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There are many cities in OSM that only (seem to) exist as relations and other cities that exist as both relations and nodes. What determines which type of elements are appropriate for a particular city?

(This may apply to places larger or smaller than cities, it's just what I'm focused on at the moment).

Here's a brief example:

asked 15 Sep '20, 00:26

nocathere's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Think this question points to the issue of whether to tag place=city on it.

(15 Sep '20, 03:05) Kovoschiz

That's quite likely. I'm new to OSM, so I'm still figuring out the nomenclature and definitions.

(15 Sep '20, 16:21) nocathere

The relations in your example represent administrative areas. In some places administrative boundaries may not be available in a form that allows people to map them (or they may be available now but not in earlier years of OpenStreetMap). Even if they are available, the areas may not represent what people generally refer to as the "city". Some countries may not have an administrative division that closely matches the concept of a city, or the city limits may not be very meaningful due to accidents of geography. For example the municipal boundary where I live includes a heavily populated strip along the coast, but also a far larger unpopulated area inland, so that the centre of the admin area is far from the urban area. Use of a node and a relation allows users of the map to find both concepts depending on what they are looking for (admin boundaries and the urban settlement).

By the way, in your example Olympia does in fact have a place=city node:

permanent link

answered 15 Sep '20, 08:55

alan_gr's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

Thank you. I'll dig in to the data some more to see how to get what I'm looking for. I'm leaning towards using nodes for my "city database" and relations to provide boundaries where possible.

Regarding Olympia -- that's interesting. It doesn't show up here:

whereas Seattle's node does appear in its relation. The node also does not show up when you search for Olympia. Is this just a data issue or some choice based on some criteria? e.g. Seattle is way bigger, so is it eligible for some data structures not available to smaller nodes or relations, that allow its nodes to be surfaced by searches?

(15 Sep '20, 16:26) nocathere

You'll find such situations often in OSM. Someone created a stub relation, someone else extended it, a third person created the city node but did not care about the relation. Map quality and completeness is constantly improving with every edit made.

Feel free to be the next mapper adding that node to the relation. It is already in the relations for the state and the county.

(15 Sep '20, 18:49) TZorn

I see, OK. Thanks. I'd like to try to contribute. I'm having no luck so far but I'll keep at it. This is obviously an issue for a separate post, if it comes to that.

(15 Sep '20, 20:34) nocathere

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question asked: 15 Sep '20, 00:26

question was seen: 1,038 times

last updated: 15 Sep '20, 20:47

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum