please empty your brain below

That's been nagging at my unconscious brain for years!
This kind of post is why I read your blog every day. Excellent.
Other oddities include Northchurch, top left, which is simply the northern suburb to Berkhamsted, itself smaller than Chesham or (A)mersham.
New Haw? (straddling the - incorrectly coloured - M25 near Woking)
It doesn't need to be done by algorithm to produce the effect described. Sometimes the cartographer is just looking for any place to indentify in an otherwise unpopulated area. One example would be Namche Bazar in Nepal.

One of the most ridiculous entries identified places I have seen is Three Ways in Australia which was marked on an A4 world map. At the time it consisted of a petrol station and a small caravan park.
@Dan, me too... well, maybe for six months; I don't remember seeing it before then.
Thanks, DG.
A brilliant bit of DGery. Take some geeky point that many people will have noticed but few bothered to find out more about, and turn it into a fascinating vignette of what early C21 London is actually like.
If I remember correctly (which quite often I do not) maps used to have "small errors" so publishers knew if someone had copied them?
I also like the fact that if you zoom out far enough, Basingstoke becomes 'Town Centre'.
Fantastic post!
Cartographers are becoming an extinct species. But thank you Google and DG for this entertainment.
........from a nearly redundant cartographer.
Excellent. Noticed this when I checked out the new map version and looked it up to see where it was, but that didn't tell me much about it. Plus, now I know what a shtreimel is. Bonus! :)
The progression when you zoom in on Google Maps is difficult to explain.

Layer one (maximum zoom out) has just country names (some missed out in Europe), with state or province abbreviations too in the USA, Canada, Brazil and Australia.

Layer two has the state/province names in full, most capitals (Switzerland still not labelled; Vaduz but not Bern, Tallinn and Vilnius but not Riga; no Reykjavik), and some smaller cities (Milan and Turin as well as Rome, but just London in the UK). There are only a few cities in the US (New York and Dallas but not DC!) and relatively few in China but lots in Japan.

Layer 3 (concentrating on Europe) adds roads and more regional cities (Glasgow not Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, London, not Manchester or Newcastle, not Belfast). Still no Bern or Geneva, but Zurich instead. Vaduz disappears. Zagreb and Budapest and Tirana, but not Sarajevo or Ljubljana or Belgrade. Isle of Man in bold, the same font size as Denmark.

Level 4 (concentrating on the UK) has Leigh-on-Sea, Tilehurst, "Town Centre" (aka Basingstoke), Truro and St Ives (in Cornwall). Sunderland, not Newcastle. Birmingham replaced by Stoke-on-Trent, and Manchester added. Elgin, Inverness, Perth and Dundee in Scotland

Level 5 replaces Leigh-on-Sea with Southend-on-Sea, Tilehurst with Reading, but keeps "Town Centre". Stoke-on-Trent disappears and still no Birmingham. Braintree, Beccles and North Walsham, Louth and Blyth. Newcastle, finally.

How are they making these decisions?
This is type of post I enjoy reading and why I return everyday. Dg describing the small idiosyncrasies of the great city of London.
Traveling back from Crouch hill to Barking on the Overground this morning I was checking my progress with google maps on my 'phone. That was the first time I'd ever seen the name Cazenove on the map. Strange synchronicity that you're posting about it today.
Andrew, think 800-pound gorilla re making decisions.
At some zoom levels, the little village of Copenhagen's name disappears from Google Maps.
Sheer genius!
As soon as I saw the post, I thought this must lead to Cazenove Road. I went there back in 99 for a work related task, and marvelled at the Muslim and Jewish residents living side by side. Fascinating area.
Isn't Cazenove an example of a Trap street in the Google Mapping data?

If you copy the Google Map image (say with a press of PrtScrn) and then reuse it, Google can tell that's what you have done.

dg writes: I doubt Cazenove is a Trap Street because a) it's not a street, b) it actually exists. It's merely inappropriate hierarchical information.

As wonderful as your blog is, I can't help noticing that - as a long-term user of the Google Maps API on - that you have started making unfounded alligations about the system.

Which, given your usual level of research is letting the side down.

"built by algorithm, not by cartographers"

Google employ a whole army of cartographers.

If you use the Google Mapmaker to make corrections to the maps - you get to talk to Google's cartographers.

I can't help noticing that you are making unfounded allegations about DG.

Google maps is labelled using algorithms. There is just too much evidence to suggest otherwise.

A classic is Albertopolis which, because it has a Wikipedia entry complete with co-ordinates, Google Maps does, or used to, pick up on it and use it. Ditto, some entries such as a description of the M25 appearing in a foreign language.

Google may have cartographers, or people who call themselves that, but they are merely there to correct dud information or add legitimate valid stuff. I am sure DG is correct in that it is the alogrithm using search data that initially creates it.
And indeed it is well publicised by Google that a lot of it is automatically generated!
@Pedantic of Purley

Let me be Pedantic for a moment: the dictionary defines cartographer as "a person who makes maps". Being snooty about Google's maps seems against your normal nature.

Of course the Google maps are computer-generated.

That why you can STYLE them youself using the API: see and

Having worked in the past with the Ordance Survey dataset: it too is immense database and the maps are generated by code.

I'm really struggling to think when the last generation of mapping ended - when the data was collected and CAD programmes were used to set maps "by hand". Must be a couple of decades ago.

I can't think of the last useful map that I used that was produced "the old way". Must have been in the 1980s.
Kirk: There are many "layers" of information in Google maps datasets.

The sourcing and ownership and then visibility depends on the product you are using.

And, of course, most recently, the main Google Maps system now uses your own personal search history to tailor what you see on the map.

For example, when I call up Google Maps on the web and I look around London, all of the places I have worked or visited in the last few years appear marked.

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