Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Town That Wasn't

     If you think about it, maps could be pulling a vast hoax on us.  How many of those places we pass by do we ever actually visit?  How many little towns, villages and hamlets whip by us on our way to somewhere else that we never see?  There's story potential here: a map filled with the names of imaginary places meant to convince some poor traveler that the world isn't actually empty.  But it appears that reality beat fiction to it in this case.  This recent article from The New York Times explains how the town of Agloe, New York has appeared for decades on road maps and even inhabited a spot in the digital world of Google Maps, all without ever really existing.  Theoretically included on maps as a protection against copyright infringement (if the name appeared on other maps, the owners would know information had been lifted from the Agloe-inclusive map, since these other map makers would never have come across an Agloe to include it), it certainly manages to pique the imagination.
    An amusing footnote: the print version of this article appeared in the March 29, 2014 edition of The New York Times.  It ends at the bottom of page A16 with the words "Last week, a reporter for the New York" and then explains "Continued on Following Page."  But on page A17, there is no sign of the continued article.  The story has, like the town itself, disappeared.


  1. I remember reading about Agloe in the author's note for Paper Towns!

  2. Never heard of Paper Towns, but it suddenly sounds like it's worth a look.