[Tagging] Avoid using place=locality - find more specific tags instead

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Thu Apr 18 19:58:13 UTC 2019

On Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 1:09 PM Greg Troxel <gdt at lexort.com> wrote:
> Warin <61sundowner at gmail.com> writes:
> > If the name is still in present use then it belongs in OSM, even if
> > there is no physical presence on the ground people still use the name
> > to define the place.
> Agreed.  Around me, my impression is that most place=locality are place
> names that people use.
> Part of the core issue is the separation between our modern notion of
> place as defined by administrative boundaries vs. the older notion of a
> town/village center and things that are near it.  At least in the
> northeast US, I think there's a been a vast shift in the past 200 years.

Part of that is that as our population has grown, so have our
settlements, to where we have to give greater respect to the
boundaries between them.

Also, as communications have improved, we've needed more definition.
People need to know what post office serves them, and the name they
give to their home town is usually the name of the post office - or
they'll say something like, "It's the Schenectady post office, but I'm
actually outside the city line in Niskayuna."  The post office name is
more visible from day to day than which municipality is collecting the
property tax - but it was nearly a non-issue in a time when people had
few contacts outside their home villages and perhaps a few
neighbouring ones.

The administrative boundaries do, of course give rise to corner cases.
My brother lives in the Town of Tusten in New York.  His mail comes
through the Narrowsburg post office, but he's some miles from
Narrowsburg village.  He's actually quite close to the Tusten
settlement, but that's a ghost town. There's still a little church
there, which no longer conducts regular services, some old roads that
have been little improved since their construction in the eighteenth
century, a fine stone-arch bridge to nowhere spanning the Ten Mile
River (the road beyond was destroyed in the construction of the Erie
Railroad), and stone foundations where buildings once stood. There are
still apple trees and rose bushes in among the beeches and maples that
have grown since the place was inhabited. Despite its near-complete
abandonment, it still lends its name to the township, which now has
its town hall-cum-library-cum-police station-cum-firehouse in

In New England, the townships were established early, so you get the
anomalies of uninhabited townships (Wentworth Location, NH, or Second
College Grant, NH), villages named because they were founded near the
center of the townships (so that Hanover township has both a town
named Hanover and a village named Hanover Center - the situation is
not uncommon), and so on. The Naming of Names is complicated.

I'd say that localities without physical or administrative features
are rare, but they are not entirely unheard-of.  They usually have
complex history, but if that history isn't visible on the ground, it's
a more fitting subject for OHM. If the name is still in common use
despite the lack of a feature, observable today, to bind it, it's a
locality - hence Tusten the township is an administrative boundary,
but Tusten the settlement is a locality and an abandoned:place=hamlet.

This idea will surely offend those purists who believe that the only
things that can be mapped are those that can be observed directly by a
stranger deposited in their midst, without allowing the stranger to
consult locals or outside reference sources. If the name isn't on a
sign that the stranger can observe, it doesn't exist.

In rural America, we've never been much for putting up signs, and have
been known to take a perverse delight in misinforming and misdirecting
travelers. The locals often have names that aren't signed.

And what can I say?  I've been to Agloe, New York.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agloe,_New_York) Before John Green
wrote the book, even.

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