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Detroit neighborhoods incorrectly named on Google Maps

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Can a spelling error lead to a changed name?

The Fiskhorn neighborhood
Google Maps

How do you refer to your Detroit neighborhood? Do you see the same neighborhood name on real estate sites or Google Maps? Has a developer rebranded your neighborhood (Cass Corridor—>Midtown)? Detroit technically has over 200 neighborhoods, and as time passes and technology changes, some of those names seem to change.

The New York Times identified discrepancies in some Google Maps, including one odd spelling error in Detroit. The small westside neighborhood of Fiskhorn, which borders Dearborn, shows up on Google Maps as Fishkorn due to an unfortunate spelling error. According to the Times,

Timothy Boscarino, a Detroit city planner, traced Google’s use of those names to a map posted online around 2002 by a few locals. Google almost identically copied that map’s neighborhoods and boundaries, he said—down to its typos. One result was that Google transposed the k and h for the district known as Fiskhorn, making it Fishkorn.

A former Detroit city planner, Arthur Mullen, said he created the 2002 map as a side project and was surprised his typos were now distributed widely. He said he used old books and his local knowledge to make the map, approximating boundaries at times and inserting names with tenuous connections to neighborhoods, hoping to draw feedback.

The Times article also notes The Eye, a neighborhood in the most northwest corner of Detroit, which Mullen identified in 2002 but can’t remember where he first saw it or found the name.

While history rarely gets everything correct, the name of a neighborhood can stir up strong emotions for those who’ve called it home. And while we attempt to name neighborhoods, buildings, and street correctly, we admittedly get it wrong sometimes. (Corktown Shores? West Corktown?)

The neighborhood map

In 2013, we posted a map that attempted to identify Detroit’s neighborhoods. It was a start (Cornerstone Village was not labeled correctly). These days, we head over to The Neighborhoods, where the city researched extensively and knocked on doors throughout the city to try to get it right. They ended up with over 200 neighborhood across Detroit, divided by district. Additionally, each neighborhood has information on basic city services and representation. It’s a good reference to bookmark.

Historic neighborhoods generally have clear boundaries, while some neighborhood names encompass giant areas (see: Southwest Detroit). Browsing through both Google Maps and the Neighborhood map can bring up a lot of questions over neighborhood boundaries and names—feel free to share questions or observations below or hit us up on the tip line.