A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Brad Morris
Date: 2016 Jun 30, 19:18 -0400
Since the topic of GPS maps and which way the map is presented as up is being discussed, I thought I'd throw my two cents in.
I prefer course up. That is, when the GPS advises me to turn right, the right hand turn is displayed on the map as a right. It doesn't matter which way is North. It's an irrelevant fact. The turns are presented by the GPS as a series of lefts and rights. Which ever way the front of my vehicle is pointed, the displayed map is pointed that way too. No need for some twisting of the map back and forth in mental gymnastics, translating from right to NNE to get, hey, I just missed my turn! I've got to worry about traffic and a series of turns through a strange city, not the compass direction.
If you really want to understand which way is North, consult a compass. If you mistakenly end up going south on a northbound route, the GPS will soon correct you. Not by indicating a North South transposition, rather, by a series of left/right turns that will get you back north. Without saying North or South once.
And yes, I still carry my bag of paper maps (North up) with me wherever I go, as a backup I just haven't consulted one for a very, very long time.
"when I landed in Christchurch and rented a car I could drive around and know where things were because the map was north up - just like driving around Paris or Toyko. "
At first that made sense, but then as I thought on it more... no, not really. For city maps, there are some useful conventions, but it really makes almost no difference whether north is up. What counts most is an alignment with the street grid or with some geographic feature of the city. Indeed, the greatest metropolis on Earth is frequently mapped with some orientation other than true north "up". Quite common are maps like the two attached below --one a real map, the other a famous comedic map-- which do not even show a cardinal point "up" and instead align with the axis perpendicular to the main axis of Manhattan, roughly NWbW, near azimuth 299°. It is natural to align maps of Manhattan such that the streets and avenues match the axes of the map, which places them about 29° off the cardinal compass directions.
Maps of cities built along straight coastlines are often aligned with the coast running left-right. Many maps of Barcelona are laid out this way with northwest (very close to azimuth 315°, exactly NW) "up", and some maps of Chicago, especially older maps, are aligned with west "up".
Clockwork Mapping / ReedNavigation.com
Conanicut Island USA