How 7,500 More Reader Drawings Changed Our New York City Maps – US 247 News


Since we published this extremely detailed map of New York City neighborhoods last week, readers have sent in more than 7,500 new submissions from across the city.

These submissions have brought 36 new neighborhood names to the map (you can see them now!) — places like Starrett City, Beverly Square West, Lefferts Manor, Wingate, the Broadway Triangle, Pigtown and The Hole.

(A New York Times article from 2004 described The Hole as akin to a Wild West frontier town on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, with “dusty streets, stray dogs, ramshackle corrugated tin structures and even a few cowboys.” Some of them kept horses.)

Names representing immigrant enclaves — like Loisaida in Manhattan, Little Haiti in Brooklyn and Little Yemen in the Bronx — have also made it onto the map.

Below, all 36 new additions to the map.

The updates show more divisions of larger neighborhoods with some compass direction added — like Crown Heights North, Southeast Annadale, South Village. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether directional modifications like these are describing just, say, the north part of an existing neighborhood or a different place altogether. Some make geographic sense, while others don’t at all. Some have a more established history; others, less so.

Take an established neighborhood like East Elmhurst in Queens. It is mostly not east of Elmhurst (it’s north), and it doesn’t actually even touch Elmhurst. They are separated by Jackson Heights.

South Midwood and West Midwood are both north of Midwood. The West Village and the East Village are both directionally “correct” in relation to Greenwich Village (aka the Village), but they describe very different places. North Williamsburg and South Williamsburg (or the Southside or Los Sures) are also not the same, but most who submitted them as neighborhoods consider them still part of the whole of Williamsburg. (Don’t get us started on East Williamsburg.) North of Little Italy, or NoLIta, is now its own place, stronger in some ways than what it is north of.

So does Crown Heights North count as its own neighborhood, distinct from Crown Heights? How about west Chelsea? Or Hell’s Kitchen North? In our minds, the goal is to be as inclusive as possible. If, according to our data, more than 1 percent of people who live there use these names to describe their neighborhood, we add them.

So those three, and 33 more, are now on the map because enough people use them to describe their neighborhoods. We’ll see if they grow into their own more distinct places — shown in our map by getting your own color — like South Slope (nee Park Slope), South Ozone Park (nee Ozone Park) and East Harlem (nee Harlem).

The “West Bronx” is also on our list of additions, which makes sense, given what we heard from many readers in the Bronx: that they don’t use neighborhood names (with the exception of Riverdale) as much or in the same way as the rest of the city, often preferring a major avenue or landmark to an actual name. From one commenter:

Take it from someone who grew up in the West Bronx, who knew only West and East Bronx. I remember being confused when the parlance changed to South and North, with Fordham Road being the divider, and the “disappearance” of the West and East Bronx.

And another:

When the Bronx was made infamous by the media for “burning,” the term “South Bronx” going, presumably, from river to river was coined. Gradually, this term kept extending North practically to Westchester.

Some argued that the borough as a whole had a stronger sense of identity than the four others — da Bronx! — and “didn’t fall victim to self-differentiation.”

It’s an interesting idea: that part of the reason neighborhoods split into smaller units is to distinguish them from their surroundings and establish an identity of their own. Maybe that’s what keeps the Bronx just the Bronx.

And ultimately that may determine whether Crown Heights North becomes as accepted as South Slope.

One final note. The map (like the city!) is a living thing, and we’ll keep updating it regularly as people send in more data. So if you agree or disagree with the neighborhood borders you see, draw your own here.