California GNIS

This data set is one of my favorites. Ever wonder how Google got all of the names of mountains and lakes and geysers, etc. into their Terrain View maps? No? Okay. Well, they use the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the United States Board on Geographic Names. GNIS points show both cultural and physical features, which is why you will see a concentration of points in and around cities, and more scattered points throughout the more mountainous regions of California. You will see that there are fewer points in the Central Valley and the Desert, mostly because, there are more indistinguishable characteristics (example 1, example 2) across the landscape. Moving on, if we strip everything away, and just show California’s GNIS points, this is what we get…



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