The Search for Washington Place Names


Washington Bridge, NY – Google Map Image 2014

This past fall semester I began helping with the George Washington Atlas project. This project, in association with Mount Vernon, looks at George Washington’s legacy both at home and abroad. Specifically, my section of the project is titled “George Washington Scavenger Hunt.” My role in this project is to locate every single thing in the world named Washington – yes, everything. This includes, but is not limited to: streets, bridges, oceans, statues, schools, and even park trails. This project covers all the bases in attempt to show just how popular the name Washington is around the world. And there are quite a few Washington place names,

It is no surprise that many of the landmarks that I’ve discovered on this project have been located in the United States. For starters, I am a student at Washington College, located on Washington Ave., which is merely an hour and a half from Washington D.C. With this in mind, I began by Google searching GIS data for all fifty states. I combined my findings with ESRI data of the United States to discover 6,975 total landmarks in the United States named Washington. Attempting to find world points was a much more challenging endeavor. To do this, I used National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Geonet (NGA) name server and OpenStreet Map. After combing through the NGA data, as well as the massive 31 GB OpenStreet Map data, I was able to discover 554 world points for a grand total of 7,529 landmarks in the world with the name Washington.

Although this project has extended into this spring semester, is complex, and at times frustrating, I really enjoy working on the

Google Images

Google Images

George Washington Atlas project. I learned a great deal about the geography of the world and just how popular Washington’s name is. Over the course of this project, I was able to further develop my problem-solving skills. For example, the world data I gathered was recorded in multiple languages – unfortunately, not English. As a result, I had to find English translations of the points sought after and ensure they were included in my data set. Due to the George Washington Scavenger Hunt, I have become a well-rounded and more competent member of the Washington College GIS Program.
– Jeff Sherwood, 2016