Mapping lunch

One of the projects I’ve had in mind for a while now was to list or map the downtown lunch carts, because for some reason no one seems to have done so yet (at least, I can’t find anything on Google). So this weekend I learned how to work with the Google Maps API in order to create a map of Portland lunch carts. After entering 41 carts into an xml file, I can see why maybe no one bothered with this before. There are way more of these than I realized, and I’m sure my list is incomplete. Plus trying to get the dots in the right spots involved a lot of tweaking.

The page isn’t really finished yet, but with the main parts in place, I thought I’d show it off. I haven’t had a chance to test it on Windows or with IE yet, so if anyone notices funny display issues, would you send me a screenshot?

My plan is to add a feature to let you map only a single type of food at a time, which will both reduce clutter on the blocks that have 15 carts and make it easier to tell at a glance which ones have Thai food. So that’s why there’s an oddly empty section to the right of the map.

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6 responses to “Mapping lunch

  1. If you’re interested, I have plenty of javascript for doing stuff like setting markers and changing forms variables from a click on a Google Map. You could use that to make the data-entry side a lot easier. Click where you want the marker, select what kind of food it is from a list, and it generates the KML entry or (with a small amount of cgi coding) sticks it into a database.


  2. There was one on that I saw about a month ago. I believe it was centered around a 10 min walk from Pioneer CH Square.

  3. That’s a pretty coool idea — but don’t the carts change position/ownership often enough to make it impossible ot keep current?


  4. Fish: Might be handy. I think I’ve got things set up well enough for this project, but I’ve got other mapping ideas to try next.

    Rafa: Thanks for the tip. Looks like they have both restaurants and carts, but I’ll look later to see if they mention any I missed.

    David: The carts are actually fairly well entrenched, which irritates some of the local restauranteurs, because they don’t like competing against people who only have to pay for parking, rather than rent in a building. I think it’s pretty clever. Sometimes you see a cart change ownership, and there’s one area that had several carts leave (maybe the lot overcharged for parking?) but in the six months I’ve been working downtown, almost all of the same carts have been in the same places every day.

  5. The guy who owns Greek Cusina is at the vanguard of the anti-cart movement (perhaps related is his crusade against downtown panhandlers); but that place is full of meshbacks and skanks anyhow, and you can get better food plenty of places around there.

    As for the continuity issue: the carts in the parking lots pretty much live there, and I wouldn’t expect much greater turnover than you would have with restaurants in actual storefronts (5th & Burnside anyone?). It’s the sidewalk carts that are more ephemeral and perhaps more difficult to keep track of (though the burrito guy across from my work has been there for at least 4 years).

  6. Cool map Audrey! I emailed the link to Tammy, who works downtown🙂