks and duck faces. Every city has a picturesque spot or two where the probability of a photo being taken at any given time is pretty high. Now there's a world atlas of maps showing the routes people follow while taking these pictures in every city around the world:

Mapbox's Eric Fischer has been working on the "Geotaggers' World Atlas" for five years, using locations of photos uploaded on Flickr over a decade. In his city maps, which now span the world, he connects the dots between subsequent photos taken by a photographer—representing their path in sketchy lines that criss-cross across the city.

In a blog post announcing the release, Fischer explains that these clusters of geo-tagged photos are good indicators of how interesting that neighborhood or street is:  

It signifies that people went there in the first place, saw something worth taking a picture of, and put the extra effort into posting it online for others to appreciate. And a sequence of photos along a route is even more significant, because it indicates that someone sustained their interest over distance and time rather than taking one picture and turning back.

For Fischer, this longterm project has come with surprises, illuminating the arteries of unfamiliar cities—varying in density, size, and population. To see the most visually interesting parts of these cities (or find out where to avoid those darned selfie sticks) check out these beautiful static maps below:

Beijing

(Mapbox/Eric Fischer)

Tokyo

(Mapbox/Eric Fischer)

San Francisco

(Mapbox/Eric Fischer)

Istanbul

(Mapbox/Eric Fischer)

H/T: Fast Company

About the Author

  • Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering demographics, inequality, and urban culture. She previously contributed to NPR's Code Switch blog and BBC's online news magazine.