#200: The metro map. It’s pretty and easy to understand because (I learned) it’s a stylized representation of the system, so that the distances on the map are not related at all to distances in real life.
After I had been living in DC for years and using the metro every day, I found out that the metro map is not a real map and instead is more of a pretty picture of the general direction that stuff is in. You can’t overlay the metro map on the DC map because it wouldn’t mean anything, it turns out.
Anecdotally I know this is true because I know going from Dupont Circle to Shady Grove takes about a million years, but I never thought about how that meant that the map was just a picture. And then someone told me and it changed my life. Really.
The bad part about the map not being a real map is that it makes people think that MetroCenter and Chinatown are really far away when really they are just two blocks away. This makes people, especially tourists, want to transfer and do ridiculous things to get from one to another. Don’t be that person, just walk.
The good part is that it’s so gorgeous that they even print it on shower curtains. Also, the stylized map is easy enough for tourists to understand, which cuts down the amount of people I have to give directions to.