About this time last week, New York City was preparing to dedicate part of a Morningside Heights street in honor of comedian George Carlin. The dedication came and went. Tributes poured in. We wrote about it. So did everybody else. By Wednesday afternoon, a block of West 121st Street — between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive — was officially renamed George Carlin Way. New York, essentially, had a new street. You just couldn’t find it anywhere besides Google Maps.
Within hours of George Carlin Way becoming the official name of the 400 block of West 121st Street, a Google Maps search for the new name yielded the very result you see at the top of this page. The same search using an iPhone’s factory map app produced no results. Bing’s map service had finally recognized the new name by Friday, but would only direct the searcher to simply 121st Street and Amsterdam — the name change was not indicated on the map itself. And Mapquest…poor Mapquest is still wondering if the searcher is actually looking for a restaurant called “George’s” in Greenwich Village.
The Voice contacted Google to congratulate them on winning the race to be the first to map George Carlin Way. A spokesperson explained that the secret to its quick reaction time was, more than likely, the fact that several George Carlin fans probably made damn sure the street was recognized immediately by the internet giant.
Google’s Map Maker tool “gives locals the ability to contribute their local knowledge to the map and [keeps Google Maps] up to date,” said the spokesperson, who acknowledged Carlin as a “personal favorite” comedian.
So Carlin’s legions of fans did their part in getting their man recognized by the mother of all Web mapping services. As for the others? We’ve reached out to Apple, Microsoft, and Mapquest to ask how long before a renamed street is recognized on their maps. We have yet to hear from them on how their sausage is made.
For the time being, if you insist on using anything but Google Maps, you’d be wise just to search for 121st Street and Amsterdam. But what fun is that?