Take the long way: Rejiggering digital maps to keep the hordes away

Perched on the mountains above Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign is a cultural icon, recognized worldwide.

But try to hike up to near it, using Google Maps and a Garmin, and you’ll likely be sent far from the nearest trailhead.

Los Angeles City Council and the Hollywood Sign Trust, hearing from locals frustrated with tourists clogging their streets to get to the sign, have worked to obfuscate directions, says Alissa Walker in Gizmodo.

Here’s what she says:

Even though Google Maps clearly marks the actual location of the sign, something funny happens when you request driving directions from any place in the city. The directions lead you to Griffith Observatory, a beautiful 1920s building located one mountain east from the sign, then — in something I’ve never seen before, anywhere on Google Maps — a dashed gray line arcs from Griffith Observatory, over Mt. Lee, to the sign’s site. Walking directions show the same thing.

Google didn’t respond to her request for comment. Garmin acknowledged the change. Walker says:

So what’s happening in Hollywood is a disturbing peek into the future of digital cartography. A few dozen homeowners in one of the city’s wealthiest zip codes — who bought their homes knowing (I assume) about the letters hanging just outside their bedroom windows — have found a way to keep people out of their neighborhood by manipulating technology.

This is the next iteration of a gated community.

Meanwhile, some Westside Los Angeles residents have declared war on Waze, the app that redirects drivers around traffic jams. They are trying to fool the app into thinking that the side streets are also clogged, reports NBC Los Angeles.

Photo of the Hollywood sign from Associated Press archives


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