Agloe, New York

Agloe
Image of a series of roads an intersections in New York State, with state routes "17" and "206," and villages or hamlets "Roscoe," "Rockland," and "Agloe."

Fictional Agloe, New York, a copyright trap, shown on a real map of New York published by Exxon in 1998.
A General Drafting map location
Country United States
Creator Otto G. Lindberg and Ernest Alpers
Genre Map
Type Hamlet, copyright trap
Notable locations Agloe General Store (formerly)
First appearance c. 1930
State New York
County Delaware County, New York
Town Colchester, New York
ZIP code 12776[1]

Agloe is a fictional hamlet in Colchester, Delaware County, New York, that became an actual landmark after mapmakers made up the community as a “copyright trap”.

History

In the 1930s, General Drafting founder Otto G. Lindberg and an assistant, Ernest Alpers, assigned an anagram of their initials to a dirt-road intersection in the Catskill Mountains: NY 206 and Morton Hill Road, north of Roscoe, New York.[2] The town was designed as a “copyright trap” to be able to catch others who might copy their map.

In the 1950s, a general store was built at the intersection on the map, and was given the name Agloe General Store because the name was on the Esso maps.[3] Later, Agloe appeared on a Rand McNally map after the mapmaker got the name of the “hamlet” from the Delaware County administration. When Esso threatened to sue Rand McNally for the assumed copyright infringement which the “trap” had revealed, the latter pointed out that the place had now become real and therefore no infringement could be established.

Eventually the store went out of business; Agloe continued to appear on maps as recently as the 1990s, but has now been deleted. It still appears in Google Maps.[4]The United States Geological Survey added “Agloe (Not Official)” to the Geographic Names Information System database on February 25, 2014.[5]

Agloe is featured in the novel Paper Towns by John Green and its film adaptation. During the film and in the novel, one of the main characters, Margo Roth Spiegelman, runs away from home, leaving clues to her friend Quentin Jacobsen to come and find her. He then discovers she is hiding in one of the US’ most famous “Paper Towns” (“paper town” being an alternate name for communities that exist only on paper, of which cartographic copyright traps are a subset). The book’s name is based on the several paper towns that Margo discovers while running away.

References

  1. “US Postal Code Boundaries”. Google. Google, Inc. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  2. Lackie, John (25 November 2006). “Copyright traps”. New Scientist (The Word ed.). 192 (2574): 62. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(06)60797-5. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  3. Byrne, Ian (19 March 2006). “Errors on road maps(2)”. Petrol Maps. ianbyrne.free-online.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  4. Krulwich, Robert (18 March 2014). “An Imaginary Town Becomes Real, Then Not. True Story”. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  5. “Agloe (Not Official)”. Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2015.

 

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