Who Defines New York's Nabes? For Starters Look to These Amateur Mapmakers

In New York, neighborhood boundaries are big business. Just ask any real estate agent who's tried to pass off a Gowanus apartment as being in Park Slope. Since the city does not officially define boundaries, amateurs are filling the void.

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.

 

Full Story: Amateur Mapmakers Redraw Boundaries, Working Online

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