Cartographer Travels 10,000 Smoots For A Valentine

Published February 14, 2011

Boston cartographer Andy Woodruff walked and boated through Boston, Somerville and Cambridge — GPS unit in hand — to create this nerdy valentine. It’s a Google Map.

[googlemap height=”400″ title=”A Cartographer’s Valentine”],-71.069355&spn=0.070783,0.137157&t=p&z=13[/googlemap]

Woodruff documented the journey in words and pictures, too. He learned a lot about our city in the process:

First of all, finding a decent-sized heart shape in the local street system is not quite as easy as I expected. It is certainly much easier than in a city with a strict rectilinear grid, but a heart requires something like an octilinear (transit map style) system, ideally with ample curves. Boston’s streets may not be well-organized overall, but they do follow some order within neighborhoods and don’t leave a lot of options for hearts. As it turns out, the key here—and totally the best thing about this project—was to make use of the Charlestown Navy Yard–Long Wharf ferry, something I had yet to experience in my time living here.

So why do this? Apparently this is a thing with map makers. “After concluding that simply projecting or arranging maps into heart shapes has been played out, I decided to work for it this time,” Woodruff says on his cartography blog.

Speaking of nerdy Valentines, NPR has some for you die-hards out there.