“Where the Streets Have No Name,” Mapped

Slate's Culture Blog
June 3 2014 9:06 AM

“Where the Streets Have No Name,” Mapped

Last month we pointed readers toward a map of where the Proclaimers, if they would walk 500 miles, and then 500 more, would walk to. This map was not technically accurate, cartographically speaking, as cartography blogger Kenneth Field chronicled in some detail. But it did inspire Field to think of what other song lyrics could be mapped.

The result is the map below, reprinted with Field’s permission. The map shows, according to Field, all 3.5 million streets with no name (which are highlighted in gold, à la the album art). You can click on the map to view a zoomable version:

Click to view a zoomable version

Map by Kenneth Field used with Field's permission. Field also asked us to include these acknowledgements: "Tom Tom data used and published under licence using Esri technology."

Over on his blog, Field—who is also a professional cartographer, a former cartography professor, and the editor of The Cartographic Journal—explained how he put it together:

First, start with a nice healthy dataset of all streets in the contiguous USA and use some Geographical Information Systems savvy to process it. I'm fortunate to have access to the 2012 version of the Tom Tom data for North America which contains over 15 million street segments.

Second, apply a few of query analyses to extract any street segment without a name, discounting outliers like connectors, ramps, slip roads and such like.
Advertisement

According to the map, Bono should stick to rural areas, while avoiding Vermont and Maine. The Joshua Tree album art was photographed in the Mojave Desert, but if Bono really wanted to show you “a place high on the desert plain …” with lots of unnamed roads, the map suggests that perhaps he should have stuck to the High Plains and Great American Desert of Texas.

Previously
Where Were the Proclaimers Actually Walking to? Mapped.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

The Strange History of Wives Gazing at Their Husbands in Political Ads

Television

See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 30 2014 11:42 AM Listen to Our September Music Roundup Hot tracks from a cooler month, exclusively for Slate Plus members.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 2:56 PM How Faithful Is David Fincher’s Gone Girl?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 2:38 PM Scientists Use Electrical Impulses to Help Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.