As much as we would like to take comfort in believing our GPS is the knower of all things, how many of us are guilty of a full blown navigation meltdown when directed to turn right at a non-existent street? Does, 'There is no bloody road there you stoooooopid ‘effing twit!' sound familiar?Well, the fact is; maps can be wrong, and not just wrong by accident, but on purpose.
You see in a bid to protect their work map-makers created fake towns, known as paper towns, so they could stop other cartographers from copying their drawings. This clever trickery also accounts for legitimising an argument for copyright because while a map cannot technically be subject to copyright, creative work is so by making obvious mistakes map makers can claim their work is creative.
Mark Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps, gives several examples of imaginary entries made that into real maps, the most infamous of which may be a fake mountain peak named Mt Richard in Boulder, Colorado. That particular is said to likely be the work of its draftsman Richard Ciacci. It is not clear if ol' Rich was just trying to protect his work or just wanted a mountain named after him but you’d be one pretty peeved mountaineer to get all the way up the Rocky’s and find out your map was wrong, right?
Google maps is even suspected of creating a paper town called Argleton, near the town of Aughton in West Lancashire. When the UK’s Telegraph reported on the town, which appears in Goggle maps as nothing but green field, the company thanked them for identifying the error and said the map would be “updated at a later date.” But years later it’s still there and many wonder what Google is playing at – some suggesting that the town name is an anagram for “Not real G”. Real cheeky Google.
Old maps of london are also have many so-called “trap streets” and other peculiarities from cartographers, including one London A-Z street directory that includes a Ski Slope in Haggerston Park.
Most recently the town of Agloe, New York, a town that wasn’t, then was, then wasn’t again, was made famous by the John Green novel, Paper Towns about kids who go searching for a phony place.
The story of Agloe goes that in the 1930s, map-makers placed a fictional town called Agloe on a map of Delaware county, New York state. While the town was fake in 1950, a general store was built in the area and the owners called it Agloe General Store, which legitimised the town’s existence. While the store is now closed and nothing is there the remnants of Agloe is acknowledged on other maps, including Google.
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