Phantom Streets and Map Traps

I ran across a post at The Map Room today which brought up the mysterious means by which cartographers protect their work. In order to ensure that their work isn’t copied wholesale, they set up map traps””?fake streets are common””?that will be dead giveaways if an unwary carto-plagiarist pilfers them. See this group of emails in the alt.folklore urban newsgroup. Cartographers aren’t the only ones to create fake entries. Encyclopedias also have traps in wait, as do dictionaries. Read here. As a child growing up in rural far western Massachusetts I was always struck by some streets that were listed on maps but that I could never find even a trace of. Well, now I know why.

I ran across a post at The Map Room today which brought up the mysterious means by which cartographers protect their work. In order to ensure that their work isn’t copied wholesale, they set up map traps””?fake streets are common””?that will be dead giveaways if an unwary carto-plagiarist pilfers them. See this group of emails in the alt.folklore urban newsgroup. Cartographers aren’t the only ones to create fake entries. Encyclopedias also have traps in wait, as do dictionaries. Read here. As a child growing up in rural far western Massachusetts I was always struck by some streets that were listed on maps but that I could never find even a trace of. Well, now I know why.

2 thoughts on “Phantom Streets and Map Traps

  1. Massachusetts
    Hey, where in western Mass did you grow up? I’ve recently moved to Pittsfield from NYC (my wife is a Berkshires gal and couldn’t take the big city), and I’m starting to get to know the area. (I’m adjusting surprisingly well to life away from the city; of course, it’s the internet that makes it possible.)

    1. Stockbridge
      Stockbridge! On Ice Glen Road, to be exact. Enjoy exploring the Berkshires. Lots to see there?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùand a great school (Simon’s Rock College, where I spent my first two years), but watch out for all the fake roads…

      I think the Berkshires would have been a lot easier to deal with as a high school kid if I had access to the Internet, not that we didn’t try! We did our share of hacking, gaining some access to Tymnet, if I recall correctly. Pretty picture of the Tymnet nodes on that page. Servers are always so much nicer. Everything in the world should be rack-mounted.

      Great site, by the way.

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