What Happens When A Big Business Tries To Rename A Neighborhood

That happened to some Californians in 2017, when Google Maps changed the moniker of three San Francisco neighborhoods. Given the extensive reach that Google has in the transmission of geographic data, through Google Maps and its geospatial analysis software Google Earth Engine, the name quickly spread and was adopted by other businesses. But residents decried the change.

There are many reasons why someone might want to change their neighborhoods name, but what’s driving current name-changing initiatives carried out by big businesses with little or no personal connection to the places they rename? Raechel A. Portelli, as a geographer at the Michigan State University, discusses three main driving forces.