Just as the demographics of many neighborhoods can drastically change over time, so too can their names. For example, DC residents no longer claim to live in “Swampoodle” or “Pipetown”. Other neighborhoods are created as real estate marketing exercises, such as North End Shaw.
The New York Times recently reported on residents of various cities finding their neighborhoods misidentified by Google Maps. UrbanTurf decided to see whether the same is happening in DC.
While Google isn’t taking much creative license when it comes to DC neighborhoods, some unfamiliar names that stood out to us were Westover Place and Westchester, which are the respective names of a condo townhouse community in Wesley Heights and a historic co-op building in Cathedral Heights, apparently extrapolated to newly identify the surrounding streets. Another that rang false is “West Over View” in Southeast, just off the intersection of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues.
One neighborhood identity that is more debatable is “East End”, labeled as the area to the southeast of Union Station. According to Wikitravel, this is the correct name used for the downtown area prior to the upheaval following Martin Luther King’s 1968 assassination; it is still used formally, although it has fallen out of favor informally. Ward 7 Councilmember (and former mayor) Vincent Gray has more recently attempted to co-opt the moniker as an alternative to “East of the River”.
A more glaring feature of Google Maps’ rendition of the District is the omission of a number of neighborhoods, including Riggs Park, Fairfax Village, Kalorama and Civic Betterment; others, like Penn Quarter and Mount Vernon Triangle, may not show up when browsing the map but do in a Google Search. Readers, does Google Maps have your neighborhood correctly identified?