A comprehensive map of pseudo-public spaces in London published by Guardian Cities and Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC (GiGL).
More on the privatisation of public space
How to catch a copycat criminal when it comes to map making? To protect their work – collecting data, drawing, check spelling etc. and constantly double checking with what is really out there – companies use a simple trick. This is to add small fake cities, streets or houses to the maps they produce. If someone copies the map, instead of producing a genuine one, the company will be able to identify the copycat criminal by indicating the artificially introduced features that do not exist in reality.
Agloe, a city on the maps of New York, was such a copyright trap. It was added by Otto G. Lindbergh and Ernest Alpers from General Drafting Co. to a road map in the state of New York that they made in the 1930s. A few years later it appeared on a map of the rival firm Rand McNally. Lindbergh and Alpers had every argument at hand to bring legal proceedings against the makers of the new map.
However, Rand McNally could prove that the place exists. They could show that there is a shop at the place in question that is named as ‘Agloe General Store’. The fake place was transformed into a real place through a series of events: The shop owner found the name on a map. The map was issued by Esso. Esso obtained the map from Lindbergh and Alpers. The shop owner used ‘Agloe’ from the Esso map to name his store.
‘Agloe General Store’ has vanished since. However, Agloe still appeared on Google Maps a few years ago. Whilst Google has removed the name since, the US Geological Survey added Agloe to the Geographic Names Information System.
John Green uses the myth of Agloe in his novel Paper Towns. The book was adapted into a film. Fans of book and film have recently reopened search for Agloe. Today, there is a sign where the coordinates appear on the map.
This is a video map of a concierge control tour, a so-called block check, which I have recorded together with concierges of the Red Road flats in Glasgow in 2006. During a block check, the concierge would systematically walk down and control the stairs from the top to the ground floor. The map is clickable and it was originally integrated in the Highrise Project website. In the ‘The living building‘ I write about block-checking as an urban practice and how it contributed to the viability of this tall building. And it did so, even when back then, it was officially known that the flats will be demolished in the near future and clearance had already started. The building, in which the block check was recorded, was demolished on 10th June 2012.