Maps are fascinating and, when accurate, also useful. A map placed in an upright frame on the sidewalk at 13th and F streets NW, outside. The Shops at National Place, if fascinating,but in some ways not terribly useful.

The map tries to chart downtown Washington's future -- as much as several years into the future. That, one presumes, is to save money for map revisions.

Why, otherwise, does the map show the Gallery Place redevelopment, where they haven't yet torn down the buildings that are to be replaced by that problem-plagued and uncertain project?

The map also tries to be helpful to those who might want to shop at Hecht's. As we all know, Hecht's is at Seventh and F streets NW, and won't move to its new Metro Center location until mid-1986.

But the map shows Hecht's as already being on G Street, where the future store is now no more than a construction site. Not only that, but the map shows Hecht's on G Street between 11th and 12th streets. Truth be known, it's being built between 12th and 13th streets.

So much for saving mapmaking money by anticipating the future.