12 October 2018


A MAP OF EVERY BUILDING IN AMERICA (See > Nation of Suburbs: Mesa, AZ]
"Most of the time, The New York Times asks you to read something. Today we are inviting you, simply, to look.
On this page you will find maps showing almost every building in the United States.
Why did we make such a thing?
We did it as an opportunity for you to connect with the country’s cities and explore them in detail.
To find the familiar, and to discover the unfamiliar.
So … look.
The nation’s expansion shows itself: The clustered development of the original colonies flowed west, with scattered cities and towns linked, like beads on a string, by rivers, highways and railroads.
Every black speck on the map below is a building, reflecting the built legacy of the United States.
Use the search bar in the THE NYTIMES LINK farther down  to find a place and explore the interactive map above . . ."
These images are drawn from a huge database that Microsoft released to the public this year. The company’s computer engineers trained a neural network to analyze satellite imagery and then to trace the shapes of buildings across the country. Such information has been available before in some places, but this is the first comprehensive database covering the entire United States.
In some cases, we have augmented the data with information from state and local governments that have collected their own.
We found fascinating patterns in the arrangements of buildings.
Traditional road maps highlight streets and highways; here they show up as a linear absence.
Where buildings are clustered together, in downtowns, the image is darker, dense.
As suburbs stretch out with their larger lawns and malls, the map grows lighter.
Your eye can follow the ways that development conforms to landscape features like water and slopes.
You can read history in the transition from curving, paved-over cow paths in old downtowns to suburban sprawl
You can detect signals of wealth and poverty, sometimes almost next door to each other.
It all reveals what Andy Woodruff, a cartographer, calls
“the sometimes aesthetically pleasing patterns of the built environment.”
These images don’t just reveal cityscapes; they reveal ourselves.
Below, more details on what the map reveals about the structures that surround us.
> History Made Apparent
> The Imprint of Geology
> Traces of Distant Culture
Mesa, Ariz. America’s suburban streets twist and flow, with their wild involutions and curving cul-de-sacs. Mesa’s suburbs are especially imaginative, particularly from above. The feeling of meandering through a place whose layout is designed to thwart speed and comprehension is familiar to anyone who, in the days before GPS, needed to pick up a friend or deliver a pizza in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Barbara Berasi, Larry Buchanan, Guilbert Gates, Baden Copeland, Monica Davey, Conor Dougherty, Manny Fernandez, Adam Nagourney and Julie Shaver contributed to producing this project.
Data sources: Building footprints from Microsoft. Washington, D.C. building footprints from the city.
Note: In some cases, the building shapes generated by Microsoft's automated process do not match the existing building footprints exactly. We manually corrected as many of these mistakes as we found, or, where available, replaced the shapes using more precise local data sets.

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