Intern Report—Ladders for Leaders


I’m Elizabeth, and I’ve been interning at Mapzen’s NYC office for the past six weeks. I discovered Mapzen and its internship program through the Summer Youth Employment Program’s Ladders for Leaders which helps provide professional internships to NYC youth.

Before starting here, I had no experience with maps or open source, and had only just begun programming a few months ago. I had no idea about the kind of tasks I’d be working on, and had no working experience with any of the tools and languages mentioned on the internship listing. Though learning about new coding languages, tools, and frameworks for each task was daunting, it gave me the opportunity to learn a lot over a short period of time.

Most of what I’ve done is related to Mapzen’s website. I worked on pages that displayed statistics on developers and projects, where I gained working experience in Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I also added a new feature to blog posts so that you can read a brief author biography beneath each post. Look out for that soon!

During my last week, I focused on a new project. Using Leaflet, I created a map using a Tangram layer that displays data from the Gazetteer, an open, comprehensive data set of the world that describes countries, regions, cities, neighborhoods, and their relations to one another.


This map started as update of Aaron Cope’s classic but defunct “I Am Here” map which was one of the first back in olden times to make it easy to copy the latitude and longitude of the center of a slippy map. In addition to dynamically updating the lat/lon, our map shows the names of the neighborhoods, localities, and regions as the user drags the map. (It can also jump to the user’s current location, or a city from a predefined list.) Although still in its early stages, this framework will eventually allow us to check for and add more location names, and find out where we’re missing data.

Beyond programming, I’ve also learned more about the mapping community, open source, and open data, and its importance. I’ve had plenty of fun working with the Mapzen team too! My summer at Mapzen was definitely both invaluable and enjoyable.