When I came to this city I knew I would be taking so many photographs that I wouldn’t like to have just one big file named “Glasgow”. I pondered how to divide the snaps into smaller groups. Surely not chronologically – that would be like no division at all. Files named eg Churches – Museums – Parks – Rivers and so on would no doubt mean that some pictures would rightly belong to more than one such category. Then I had a smart idea: to subdivide the Glasgow file by Glasgow districts.
As it turned out, it wasn’t such a smart idea. Apparently, while there is often some prominent boundary between two districts, for instance the Clyde or the M8, just as often the boundary is unclear. The Ordnance Survey online viewer is a great resource but leaves many questions open. Where does Woodside end and North Kelvin begin? Or is the former a part of the latter, given than only the latter appears in the smaller scale map? Or take Firhill – in smaller scale it seems as though it straddles Garscube Road, in larger scale it looks as if Garscube Road separates it from North Kelvin.
Likewise, GoogleEarth and Wikipedia were sometimes more helpful, sometimes less so; constituency maps are unequivocal, but only for a particular electoral term. I must have spent hours trying to find on the Web some map of Glasgow which would clearly demarcate its traditional districts’ boundaries – in vain. I must have spent more hours trying to decide whether to file this or that particular photo under, say, Kelvinside or Kelvindale.
And then it occurred to me that in many cases such a clear boundary maybe simply doesn’t exist. That Glasgow hadn’t always expanded by somebody drawing a plan of a new, clearly defined housing scheme, that it often gradually reached and swallowed an existing village or town. Which became a district, kept its name, but often lacked clear boundaries with some of its neighbours.
I also reflected upon the two cities I had lived in in Moravia and Bohemia – and I realized that while I often “instinctively” knew where one district finished and another began, I just as often didn’t (and lived quite happily without that knowledge too) – and that I have even often witnessed a quarrel between people born in the particular place about whether such-and-such street actually belonged to this district or that one. An inconclusive quarrel, because, after all, the boundary was set by tradition, rather than by a byelaw. And different families have sometimes different nomenclatures, even if they live next to each other.
So in May I finally gave it up, made files for the City Centre (between the Clyde, High Street and M8), Ruchill Park and Firhill (with no fixed boundaries), and divided the rest by the Clyde, the Great Western Road and the Springburn Road into North-West, South-West, South and East.
ETA 26/3/13: Later on I improved this by redividing it, according to the ‘pedia, into South Side (everything south of the Clyde), City Centre (further bordered by the M8 and the High/Castle Street), West End, North Glasgow and East End (my borders being, roughly, Maryhill Road and Springburn Road).