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Curious, when destination is a city only where does Garmin..

I'm curious, where does Garmin take you when you choose a city as your destination? I recently did this when I was doing a simulation, and was surprised that it didn't take me where I expected. I thought the default location for a city was the main post office, but, at least for the locations I have tested, it isn’t. So, now I'm curious to know if there is any rhyme or reason to where it takes you? Or, is it just some random place in each city?

My GPS is a nuvi 2797LMT with 2.70 software and 2013.40 map

Below are the steps to test where it takes you when you choose Issaquah WA as your destination. These instructions are for nuvi 2797LMT.

1. Enable GPS Simulation mode.
Press Settings > Navigation > GPS Simulator. Check the box.

2. Set Location to a place, such as a library, within the city you are testing.
a. Press Where To?
b. Set “Searching near” to Issaquah, WA
c. Type Library where it says “Enter Search”
d. From the list displayed, press “Issaquah Library”.
e. Press the info icon.
f. Press Set Location.

3. Choose a city, and go there.
a. Press Where To? > Categories > Cities. For Enter Search, Type “Issaquah”
Observation Do not type “Issaquah, WA” as this will return a blank list.
b. From the list displayed, press “Issaquah, WA”
c. Press Go!

4. Answer Yes when asked “Simulate driving this route?”

5. Wait until you have arrived, then press the vehicle icon (default is a blue car) to display “Where Am I?”. For me, Where Am I? Nearest Address says 150 E Sunset Way; Issaquah, WA 98027. While, Post Office-Issaquah is at 400 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, WA 98027. And, Issaquah only has one post office.

So, I'm curious, is there any rhyme or reason to where it takes you when your destination is a city (without an address)? Is it just some random place in each city?

This is such an informed group, I decided to post and see is someone here might actually know the answer, or have some insight to share.



  • SergZak 341 Points
    In my experience, routing to a city will route you to it's civic center.
  • t923347 533 Points
    My experience has been that it uses the approximate center of the down town area. I've seen it near City Hall or a Post Office but also some other location like a major intersection. Personally I use it all the time to calculate time and distance when planning a trip but would rarely use a Cities search for exact routing.
  • philhu 91 Points
    If you zoom out, you will see a dot by the name. That is where you will be routed to.

    I use city to get close. Then change my destination to a real address. It seems to like main roads/highways to get to a city
  • popej 57 Points
    City is simply a point on a map. Can be placed anywhere. Your question really is what rules have used map designer to set this points. This would depend on publisher and probably on country, if data comes from some national resources.
  • roadster 96 Points
    I placed in Issaquah , and it pulled up:

    SE Newport way & front st N

    Small city .

    SO if I typed in a city Like Newark NJ, it brings me to a fork & knife, and more or less, a post office is across the street?

    it is a medium city.

    If I type in New York, brings me to Chambers st and Broadway a symbol looking like a briefcase or purse.

    And that is Nellys Botuque this is a large city

    NY info came up fastest

    Mode car distance time, and fuel

    So how it is picked is beyond my thinking
  • kenp 92 Points
    I wonder if they use a location consistent with the rule for "distance to" signs specified in the DOT Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices:

    "The distance shown should be selected on a case-by-case basis by the jurisdiction that owns the road or by statewide policy. A well-defined central area or central business district should be used where one exists. In other cases, the layout of the community should be considered in relation to the highway being signed and the decision based on where it appears that most drivers would feel that they are in the center of the community in question."

    That's in the US. I presume other countries have similar rules.

    So Garmin's points tell us what Garmin (or Navteq?) thinks the happening place is in each city.

  • roadster 96 Points
    I wonder more often how they make you travel, a bus route a subway route etc,
  • Boyd 2027 Points
    Perhaps they use the USGS GNIS system? This is the source that most authors use for the maps your will find at GPSFileDepot. Of course, Navteq may very well have their own ideas. :wink:

    Does this match what your Nuvi shows for Issaquah?

    This is kind of cool too:
  • wfooshee 91 Points
    I'm not sure why this is confusing. It's not "picking" anything.

    The city name is entered into the map database with a coordinate. Whoever made the database chose the coordinate. It might be "downtown," it might be what they saw as a geographical center, it might even be what they saw as the zero-point for the street addresses.

    Regardless, it's an arbitrary point in the city, and the GPS isn't using some mysterious rule to select the point. It's using the point defined in the database with the city's name as its label.
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