A Coordinated City—2C

A Coordinate(d) City—2C

6/12/08

Kenneth Burchfiel

For someone to understand any map or overview of Albeit, they must first be familiar with two things. The first is the Canton system; it has been covered in a previous article. The second, perhaps just as important, is the structuring of the city around geographic coordinates.

Albeit was planned and designed in the midst of a navigation renaissance; new Global Positioning Systems, if not handheld, made it much easier to locate one’s place on the world. The preliminary Albeitian government chose to capitalize on this trend by making their city “Navigationally Inclined;” their hopes were to construct a city that was GPS-friendly in all aspects.

It was a strange goal, but they certainly achieved it.

The innards of Albeit might have been designed at the whim of landscape architects, but the city’s skeleton was inspired by geography. Each of the eleven Cantons, or partitioned neighborhoods, takes up one square minute in area. Stranger yet, the borders of each Canton fall exactly on the start point of latitudinal and longitudinal minutes, meaning the roads running in between them (Canstras) simply overlap the lines one might find on a globe. (The central point of Albeit, for example, is located exactly at 44 11′ N, 111 44′ W. The palindrome these coordinates create is a common sight on T-shirts and restaurant windows.) Things remain oriented underground; each and every Inter-Canton subway system lies on the intersection of a longitudinal and latitudinal minute. Never mind that barely any GPS works in the tunnels.

It’s difficult to say whether the geographic touch paid off. Albeit did become a prized destination for the navigationally inclined, but most residents reflect on the perfectly oriented streets and fine-tuned layout with a shrug. Most people are happy enough that the roads are smooth and the trains punctual; the alignment is just icing on the cake.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that some of Albeit’s residents would take the coordinate system to a new level. As the years progress, more and more neighborhoods are exchanging their traditional house numbers for a geographic alternative: the exact location of their home, in seconds. With just as many roads showing the latitude or longitude line on which they run, finding a destination can be as easy as whipping out the GPS and punching in the coordinates. One popular mapmaking company in Albeit, “Inside the Box,” has used the unique layout to its advantage: instead of listing properties by address, it provides geographic coordinates for unnamed buildings and encourages readers to discover their identity.

Many would claim that the geographic quirks to the city are anachronisms from a positioning satellite-obsessed era. Then again, the system doesn’t have to be practical to be appreciated. Albeit has always been a place that loves to distance itself from the mainstream; if it takes a layout based on coordinates to make the city unique, so be it.

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