The District’s GIS data catalog is a treasure trove of interesting information. I created maps from that data and posted some each day last week. They looked at DC’s land use, the Metrobus system, Zipcar locations, buildings versus open spaces, and city topography.

Figure Ground

The figure ground map is a silhouette of building footprints. The whole of DC and Arlington is on the left, with a detail of Dupont Circle at right. Click either image for a larger version.

Simplified land use

The official DC Zoning and Comprehensive Land Use maps are incredibly detailed and useful tools that serve specific, necessary functions. They’re also incredibly complex and difficult to read at a glance.

I wanted to see a map that showed DC’s land use in the very simplest terms, to know where the commercial streets are, to see how downtown might reasonably expand, and to see where redevelopment is most likely (commercial properties are more likely to redevelop than residential ones).

The following map shows predominantly commercial areas in red, predominantly residential ones in yellow, and everything else in gray.

For those interested in Washington as a living and working city, this is the city at just about its most bare.


Here’s the Metrobus system, shown alone and geographically accurate.

Geographically accurate Metrorail maps are pretty easy to come by, but I’ve never seen the Metrobus system all on one page, stripped of other detail.

Zipcar locations

There’s a regional map at left, with the urban core at right. Click either for larger versions.

Note that to keep these maps simple I’m not putting much on them in regards to geographic reference points. I’m assuming that most readers are familiar enough with regional geography to read the maps without street labels or other detailed reference material. That information could be added, but I’m interested in seeing these with as little visual clutter as possible, and I assume that at least some of you are interested as well.

City topography

Interesting features that are clearly visible include Capitol Hill, Rock Creek gorge, the Anacostia bluffs, the floodplain escarpment at the north end of the L’Enfant city, the heights of Tenleytown (culminating at Fort Reno for DC’s highest point), and a large hill which Fort Totten sits atop.

Click for larger version.