Subway map defined by Instagram tags

Ever wondered what the trends are in your city from a tourist’s perspective? A new project called #tagsandthecity (Stylized) is using social media data to transform public transport maps into a comprehensive survey of Instagram hotspots. The maps rename subway stations based on nearby Instagram tags, giving viewers a new perspective on the city's most popular locations. In the New York version, instead of taking the downtown C train to Spring Street, the station is renamed #cronut, in reference to Dominique Ansel's flaky delights nearby. In London, Paddington station is now #paddingtonbear because it has such an adorable life-size bronze statue that delights visitors waiting for the Tube. Sounds like a really good way to travel to me!

The project began two years ago, when Berlin-based journalist and co-founder Tin Fischer and programmer David Goldwich began analyzing Instagram data. Fisher was curious about which season had the most rainbows and used the hashtag #rainbow to track their occurrences. However, he soon realized that Instagram’s data represented more than just a rainbow. "Instagram gives us a real picture of how people live, eat, celebrate or travel today," Fisher tells Bustle in an email. "We wanted to apply this information to the geographical grid that everyone has in mind when moving around the city. This, of course, is the metro map." So Fischer teamed up with Berlin-based programmer Andrea Rohner and Paris-based architect and map designer Jug Cerović collaborated, pooling their talents to create #tagsandthecity.

So far, the team has mapped subways in Berlin, New York, London, Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area. Each city's metro map shows the 100 most popular stations and their corresponding Instagram tags. When asked what city was next on the list, Tin responded: “Maybe Barcelona? It’s an interesting mix of historic architecture, distinct restaurants, beautiful scenery, mass tourism, and subcultures— —And cities by the sea always have particularly beautiful maps.”

Fisher believes this new combination of cartography and social data could provide a handy guide for first-time visitors and long-term residents trying to orient themselves in a new place. “On the one hand, viewers can find places they didn’t know before, even within their own city. (I lived in Berlin for over a decade and thought I knew the city, only to find out I didn’t.) Exploring these maps both Fun and entertaining.”

Since Instagram limits access to its current data, the hashtags for these maps are from 2014 trends. However, the outdated data is still fairly consistent with what we might find today, as many of the hashtags refer to restaurants, landmarks, shops, and yes, quite a few "tourist traps." Even Fischer's local underground station in Berlin is named after a famous food. “When I tell people I live near Bellevue, the answer usually goes like this: ‘Oh, where’s the cafe that sells these famous Baumkuchen?’ That’s where people connect with my station the most , now it’s literally called #baumkuchen.”

The maps are available for purchase in poster form from the #tagsandthecity website, and you can sign up for their newsletter here to find out if the hashtag map is coming to a city near you.

Image: Courtesy of #tagsandthecity