This Story Starts with an Irresistible Map


First there was a challenge. My cousin Margaret invited me to climb the very tall "Triple Nickel" in San Francisco - 52 flights of stairs - for a fundraiser to benefit the American Lung association called the Fight for Air Climb. Worthy cause! Worthy challenge!  (donate if you can).  Well of course the most appropriate way to train for the event was to spend all my time on data viz.

Stairs, the City… my city.  I used to climb up stairs from the Castro to Noe Valley weekly just to get to my favorite cheese store,  drink late at night at the top of the stairs on Sanchez Street and look at the lights of the city (and dream, drink, curse, kiss), walk my dog when he was a wee Husky pup up the Montalvo stairs just to try to wear out his energy,  crashed on a motorcycle on one of the steepest grades in the city and had to walk bleeding down the  22nd Street steps.  If you went on these Stairway Walks in San Francisco these stairs would tell you tales… they would tell you the Tales of the City.  I need a viz that wasn't just about the climbing stairs, but about how the stairs are characters of the city as well.

When the Giants won the 2010 World Series, my friend Amy Charles got a Dave Eggers poster that captured the fans he encountered during the series and what it meant to them, their stories.  Borrowing from this style I spent a lot of time gathering stories that people had posted about each of the stairways on Yelp, and other blogs.  Hover over a stairway and in many cases you can see random stories.  My favorite is for Baker Beach….

Then a real live pink pony with a glittering, rainbow tail and mane, that fit in my purse,  appeared.  "Daddy I one of those, NOW", I said, channeling my best Veruka Salt.


I wanted a Stamen style map in my Viz!  No problem actually, as I could easily design it and export it as an image.  Then I could just use it as background image in Tableau after assigning some Lat, Long coordinates to it.  Viz done… booyah!

Wait, I can't drill into the map and zoom and stuff?

Captains Log… Feb. 6th.  Love the look of my knock off from China town.  I think Shrimp Boy may have had a hand in it even, but I want a real pink pony...

And the adventure began:

Feb. 7th  Your New MapQuest Developer Network Account

Feb. 13th Open Street Map 

Feb 28th  Google Maps Gallery

March 4th  Mapbox and TileMill

March 5th Allan Walker - help…..!  ? "Since you are the king of Tableau Maps, I wanted to see if you had any suggestions?"