Geography

Hey Google Maps, it's Sanford *

sandford-map.jpgWell, I couldn't let it rest — and neither could a few readers. Why do Google Maps label a section of the Wilshire district as Sandford? Turns out that, on Google's part (or on the part of whoever they get their maps from) it's first of all a misspelling. The word they were looking for is Sanford. The post office at 6th Street and Harvard is called Sanford Station, though I haven't been able to ascertain why. There is no Sanford street in the area. Turning to the Proquest historical database of the Los Angeles Times, I found that "Sanford Station" first appeared in ads and a small political story — as part of mailbox addresses — in 1957. The postal station was then at 532 S. Vermont, an area officially known as "Los Angeles 5." The following year, a contract was let to build the current station. A congressman and the executive assistant to the U.S. Postmaster General attended the dedication.

When ZIP Codes came along in 1963, Sanford Station's Zone 5 became Los Angeles, CA 90005. Real estate websites that spit out data on every ZIP Code in the U.S. claim to provide demographics for "Sanford, CA," but then they also refer to Sentous, CA in Culver City and the place where Main Street and Alameda split off in Chinatown as Naud Junction, CA. Good enough for Google Maps, which has all the local savvy of a silicon chip. But does anyone in the neighborhood a little east of Windsor Square and arguably in Park Mile refer to their home turf as Sanford? I guess we'll find out.

* Bukowski angle: Esotouric Tours on Twitter passes this along: "Fun fact about Sanford Station is that Charles Bukowski worked there, based much of 'Post Office' on his time there."

Previously on LA Observed:
Koreatown & Little Bangladesh: peace in our time
Love this 1918 Los Angeles map


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