Google Maps City Center

This should probably be one of my silliest posts, but since serendipity doesn’t come that often, i might as well share it. So here it goes:

If you’re looking for a city, where does Google Maps take you by default?

Running a couple of queries brought some interesting results:
(zoom in to street level, for better view)

Lisbon, Portugal

This was actually what took me down the rabbit hole, as it’s a long stretch to consider Praça do Comercio as Lisbon’s city center.

New York

Times Square is a a pretty good choice, Downtown Manhatan would do fine also.

Paris, France

Right next to the city hall. I was expecting Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe.

San Francisco

Van Ness Ave w/ Market St‎. What were you expecting now? Alcatraz?

London, UK

Another strange choice, next to the Parliament Square.

Rome, Italy

The placemark sits right in front of Il Vittoriano, on Piazza Veneza. No Colloseum for you.

Madrid, Spain

Puerta del Sol is a pretty busy city square, but celebrations usually take place at Plaza Cibeles.

Mountain View, California

And of course, Mountain View, placed next to Google’s corporate headquarters.

This seemingly useless trivia is actually important, as businesses get ranked in Local Search according to their proximity to the city center. If you’re an hotel, entertainment or tourism related service, you’d better start caring how Google Maps sets their city placemarks.

So, is your city center the same as the one suggested by Google Maps?

6 thoughts on “Google Maps City Center

  1. Just a little thought on the Madrid map, Puerta del Sol is really considered the city center, and it even has a statue to mark the stop.

    On the other cases, the center seems to be either a generally accepted “city center” or just the most familiar/famous place to foreigners (like in the Lisbon case).

  2. You’re right about Madrid. The statue is a bear, as far as i recall.
    But as many things Google, no one knows how these rankings are determined. And even to foreigners visiting Lisbon, I would choose Rossio as a more appropriate place.

  3. And what about vs location?
    Perhaps Marques do Pombal is more Lisbon Center?
    Or perhaps they love roundabouts, because in Rome is on the Piazza della Repubblica, which in fact is very central, but I don’t know if it would be the center of Rome.

  4. I must be honest this was a seemingly uber-ridiculous post…but your explanation is spot on. Thanks for bringing this up I never though about the idea that your local listing’s proximity to the city center could be so skewed…so is this is a good time to bend the truth and ‘move’ your HQ just a bit closer to the city center?

  5. In Shanghai, google points a place near Xintiandi (a fancy chic neighbourhood), but i don’t know if there is some sort of government building there to justify that.
    Quite far from what i would consider the city center, People’s Square.

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