Why We Love It

Maps of accessibility show the distribution of people in a city and the transportation networks around them. We love how this map puts a destination into the story: jobs. It’s no longer just about how close you are to a transit stop, but rather how many jobs you might access once you get on that bus, subway, or train. How many jobs are within your reach? How far do you have to travel to get to the workplace?

Why It Works

The purple-to-green contrast instantly pin-points areas of high or low job accessibility. You can also see the subtle transition zone of everything in between. The juxtaposition of the transit access map with the job accessibility map adds a nice touch by providing detailed transit locations and walkable distances to each stop. It also illustrates how transit connects people to what they need. In this case it’s jobs.

Important Steps

Download job accessibility shapefiles for each of the 46 metropolitan areas from University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory.

Append all shapefiles into a geodatabase.

Create symbology using graduated colors. Evaluate how the color distribution across those class breaks conveys concentrations of transit-accessible jobs.

Choose complementary colors that blend well into one another and clarify the high-to-low story.

Once the map is working well at the target scale (in this case 1:1,155,000), zoom to each surrounding web scale to identify any needed improvements at that particular scale.

Create a map service (cached tiles), make it public, and share as a web map, app, or story map.



Use the shapefiles provided by University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory. They utilized the 2010 US Census blocks, the US Census Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD), 2011 Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES), OpenStreetMap (OSM), and General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data.


After downloading the open-source shapefiles from the Accessibility Observatory, we needed to decide what symbology would best convey the detail and variation of the jobs accessible throughout the city.


It takes one day to download the data, create a ModelBuilder tool that appends all 46 cities to a geodatabse, run the tool, create the symbology, and cache the map.

Extreme Values


In the type of mapping where you are most interested in extreme values, use complementary colors with neutral hues in between. This ensures stunning and effective cartography.

More Information

Map Author

Jennifer D Bell

Jennifer D. Bell


As a storyteller and mapmaker, I continually strive to find the art in cartography. My job is to create innovative, thought-provoking, and eye-catching maps that tell stories people are interested in - stories that, hopefully, will foster a positive change in our society.

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