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Argleton - City that exists only on Google Maps

Argleton is a "phantom" settlement that appears on Google Maps and Google Earth but does not actually exist. The supposed location of Argleton is just off the A59 road within the civil parish of Aughton in West Lancashire, England, but in reality is nothing more than empty fields. Data from Google is used by other online information services which are consequently treating Argleton as a real settlement within the L39 postcode area. As a result, Argleton also appears in numerous listings for things such as real estate, employment and weather, but although the people, businesses and services listed are all in fact real, they are actually based elsewhere in the same postcode area. As of January 30, 2010, Argleton was no longer in Google Maps but can still be seen on Google Street View and Google Maps by searching for "Argleton".

Argleton - Google Maps
Satellite view on Google Maps showing the non-existent settlement of Argleton in the middle of empty fields.

The anomaly was first noticed by Mike Nolan, head of web services at nearby Edge Hill University, who posted about it on his blog in September 2008. In early 2009 it was investigated further by Nolan's colleague, Roy Bayfield, who walked to the area shown on Google Maps to see if there was anything special about it. Bayfield commented about it on his own blog and described the place as being "deceptively normal" as well as extrapolating the concept of a non-existent place using the tropes of magic realism and psychogeography; the story was later picked up by the local media. By November 2009, news of the non-existent town had received global media attention, and "Argleton" became a popular hashtag on Twitter. As of 23 December 2009, a Google search for "Argleton" was generating around 249,000 hits, and the domain names (with the message, "What the hell are they talking about? We, the good citizens of Argleton do exist. Here we are now!") and (a spoof website describing the history of Argleton, famous 'Argletonians' and current events in the fictional village) were claimed.

Other websites were selling merchandise with slogans such as "I visited Argleton and all I got was this T-shirt" and "New York, London, Paris, Argleton". On 18 September 2010, the BBC Radio 4 programme Punt PI hosted by Steve Punt investigated the case of Argleton

View from Bold Lane in Aughton, looking north towards the supposed location of Argleton.
View from Bold Lane in Aughton, looking north towards the supposed location of Argleton.

One possible explanation for the presence of Argleton is that it was added deliberately as a copyright trap to catch any violations of copyright, though such bogus entries are typically much less obvious. It has been noted that "Argle" seems to echo the word "Google", while the name is also an anagram of "Not Large" and "Not Real G", with the letter G perhaps representing Google. Alternatively, it has been suggested that "Argleton" is merely a misspelling of "Aughton", despite the fact that both names appear on the map. Professor Danny Dorling, president of the Society of Cartographers, considered it more likely that Argleton was nothing more than an "innocent mistake".

A spokesman for Google stated that, "While the vast majority of this information is correct there are occasional errors", and encouraged users to report any issues directly to their data provider. Data for Google Maps is provided by Netherlands-based Tele Atlas, who were unable to explain how such anomalies could get into their database, but said that Argleton would be removed from the map.

Thanks to Wikipedia for info.

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