87 Suburbs In Search of a City

OK, so that’s just what Dorothy Parker said about Los Angeles, and it was 72, not 87. But it does handily introduce the fact that the Los Angeles Times has put its Mapping L.A. project online. It’s an attempt to flesh out and clarify the boundaries of the city’s many neighborhoods, and it seems like a nifty—though nascent—effort. Here’s the accompanying LAT’s story, by Bob Pool, on its hoped-for function:

Eventually, the map may become an electronic entryway to detailed neighborhood information — crime statistics, census information, economic data and links to Times stories, said Times Database Editor Doug Smith, the map project’s coordinator.

Smith, a veteran Times reporter, said the map was compiled with information drawn from such references as a mid-1990s mayor’s office map, a 2001 Times map that plotted potholes in the city, the Thomas Guide, U.S. census tracts and Times staffers’ personal experience and knowledge.

“To be honest, it’s more seat-of-the-pants than scientific,” Smith said. “We didn’t go to original Spanish land grant maps. The authority is the collective wisdom of the L.A. Times.”

So far, though it’s the reader comments that are most engrossing, evincing a smattering of regional pride, punctiliousness, and real estate snobbery. Go neighbors!

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Jane Kim is a writer in New York.