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When map fiction becomes on-the-ground fact

Jason Norwood-Young
Jason Norwood-Young

When cartographers aren’t sneaking hidden pics into maps, they’re making up fake place names in order to trap other cartographers who may plagiarise their work — known as “paper towns”. But in the case of one US paper town, Agloe, the little bit of cartographic crypto turned into a real place when a general store opened up in the location.

“Its store manager, having spotted Agloe on a map, had taken it as a good place to set up shop. A lack of houses or indeed a town of any kind should have suggested otherwise; the unfortunate shopkeeper went out of business shortly after.”

The imaginary American town that became a tourist attraction, The Guardian

This weird little place has made its mark on popular culture too, in the form of a John Green book and Cara Delevingne movie Paper Towns.

Jason Norwood-Young
  • Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery.

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