Maps vs. University

I'm a bit of a map nerd...

If somebody is talking about their hometown, I'll usually suggest we take a look on Google maps.  The satellite and street views can't compare to to an actual visit, but it's free and you can learn a lot!  I love the excitement people have showing me the places they grew up, their favourite restaurants, or whatever buildings/monuments make their hometown special.

I also love playing GeoGuessr, a game where where you're dropped somewhere random in the world and can only walk around using Google street view.  You have to guess where you are just by looking at the stuff around you.  Which side of the road are people driving on?  What climate is it?  What language is on the signs?  What units?  This game is truly addictive.

This fascination with maps has motivated to talk about two universities that I love:

1. The University of Western Ontario (now Western University)

The original name of my alma mater is the University of Western Ontario.  Let's look at the following map:

Map courtesy of Google Maps and modified (crudely) by me.

Map courtesy of Google Maps and modified (crudely) by me.

"Hmmmm," you might say, "that university isn't in the west of Ontario at all."

That's very astute, dear reader.  The name is confusing without the proper context.

The school adopted its name in 1923 and makes sense based on the population distribution.  I can't find data for 1923, but here's what it looked like in 2006.

Map courtesy of Statistics Canada.

Map courtesy of Statistics Canada.

If you ignore the less populated regions (and the University of Windsor!) the name starts to make sense.

However, the school's name was changed in 2012 to "Western University", which doesn't make any sense at all!  If they asked me I would have called it University of London 2.

2. University of California, Santa Barbara

This is the school where I'm completing my PhD and it's arguably the most beautiful campus in the world.  After getting accepted to UCSB, I remember reading all about Santa Barbara during one of London's frequent thunderstorms.

"I really can't wait to live in Santa Barbara," I thought to myself..

Map courtesy of the City of Goleta and modified (crudely) by me.

Map courtesy of the City of Goleta and modified (crudely) by me.

The school (Lab on the map) encircles the undergrads that live in Isla Vista.  I don't live in Santa Barbara, I actually live in Goleta.  I had no idea when I moved here that Santa Barbara proper is actually about 15-20 min away depending on traffic on the 101.

The school would be more accurately named UC Goleta or UC Isla Vista.  There's a movement to change the school's mascot to a mapache (raccoon) and I could get behind a school name change as well.

If you looked closely at the last map, you'll see that technically UCSB is touching Santa Barbara at the airport.  Take a look at this monstrosity:

Map courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Surveyor and modified (crudely) by me.

Map courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Surveyor and modified (crudely) by me.

This is called a Shoestring Annexation and it has a pretty interesting history.  A sneaky Mayor used a strip over the ocean to "steal" the airport to collect its taxes; the loophole was plugged immediately after.

In summary, the schools that I attend are wonderful but their names don't make sense.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to play a few rounds of GeoGuessr before bed.