Melissa HanhamHello, World!

Greetings fellow Wonks. My name is Melissa Hanham, and I’m the new ACW contributor on the block. I work for Jeffrey and a lot of my day-to-day involves applying technology to policy problems. If its got a map, a model, big data, little data, software, hardware, or satellite imagery, I’m probably into it. And, excited about it. And, I want to tell you about it.

I taught myself, often the hard way, often in the field, and so I’m hoping to use this space to write explainers, how-tos, and do a bit of myth busting. Oh, and geo quizes! That’s right, Wonks, we’re into participatory learning here. So take your feet off the sofa and roll up your sleeves.

A few weeks ago Jeffrey and I taught an AWESOME workshop on geospatial analysis at UC Berkeley. Turns out, I’m a bit of a sadist, and I tortured some grad students… and some undergrads… and some members of the national labs :/

Most of them figured out at least one of these in the 30 minutes allotted. See if you can too!


  • Post the coordinates in the comments
  • EXPLAIN how you got your answer
  • Don’t peek!

Where were these photos taken? (Double click and double click again, to see them bigger)





  1. Graham J. (History)

    #3: 34.392020, 132.484817

    1. It’s a baseball stadium
    2. Traffic appears to be left-hand drive
    3. What country is left-hand drive, train friendly, and interested in baseball?
    4. Wikipedia: List of baseball parks in Japan
    5. Starts inputting names into Google maps
    6. Third try’s a charm!

  2. SQ (History)

    No time for coordinates, etc., but the first is somewhere in Riga, going by the Latvian words on the window, the second is a hotel in Busan — the name is right there on the awning — and the third is the pro baseball stadium in Hiroshima. Cars are driving on the left, and of all the stadiums in Japan, you would pick Hiroshima, wouldn’t you?

    • krepon (History)

      Have been to see the Hiroshima Carp play, and I recall (perhaps incorrectly, that the infield is dirt.

  3. HB (History)

    My guesses would be:

    1) Riga, Latvia
    56.958201° 24.124746°

    2) Busan, Republic of Korea
    35.180669° 129.202022°

    3) Hiroshima, Japan (Although I guess you could argue for “in orbit” or words to that effect)
    34.391901° 132.484984°

    The Hiroshima stadium is susceptible to reverse Google image searching. The first two can be found by image searching the name of the restaurant chain and motel respectively.

  4. KimJongSnuggles (History)

    Confirmation on the Hotel in Busan:

    Latitude: 35°10’49.46″N
    Longitude: 129°12’7.28″E

    The hotel name did give it away. Naver had a number of entries, but Google took me straight to the correct one. The trees in the back right matched the geography, and the geo-tagged photos on Google Earth acted as confirmation.

  5. wrorke (History)

    Street view in Riga shows that Cili Pica is no longer there. That explains why I could not find it by checking all the Cili Pica addresses.

    So how’d you find it?

  6. melissa (History)

    Hi All,

    Great work!!

    Various readers hit most of the major points I was trying to underline.

    For Image 1:
    Dmitri pointed out the (not too obvious) phone number and Alex pointed out the reflection of “Double Coffee” in the window. I LOVE reflections!

    For Image 2:
    Lots of people found it by seeing the name in Korean, but what if you could not speak Korean or even recognize the writing? One nifty way to figure it out is to use Google Translate, where you can hand draw characters that you may not be able to type easily. You could even use the OCR function on the Google Translate app on your smart phone if you so desired. Technically, this is not the only hotel named “White Castle,” the windmill decoration and the beach hopefully helped.

    For Image 3:
    Graham and others saw the traffic flow was on the left side and narrowed it to Japan! The train tracks hopefully helped too. Go Carps!

    Thanks for playing!

  7. Cthippo (History)

    Welcome aboard, Melissa!

    I was about to ask if you were Canadian given I’ve only heard the term “geo quiz” on CBC, but then I did a little checking and remembered that it’s from PRI which is international.

    • melissa (History)

      Yes, I am Canadian. BONUS POINTS: you get the honor and the honour.

  8. Mark McCall (History)

    Result – Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium Hiroshima. Location 34.3925° N, 132.4840° E

    Method – Simple Google reverse image search leads to a Japanese page. Used Google translate to find reference to Hiroshima. Google map search for “Hiroshima Ballpark” to verify. Total time – 3 Minutes.

  9. P (History)

    Funny, I solved #1 completely differently. I searched Google for Cili Pica, then searched again for “Cili Pica Grila Sezona”, found this ad : , copy-pasted its text (in the video description) in Google translate, got the answer that this was Latvian, searched “Cili Pica Latvia” on google maps, then performed a quick brute force search on the results. The building was easily identified.

    As for #3, after noticing this was in Japan (because the cars were driving on the left), I simply searched “baseball stadium Japan” in Google images and found the answer.

    I also tried solving #2, but concentrated on the name of the combi store instead of the hotel, so I didn’t found it in the allotted 30 minutes.