Debra e-mailed a few weeks ago with a photo of a map on an advertising kiosk in the Back Bay. At first glance, it looks like a fine map — there’s the Common, the State House, and even a little icon to guide visitors to the swan boats — except that it doesn’t show, well, the Back Bay.
“This map is at the corner of Clarendon and Boylston. But it does not show that corner,” wrote Debra, who lives in the Back Bay. “I have stopped repeatedly to help tourists who don’t know where they are, and I tell them it’s OK because they’re not on the map!”
She continued, “This particular map just doesn’t make sense at the major visitor intersection where it is positioned.”
And it’s not the only one. A similar map at the corner of Clarendon Street and St. James Avenue shows the same not-so-helpful cartographical vista.
So what’s the deal?
The maps are a feature of the 17-foot advertising kiosks managed by the advertising firm JCDecaux that dot large swaths of the city.
Peter O’Sullivan, director of the city’s street furniture program, said local officials were well aware that the maps weren’t exactly optimally designed.
They’d received calls from residents with a different complaint — the “you are here” sticker affixed to the map was in the wrong spot. After staff went out to investigate the problem and fix the stickers, they saw that some of the maps didn’t have any stickers . . . because the kiosk’s location didn’t appear on the map.
But, O’Sullivan said, the city has just concluded a months-long process to design new maps — which would have needed to be replaced soon anyway because of a two-year schedule for updating.
The new maps will be different based on where they are located. They’re being printed by JCDecaux, O’Sullivan said, and some of them will appear on Boston streets as soon as the middle of this week.