What’s in a (neighborhood) name? For those involved in their local communities and neighborhood issues, a lot. Neighborhood names and boundaries define our communities, their history and their grass roots governance, at the most basic level possible. So when you’re dealing with traffic issues, neighborhood watches, historic designations or new development, it really does make a difference whether the area you’re talking about (or living in) is Koreatown or Windsor Square, Miracle Mile or Sycamore Square, or Carthay Circle or Carthay Square…all of which are officially distinct neighborhoods with their own neighborhood associations, representation on local Neighborhood Councils, and boundaries recognized by the City of Los Angeles.
For many years now, though, realtors, media outlets and others have relied heavily on the Los Angeles Times neighborhood maps when referring to neighborhood names and boundaries. But many people who live in and represent their neighborhoods in various ways have objected to the Times’ designations for not following city-recognized borders, and for lumping many smaller neighborhoods into larger, more indistinct areas such as “Mid-Wilshire.”
This week, however, the LAist blog alerted us to a new neighborhood mapping project, the work of a man named Eric Brightwell, who has combed numerous available sources and histories to develop a much more fine-grained view of “every L.A. neighborhood.” The result is available in the map below…and at first glance it seems to be a big improvement over clunkier versions like the LA Times maps. There definitely are nits to pick (e.g. he lumps Fremont Place in with Windsor Village, and West Adams Heights in with Harvard Heights, just to name a couple; the LAist story comments section is full of others)…but any project that can correctly locate tiny Sycamore Square between Miracle Mile and Brookside seems to be at least heading in the right direction.