clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who Names the Neighborhoods in The Digital Age?

Why is Dumbo on a map of Brooklyn and Rambo is not? Dumbo was an acronym born as a ridiculous joke concocted by anti-development artist residents of the Brooklyn waterfront district to discourage its gentrification. Rambo (Right Around the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) was viewed as a marketing gimmick peddled by a real estate broker. The New York Times looks at the practice of defining neighborhoods in a digital age—specifically by Google, which enables crowd-sourced cartography with its Google Map Maker tool. The company relies on unpaid designated editors to sift through competing claims and make determinations about where neighborhoods begin and end and what they should be called.

The Times specifically looks at a Brooklyn chef named Matthew Hyland, who was chosen to accept or reject proposed changes to Google's map of Brooklyn. Lisa Keller, the executive editor of The Encyclopedia of the City of New York told the paper that "Anyone who says there is a defined neighborhood is off his rocker." In places like Internet comment sections, however, others argue over the exact border-streets separating neighborhoods as if imminent war between any two is a distinct possibility. We personally love browsing the archives of our Neighborhood Names stories, reminiscing about the ProCro controversy, the Chibeca non-starter, and the LoLo incident. Thank goodness that bill to stifle ridiculous neighborhood names was unsuccessful.
· Amateur Mapmakers Redraw Boundaries, Working Online [NYT]
· How Dumbo Got Its Name [dumbonyc]
· Neighborhood Names [Curbed]