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"Interpreting the colored lines, areas, and other symbols is the first
step in using topographic maps. Features are shown as points, lines,
or areas, depending on their size and extent. For example, individual
houses may be shown as small black squares. For larger buildings,
the actual shapes are mapped. In densely built-up areas, most individual
buildings are omitted and an area tint is shown. On some
maps, post offices, churches, city halls, and other landmark buildings
are shown within the tinted area ..." For more information on reading maps, see USGS Topographic Map Symbols.
What is a Topographic Map?
"A map is a representation of the Earth, or part of it. The distinctive characteristic
of a topographic map is that the shape of the Earth's surface is shown
by contour lines. Contours are imaginary lines that join points of equal
elevation on the surface of the land above or below a reference surface,
such as mean sea level. Contours make it possible to measure the
height of mountains, depths of the ocean bottom, and steepness of slopes.
A topographic map shows more than contours. The
map includes symbols that represent such features
as streets, buildings, streams, and vegetation ..." -- USGS Topographic Map Symbols