Rep your neighborhood, if you can find it
Whether you’re a seasoned, snowed-upon Windy City vet or you landed from sunny California yesterday, you can count on Click that ‘Hood, a new web app, to help you mind-map and navigate Chicago's neighborhoods. While geo-geeks may know their Logans from their Lincolns and Lakeviews, this Code for America app takes them further, charting Chi-town’s hoods, then challenging players to place them. To all Chicagoland experts who think they can instinctively feel when they’ve crossed from River to Near North: Be afraid.
It’s no secret Chicagoans are proud of where they’re from, but in a city chock full of adjacent Parks and twin Villages, it’s easy to lose track of exactly where a home ‘hood starts and ends. Clearing things up, Click that ‘Hood establishes residential boundaries for sub-hoods with help from the city’s open data portal and office of tourism. Players are challenged to a timed search for specific 'hoods on an unlabelled map.
The game quickly gets tricky, even for those with good territorial intuition. On the easier setting, the site asks competitors to find 20 labeled neighborhoods. It’s not blind guessing, as names of areas appear when you scroll over districts, but matching certainly gets easier when you know where to look. Old hands who’d never mix Irving Park with its neighbors can summon Chicago’s 90 'hoods to classify. Race the clock and try not to get nervous when you can’t find Andersonville—it’s on there.
The jittery, quick-clicking fun comes courtesy of Code for America, Google (who provided map info) and Chicago’s open data. Thirty-three cities have been diagrammed so far, but with easy-to-follow instructions (well, easy for coders) on the site teaching others how to make their own maps, there’s potential for hundreds more. Kind of makes you wish you took a programming class in college, huh?
While the app—which helps players memorize Chicago's city landscape—came too late for me (I once asked someone where “the Backyards” was), there’s still time for Click that ‘Hood to save you from embarrassing geographical gaffes. Either that, or you can just enjoy it as a time-waster. Hey, it's better than Temple Run.