Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How to Find Your Neighborhood on a Map

Virginia is full of quaint little towns that are shown only on detailed maps. People who live in these towns become accustomed to telling other people where they're from and hearing, "Where's that?" or "Is that a place?" They form a habit of telling people, "It's not on the map."

When I was growing up here, Gate City was on the map in the World Book, but not in the Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia or in many other reference works. Nearby towns like Weber City, Yuma, Hiltons, Clinchport, Speers Ferry, Nickelsville, or Dungannon, weren't on any map small enough to be printed in a book.

Now, however, Virginia has an official online map here:

http://www.virginia.gov/connect/mapping-center

...and you can not only show people that your town exists, but show them its claims to townhood and its major tourist attractions. When the page opens, you type in a zip code. This opens a detailed highway map of the area. Then you click on any of a whole list of attractions, from schools and libraries to public boating and bird watching areas, and cute little images pop up on the map. You can even see driving directions.

Also, if you've been away from your town for a while and don't know who your representatives in the state legislature are this year, or if you'd like to let them know that you support a bill but you don't know their e-mail addresses, the Mapping Center Page has that information too. (The conscientious ones are working overtime while the Legislature is in session, so please use the system wisely.)