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Building Footprints

Current Version: 0.08

Released May 11, 2009

Download Building Footprints for PC  (12.3 MB)
Download Building Footprints for Mac  (12.0 MB)

Have data to contribute? Visit the Switchbacks Data Submission page!

General Information

This is a mapset that displays shaded polygons representing the footprints of buildings in cities in the Northwest that have offered this data for public use on their web sites. The cities currently included are:

  • Seattle (full coverage, limited differentiation between building types, no building names)
  • Spokane (full coverage, no building names)
  • Bellevue (full coverage with some overlap into Redmond et al., limited differentiation between building types, few building names)
  • Kitsap County (full coverage, limited differentiation between building types, no building names)
  • Bellingham (full coverage, limited differentiation between building types)
  • Anchorage (no residential buildings)


Building Footprints is made to be "transparent", which means that when loaded with other Mapsource products (or the GPSr base map) the building footprints appear as data laid over the top of the other maps. Building Footprints can also be loaded directly to the GPSr on its own. Custom type definitions are used to help distinguish building types.


Here is a view of what Building Footprints looks like from within MapSource. This is a shot of downtown Spokane. Note that the building footprints will not appear until you zoom in to the 500 foot zoom level or below. (This is when the MapSource map detail setting is at its default of "Medium"; setting the map detail level higher or lower will change the zoom level at which the footprints appear.)

MapSource Screenshot


The installation of Building Footprints is straightforward. It can be utilized from within Garmin's MapSource software (on PCs), Garmin's RoadTrip software (for Macs) or uploaded directly to your GPS unit (using freely available utilities).


The accuracy of the data used to create these maps varies greatly. These maps are to be used for reference purposes only. The author(s) are not responsible for any inaccuracies and no responsibility is assumed for damages or other liabilities due to the accuracy, availability, use or misuse of the data presented. Installation and use of these maps is at your own risk!


For use from within Garmin's MapSource (on PCs), download the .zip file from the link at the top of this page, unzip it, and then execute the mapset installer. This program will install the map files and register the mapset with MapSource. Within MapSource a new mapset product entitled "Building Footprints" will be available in the Product drop down selection list (or from the View | Switch to Product menu option).

For use with Garmin's RoadTrip (on Macs), download the .tgz file from the link at the top of this page, unarchive it into the resulting .tar file, then unpack that to a .gmapi file. This file can then be installed into RoadTrip with MapManager and onto the GPS receiver with MapInstall.

GPS Usage

The Building Footprints mapset should overlay any other mapset present on your GPS unit. It is important to note that when you upload maps to your receiver, the existing mapset on the unit will be deleted. This means that if you want Building Footprints to overlay City Navigator maps, for example, you will need to upload the chosen City Navigator maps along with Building Footprints all at once. To switch between mapsets (if more than one has been loaded to your GPS) simply toggle the hide/show settings for the desired mapsets on your receiver.

Support this Effort

If you find Building Footprints useful and would like to see more data added, or new mapsets created, please consider supporting this effort in one (or more) of the following ways:

Feedback & Referrals

All feedback (comments, corrections, questions, etc.) is welcome and encouraged. Please direct all feedback to the email address shown at the top of this page. I try my best to reply to every email I receive but it is not always possible. I do read every email and appreciate the feedback.

If you like this mapset please let others know about it. More people using and supporting this effort means more additions and corrections are possible.

Monetary Contribution

This mapset is free to download and use but if you find these maps useful please consider making a donation to help offset the costs incurred in producing and offering them (software licenses, website hosting, etc.).



Several software applications are used in the production of this mapset:

  • ArcGIS
    Used to merge and cull datasets and edit fields.
  • Global Mapper
    Used for the majority of data manipulation and for digitization of paper maps.
  • cGPSmapper
    The primary tool for compiling the data into a Garmin map file.
  • GPSMapEdit
    The visual interface that handles import of the data and export into a form that can be compiled by cGPSMapper.