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Offensive SF map shows what people really think of city neighborhoods

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Hoodmaps showcases sometimes witty, sometimes unfortunate opinions

An aerial photo of San Francisco. Photo by Andrei G Kustov

Hoodmaps is an online tool that lets locals plant a label on any block or neighborhood in their city, giving outsiders a crowdsourced perspective on what we all think of our towns.

Once a user submits a descriptor for a neighborhood other users can vote it up or down, and the most popular terminology wins the day.

Curbed New York noted last month that for that city users favored terms like “Infinite Tourists” in Times Square or “I wish I could afford Manhattan” for Roosevelt Island. The truth smarts.

What have people been saying about San Francisco?

Some of the current Hoodmaps quips about SF neighborhoods will cock an eyebrow or two. For example, users have labeled the Outer Richmond and upper part of the Sunset “Chinatown #2” and “Chinatown #3”—an interesting take, but also a bit reductive.

SoMa presently bears the inscription “startups burning VC money.” Noe Valley is now “Stroller Valley.” The Bay Bridge says simply “traffic.” And Billionaire’s Row bears a “Peter Thiel” marker.

Areas like the Mission are crowded with opinions, while some neighborhoods have scarcely anything written over them at all—a potentially valuable insight into what blocks are on people’s minds these days.

Unfortunately, Hoodmaps also showcases some of the city’s unflattering prejudices.

The only label anyone to appear over the richly-textured Bayview neighborhood is “gangs.” And a descriptor over Hunters Point read “where I would make someone disappear” before it (ironically) vanished this morning.

And the most popular marker on the Castro is just “Naked Gay People.” Frustrating.

To a degree, Hoodmaps encourages this kind of thinking by asking people to paint parts of the city in various colors indicating broad stereotypes like “hipsters,” “suits,” “normies,” et cetera.

But creator map Pieter Levels wants incisive opinions, not a lot of nuance.

“I want to get a quick overview of what a city is about,” he writes about Hoodmaps’ creation. “What are the cool ‘hip’ areas? Where’s the wealthier areas? What areas are more suburbian [sic]?”

Of course, the map is a tool for the masses. If the rest of us don’t like what it says about our neighborhood, we can change it.

Here’s the current map in its entirety: