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Blog Takes Issue With Use Of ‘RAMBO’ Neighborhood Name On Google Maps

Brooklyn Map With RAMBO

This Google Map of Brooklyn shows the neighborhood of RAMBO. (Credit: Google Maps)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Gothamist blog has been crying foul lately, after a trendy new Brooklyn neighborhood name found its way onto Google Maps.

Gothamist’s Garth Johnson wrote on Friday that Google Maps had listed an area of downtown Brooklyn bounded by the Flatbush Avenue Extension on the west, Tillary Street on the south and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the north and east as RAMBO, an acronym that might mean “Right Around the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” or “Right After the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” depending on the source.

“Every day, real estate hucksters-gone-mad are doing their best to bring their vision of a nightmare NYC packed with imaginary neighborhoods to fruition,” Johnson wrote.

The RAMBO name had been rejected for inclusion on Google Maps previously. A September New York Times feature article pointed out that Matthew Hyland, a downtown Brooklyn resident is responsible for approving or rejecting changes to the Google map of New York City, had recently rejected an attempt by another user to re-label the neighborhood as RAMBO.

But this time, Gothamist said, Hyland approved the change. He told the publication that another map reviewer had made a “convincing argument” to keep the name, whereas he had previously dismissed the RAMBO name as “some kind of a joke Curbed played for a stupid neighborhood contest.”

In a subsequent article by Ben Yakas Sunday, Gothamist pointed out that the RAMBO name is not actually new. In fact, there is dispute as to who actually deserves credit for it, Gothamist said.

In 2005, Adam Wills won a Curbed contest to come up with a new neighborhood name and chose RAMBO. But he told Gothamist that the neighborhood name has existed for “at least 12 years,” and Gothamist said references to the name go back as far as 2001.

A Wikipedia entry characterizes RAMBO as “a rarely used name for a section of the downtown area for the New York City borough of Brooklyn.” The area is known historically and in city planning documents as Bridge Plaza, Wikipedia said.

But why are residents taking issue with a neighborhood name that matches that of a legendary action hero, when everyone accepts the appellation for a nearby neighborhood where the acronym spells the name of a Disney cartoon elephant?

It turns out the name DUMBO, for Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, actually goes back to 1978. The New York Times reported that urban pioneers coined the name in hopes that it was so “silly” and “ugly” that it would keep developers away, although the opposite ended up happening.

The oldest New York City acronym neighborhood name is SoHo, which dates back to a 1963 urban planning report by Chester Rapkin. The urban planner shortened the name “South Houston Industrial Area” to SoHo in the report, which discouraged the city from demolishing buildings in the area despite the flight of industry, New York Magazine recalls.

The fact that London also has a Soho – with no capital H – is just a coincidence. That London district name dates back to the 16th century, and is believed to have originated as a cry in rabbit hunting.

And as for the future of RAMBO on Google Maps, Gothamist reported in the Sunday article that Hyland had told the publication he was contemplating erasing the name. But as of Sunday night, RAMBO remained on the map.

Do you use the name RAMBO for the Brooklyn neighborhood in question? Leave your comments below…