[Tagging] Use of place=suburb (was Re: RFC: place=neighbourhood)

Stephen Hope slhope at gmail.com
Thu Sep 1 03:09:11 BST 2011

In Australia (and New Zealand) a suburb is a named, legally defined
area that is part of your address. It is usually (always?) smaller
than a local government area (My local government, Moreton Bay Shire,
has 25-30 suburbs, could be more). The borders are routinely shown on
street maps, or the names shown at the very least.  Out in smaller
towns and villages, the whole place would be one suburb, and we
generally wouldn't use the term, it's usually only used when a place
is big enough to have two or more. In large urban areas, a suburb is
usually only a few km/miles across, sometimes less.

If I talked about "the suburbs" it would be taken to mean "the area
outside the city centre", but even the city centre is one or more
suburbs. The suburb at the centre of the city of Brisbane is called
Brisbane City, for example.  It gets confusing, so we generally talk
about the CBD (Central Business District) or city centre instead in
everyday talk, but it is still a suburb.

It makes for hard searching.  If I say a place is in Brisbane, I could
mean the suburb of the city centre, or the Local Government area "City
of Brisbane" (about 1 million people) or the larger contiguous urban
area that Brisbane has grown out to and swallowed up (2 million or


On 1 September 2011 08:23, Greg Troxel <gdt at ir.bbn.com> wrote:
> In US usage, suburb is a word used to refer to a town or perhaps even
> city which is considered associated with a larger city.  There's a
> notion that most of the people that live in the suburb do so in order to
> be close to the larger city - and that's really what makes a town a
> suburb.  This is not crisp, and there's no official standing -- there is
> no right or agreed on truth status for "town x is a suburb of city y"
> for at least many x and y.
> So based on that, there shouldn't be any place=suburb on the map.
> If suburb has a different meaning elsewhere, and we use that meaning in
> osm, it will be import to define it clearly and warn US people that
> their normal interpretation of the word is completely at odds with the
> osm definition.
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