This week, we learned that Google Maps had given in to the whims of Big Real Estate and approved yet another made-up neighborhood: RAMBO, or "Right Around The Manhattan Bridge Overpass." It happens to be a very, very tiny made-up neighborhood, so we figured it wasn't really that big a deal—except it seems that everyone wants a piece of credit for this bogus sub-neighborhood.
First off, we know that RAMBO is not a new acronym—the only new thing about it is that is is the newest made-up neighborhood adopted by Google Maps. Made-up neighborhoods whistleblower Matthew Hyland initially thought the term stemmed from a Curbed neighborhood naming contest in 2005—Adam Wills was the winner of that contest, and he contends that some of the glory should go to him. He wrote us: "The name has existed for at least 12 years and if you want to portray an accurate portrait of the name that has truly stuck, you should amend and republish your article."
But it's important to note there's a difference between Wills' RAMBO and the one Google is using: according to Wills, it stands for "Right After The Manhattan Bridge Overpass," while Google is using "Right Around." For what it's worth, the NY Times supported his name in an article from 2008: "This studio apartment in an 18-story building is in a neighborhood that locals like to call Rambo: Right After the Manhattan Bridge Overpass."
But looking farther back, RAMBO showed up in print in the early 00s as well. Clyde Haberman mentioned it in 2002 in the Times: "And if people have no problem living in a place called Dumbo, for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is it too great a leap for an adjoining neighborhood to dub itself Rambo -- Right Around the Manhattan Bridge Overpass?" Caerial Crestin may deserve credit for that one. He wrote us:
I actually coined the term RAMBO back in 2001 when I lived in that neighborhood. I even wrote about it at the time in my astrology column, Sign Language, published in New York Press from 1998-2010. I will try to dig up the exact column I mentioned it in. Although in my mind it stood for Right After Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
I think it's awesome and hilarious that the name caught on.
For the record, there is email proof that Gothamist's Jake Dobkin used the term in 2009, although he claims he "has been on RAMBO since like 1992." If there's anyone else who can produce an early claim to the moniker, you should email us sooner rather than later, because according to Hyland, the future of RAMBO on Google Maps does not look so sunny: "I am contemplating erasing it right now as I type," he wrote us yesterday.