Tuesday, February 5, 2008

they got the maps wrong at DCA

here's a little geographic nerdiness for you. i was waiting at the luggage claims at DCA last weekend, and i snapped these two pictures of the map of the airport terminals:

notice anything weird about them? the first one shows the airport correctly, but the second one is a mirror image of how the airport is actually laid out. the old-fashioned A terminal is hanging off the wrong end of the airport in the second map.

way to mess that one up, DCA. maybe next time, you should hire a better cartographer to make your map. i wonder where one could find a decent cartographer in this town?!??


monkeyrotica said...

Well, at least they got rid of the sea serpents next to the compass, as well as the "Here there be monsters" scroll.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I do say, they should have done business with those fine and peachy cartographers at www.cartisan.com!

Unknown said...

Did you happen to think of which way you were facing when you snapped the two photos? Because if so, the maps are actually accurate.

If I was facing the entrance of DCA, then Terminal A would be on my left -- however if I was facing the airport (as if I had just walked in the doors) then Terminal A would be on my right.

IMGoph said...


yeah, i thought of that. but if you think about your orientation with relation to the airport and the map, then the second map would only be correct if your point-of-view originated in the ground below the airport. that's untraditional cartographically, at best.

the top map is oriented as if you were looking down on the airport from above with the roof taken off. if you were to make the second map in the same fashion, you'd have to not only mirror the image, but rotate it through an axis outside of the map plane as well.

Unknown said...

@imgoph & michael -

Although there is a compass rose, they've neglected to indicate just which way is north... of course, this is the entire purpose of this most basic of map elements.

Regardless of the orientation, the map is wrong. The only way that it could possibly be right is if the author was underground, upside-down navigating a mirrored reverse version of DCA.

IMGoph said...

just an FYI, james g, the compass rose is the logo for the metropolitan washington airports authority

Unknown said...

Thanks, imgoph. Wow, the laundry list of cartographic ambiguities just keep on a'comin.