Amateur Mapmakers Reshape New York Neighborhoods Online – NYTimes.com
Reshaped and renamed by generations of developers and gentrifiers, the borders of New York City’s neighborhoods are often hazy at best. Yesterday’s Chinatown is today’s east TriBeCa; a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant may, after some real estate alchemy, morph into a citizen of Clinton Hill.
These distinctions, with status, self-identity and resale values at stake, can often lead to heated disputes, so much so that a state assemblyman, Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, introduced a bill, the Neighborhood Integrity Act, in 2011 to tamp down the tension. (The bill failed.) And City Hall offers little help: the city has never codified neighborhood boundaries, leaving profit-hungry brokers and civic activists to fight it out.
But now, thanks to the democratizing force of the Internet, dozens of amateur cartographers are reshaping these lines themselves, taking advantage of malleable Web sites — including Google Maps and Wikipedia — to provide their own definitions for where, for instance, Park Slope ends and Gowanus begins.