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Top 5 S.F. maps not intended for navigation

 ‘Tis tourist season so expect to see visitors wearing visors and fanny packs squinting at their city maps while strolling on the Embarcadero. As locals, we don’t need a map for navigation, but there’s still some pretty creative cartographers out there. Here are five of our favorite San Francisco maps to get lost in.

Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City is perhaps the most ambitious attempt so far to map out the intangible infrastructure of our city. In the late 19th century, phrenologists believed that intelligence and character were related to the shape of the skull. Here, Solnit applies the same pseudoscience to map the temperament of the city.

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In the not-so-distant future, Brian Stokle and Burrito Justice survey the imagined devastation of the 2072 post-ice cap San Franciscan Archipelago. If you think Dolores Park is a zoo on the weekends now, just wait until Cape Dolores is also the best beach in (what’s left of) town.

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The most interesting maps rarely just tell us where we are, but also who we are. Here’s a literal example: prolific cartographer, Eric Fischer, used census data from the year 2000 to construct an ethnic map of the Bay Area. With each dot denoting 25 people: red is white, blue is black, green is Asian, orange is Hispanic, and gray is other.

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Imagine that each time an arrest was made, the ground beneath the feet of the offender rose by a few inches. In 2010, Doug McCune used SFPD crime stats to create a series of maps with various offenses, including assault, robbery, and prostitution, re-imagined as varying elevations. The jagged terrain pictured above shows the distribution and frequency of DUI citations throughout San Francisco in 2009.

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As both a source and a setting, San Francisco has always been a writer’s town. Ian Huebert pays tribute to our city’s literary heritage by overlaying its cartographical likeness with a few well-placed quotes.

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