Map-makers insert fake towns or trap-streets to catch out plagiarists, but Agloe, in New York state, took on a strange life of its own
In 2008, Argleton village in west Lancashire appeared on Google, complete with weather reports, a job site and an estate agent advertising houses for sale. Argleton vanished two years later. While its site was – and still is – a damp field in the middle of nowhere, it’s worth noting that Argleton is an anagram of G Not Real. Although Google never admitted to having created it, Argleton was a phantom settlement, planted as a trap.
In the world of digital mapping and cartography, snares to catch unwary plagiarists take the form of fake roads or places, known as “trap streets” or “paper towns”. For some, such as Lye Close or Noereal Road, the clue is in the name. (A real alleyway in Cardiff that served as a trap street in the 2014 Dr Who episode Face the Raven may, conversely, be the world’s only fictional fictional street.)