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Google Maps Almost Have Chicago Down, But Not Quite

Google Results For Merchandise Mart

The Google search results for the Merchandise Mart will show you a map plotting the location of… the Drake Hotel. (Credit: Google)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — If you search Google for “Merchandise Mart,” your results will come back accompanied by a convenient map plotting its location for you.

But there’s one little problem. The marker on the map is nowhere near the Merchandise Mart. It’s actually Michigan Avenue and Walton Street, more than a mile away.

If you click on the map, it will claim the marker is at 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, the correct street address for the Mart. But if you click on the accompanying “street view” preview image, and you will find yourself in front of the Drake Hotel, while the real Merchandise Mart is more than a mile away.

This is one of several errors on Google Maps for Chicago that have been documented in recent months by the Chicago Architecture Blog, although the most surprising among them seems to have been fixed.

The blog said for months, the Google map indicated that large parts of Randolph and Madison streets in the West Loop had not been constructed yet.

While the outlines of all the buildings on the streets were present, and arrows were in place to indicate the flow of traffic, the yellow line indicating the presence of an actual street was missing. Instead, the empty spaces where the streets should have been were marked as “W Randolph St (Planned)” and “W Madison St (Planned).”

As the Chicago Architecture Blog points out, Randolph and Madison are clearly marked through the area in maps dating from the 19th century, yet “according to today’s Google Maps, it doesn’t exist yet.”

The error still appeared Thursday morning, but by the afternoon, the streets appeared to have been restored to completion on the map.

The Chicago Architecture Blog also pointed out that the Pacific Garden Mission, a homeless shelter at 1458 S. Canal St., is marked with an icon of a dog’s head, intended for a kennel.

While overall, Google Maps has an impressive degree of detail and accuracy, there are a few other peculiarities. For example, the Foster Avenue Beach appears to be accompanied with what appears to be the symbol for a dentist’s office.

Also, almost all the streets are marked with abbreviations as would appear on a street sign, e.g., “N Sheridan Rd,” “S Stony Island Ave,” “Dan Ryan Expy.” But one exception is “North Broadway Street,” where all three words are written out every time the street is marked along its entire route from Devon Avenue to Diversey Parkway.

But there’s one problem, of course. Much like its New York namesake, Chicago’s Broadway is not a “street” or an “avenue.” It’s just plain Broadway.

CBS Chicago Web Producer Adam Harrington contributed to this report.