Michael Grynbaum profiles the amateur mapmakers that are utilizing "the democratizing force of the Internet" to make the discrete distinctions on which New York's "status, self-identity and resale values" are based. And this DIY cartography, notes Grynbaum, is no innocent hobby: "Their judgments are far-reaching: Google Maps, which provides user-generated outlines for every city neighborhood, is consulted much more often than any Rand McNally atlas."
"A result is a new class of unsung urban arbiters, empowered to turn one's uber-hip NoHo apartment into just another East Village walk-up, for all the world to see."
"Ask the professionals, though, and they will question the very notion of a formal, down-to-the-intersection neighborhood grid, like the one presented by Google," writes Grynbaum.
"Anyone who says there is a defined neighborhood is off his rocker," said Lisa Keller, executive editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City, a meticulously researched tome of five-borough facts.