Locating Positions in New York State

When we look at maps that cover large areas, like world maps it is possible to describe the location of a point to the nearest degree of latitude and longitude.  However, most maps that we use cover a much smaller area like a city or state.  In these cases, it is highly unlikely that a point will fall perfectly on a line of latitude or longitude, so we have to be able to describe points between degrees.

Between Degrees

To describe points located between degrees we have to use degrees and minutes.  Every degree can be broken up into smaller units called minutes.

1 degree = 60 minutes

For example, if we look at point A on the map to the right we can see that it is located between 18 and 19 degrees North.

  • Between 18 and 19 degrees there are 60 minutes
  • Since A is about halfway between them, then it must be halfway between 0 and 60 minutes...30 minutes!
  • So it is 18 full degrees and 30 minutes North

Location A = (18o30'N, 77oW)

 

Example 2:

Point B is located between 77o and 78o West. 

  • Between 77o and 78o are 60 minutes
  • Since B is about halfway between them, then it must be about halfway between 0 and 60 minutes...30 minutes!
  • So it is 77 full degrees and 30 minutes West.

Location B = (17oN, 77o30'W)

 

 

Example 3:

Point C is located between 15o and 16o North. 

  • Between 15o and 16o there are 60 minutes.
  • Since C is about 3/4 of the way up from 15, it must be about 3/4 of the way between 0 and 60 minutes...45 minutes!
  • So C is15 full degrees and 45 minutes North

Location C = (15o45'N, 79oW)

 

Example 4:

Point D is located between 19o and 20o N latitude, AND between 78o and 79oW longitude.

  • Between 19o and 20o there are 60 minutes
  • Since D is about 1/4 of the way up from 19, it must be about 1/4 of the way between 0 and 60 minutes...15 minutes!
  • So the latitude of D is      19o15'N
  •  
  • Between 78o and 79o West there are 60 minutes
  • Since Dis about 3/4 of the way from 78, it must be about 3/4 of the way between 0 and 60 minutes...45 minutes!
  • So the longitude of D is       78o45'W

Location D = (19o15'N, 18o45'W)

Locating Positions in NYS

NYS bedrock geology map.jpg

If we look at the NYS map on page 3 of the reference table (also shown at the top of this page), most of the cities in NY fall in between degrees, so we must use degrees and minutes to describe their location.  

Ithaca: 

  • Latitude is halfway between 42o and 43o N - Latitude = 42o30' N  
  • Longitude is halfway between 76oW and 77oW - Longitude = 76o30'W
  • All together Ithaca = (42o30'N, 76o30'W) 

 

 

Jamestown:

  • Latitude is between 43o and 43o N, but not halfway.  Latitude = 42o10'N
  • Longitude is between 79o and 80o W, but not halfway.  Longitude = 79o15'W
  • All together Jamestown = (42o10'N, 79o15'W) 

 

 

Landscape Regions of NYS

Landscape Regions map.jpg

We can also describe locations in NYS based on the landscape region they are in.  On page two of the ESRT we can find the Generalized Landscape Regions map (also shown above).  Here we see that New York state can be divided into large regions.

These regions are based on the bedrock geology.  This fact becomes clear when you look at the two maps side by side: 

NYS bedrock geology map.jpg
Landscape Regions map.jpg

Notice that the shapes of the landscape regions match up with the different types of bedrock shown on the Bedrock Geology map.

To find out what landscape region a city or location falls in, you must first locate it on the bedrock geology map.  Then flip to the Landscape region map and look in the exact same area. 

For example: 

  • Ithaca is located in the dot pattern area in the Southern part of NYS on the bedrock geology map.   
  • If we look at the same area on the Landscape Region map we see that Ithaca is located in the Allegheny Plateau Region.