Saturday, March 14, 2009

Google Map of Toronto Neighbourhoods

Toronto Star Neighbourhood Map

One of my favourite newspapers is The Toronto Star, mainly because of Patrick Cain's Map of the Week column. Last week's Map of the Week was a Google Map of Toronto Neighbourhoods. The map shows each of Toronto's districts as a clickable shaded polygon. Clicking on any of the shaded area opens an information window that tells you the name of the neighbourhood.

After publishing the map The Toronto Star was inundated with comments, e-mails and letters about the map from its readers. The replies to the map were in many forms, "congratulations, suggestions, and pleas from overlooked communities for a spot on the map". This overwhelming response goes a long way to show that our identities are in part shaped by our immediate geography and that it can be very hard in cartography to define the often fluid boundaries of communities.

To help decide on the borders of the neighbourhoods the Toronto Star used "a distillation of history, guidebooks, common usage, the local knowledge of Star staffers and the many suggestions of readers." They have decided to ignore the names / areas created by business groups and by eager realtors.

A response from David Wencer, a member of the West Toronto Junction Historical Society, perhaps best sums up the Toronto Star Neighbourhood Map,

"There is no completely 'correct' way to make (the map). Local BIAs and residents' associations can't even agree.

"That you know this, but are nevertheless aspiring to make it accurate, is noble indeed. You are encouraging the city to contemplate the various communities which make this city terrific (in itself a worthwhile accomplishment!)."

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