Defunct Names on Online Maps

A Chicago Tribune article notes the appearance on Google Maps of obsolete Chicago neighbourhood, street and building names — names that haven’t been used for decades — and landmarks that have long since disappeared. Map designer Dennis McClendon, who was interviewed for this article and sent me this link, shared an explanation with me by e-mail:

Apparently Google and other online map services use the GNIS database without trying to determine if locality names are still commonly in use. Even zoomed out to fairly small scale, Google Maps shows “McCormickville” and “Grant Village” as Chicago neighborhoods. The first hasn’t been used since 1871, and the second is a seniors apartment building. There have been similar problems for years on MapQuest, and Flickr’s automatic tagging often applies curious 19th-century subdivision names to photos of Chicago.
Since the story, I’ve talked with Roger Payne and others at the BGN/GNIS and apparently they used contractors to go through various reference works to add all the local names they could find to GNIS. If a name was ever used for a place that still exists, GNIS will show it, with a lat-long coordinate.