Thursday, February 19, 2009

L.A. Times Unveils Its Los Angeles Map, Braces for Deluge of Response

There are few subjects more controversial to Angelenos than how they describe their neighborhoods. The debate over where the "Westside" and "Eastside" are has been waged for years. And neighborhood boundaries are hotly contested, particularly when it comes time to sell your house or compute property values.

After years of getting grief over using conflicting neighborhood names, the Los Angeles Times is trying harder to get it right. The paper just unveiled its Mapping L.A. initiative, an evolving map of Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Bob Pool writes about the map:

Years in the making, it is designed to be a tool that will allow reporters and editors to be consistent when describing neighborhoods in news stories in a city that sometimes seems to change the names like most people change socks.

Dorothy Parker famously said Los Angeles was "72 suburbs in search of a city," so it's not surprising that residents take their neighborhood names so seriously. Those designations are part tradition and history -- but also part economic and political. Many residents see big differences in property value if you live in tony Hancock Park as opposed to more working-class Mid-City.

In the Valley, there's a grand tradition of seceding from traditional neighborhoods. Parts of gritty Van Nuys have become Valley Glen and Lake Balboa, while a portion of Canoga Park re-christened itself West Hills...

Fortunately, those who disagree with the map have a chance to persuade the newspaper's mapmakers to reconsider. Readers can use the interactive website to redraw any section of the map they feel is incorrect and submit the alteration for editors' consideration. And editors may be busy.

The L.A. Times map doesn't get into hyper-specific neighborhoods -- although you could argue that it needs to include more, such as Little Tokyo.

The city of Los Angeles currently recognizes 172 communities, at least according to the late, lamented L.A. City Nerd. (The Nerd's campaign to photograph every L.A. neighborhood sign lives on, via Flickr.)

LAist also recently embarked on a project to designate L.A. neighborhoods.

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