No pastime is more fun for Los Angeles residents than discussing what your neighborhood says about you or if you even know the correct name for your neighborhood at all. A new site named Hoodmaps offers a new way to debate and define LA’s neighborhoods—often by resorting to the most stereotypical descriptions of what lies therein.
Hoodmap’s descriptions of the city are overlaid on a zoomable, navigable Mapbox map. Anyone can tweak the labels, adding helpful suggestions for the proper descriptions of enclaves, or coloring swaths of the city to denote a prevalence of a certain population, like hipsters, tourists, students, or “normies.” Subsequent visitors can vote locations up or down, building what’s essentially a crowdsourced guide to the city.
Some of the best locations appear to be pulled straight from the pages of Curbed. The Hollywood Sign reads “No you can’t hike up to the sign” while Silver Lake is denoted as “Park that’s not a park.” Burbank is labeled “Biggest IKEA ever.” There are some genuinely hilarious moments of geographic commentary—I know a few people who live in “Oh I work for Snap”-adjacent—while other labels are downright lazy. I mean, is “Always up to no good” really the best we can do for Inglewood?
The “honest map” is not necessarily a new idea. A few years ago, a site named Judgmental Maps caused a social media stir for publishing 75 barely legible maps of cities with neighborhoods clearly labeled with stereotypes ranging from innocently offensive to blatantly racist. The maps were shared widely with equal parts amusement and resentment, and eventually published into an actual book. But as we know, cities change, and even the most judgmental maps were quickly out of date.
In comparison, Hoodmaps is the neighborhood stereotyping tool for the digital age. But Hoodmaps is also a lot more useful.
Although the final product can be slightly abrasive, the app was supposedly created with good intentions. Developer Pieter Levels claims he built Hoodmaps after he lived in Amsterdam and wanted to show visitors how to avoid touristy areas and stick to more authentic enclaves. If anything, LA’s map could serve the same lofty goals, highlighting secret gems and telling people to steer clear of The Grove.
There are about 2,000 cities featured so far so after you peruse LA’s locations you should be well-covered as you travel throughout the planet. Check out the Curbed take on the San Francisco and New York maps to see how they compare.