Sometimes Sunrise Doesn’t Exist: Controversial Decisions to Remove Towns from Maps

Caitlin Dempsey


For about a month, the Florida city of Sunrise was mysteriously missing from Google Maps.  The resulting omission made it virtually impossible to find locations in Sunrise via Google search, affecting local businesses.  

The Florida Sun Sentinel quoted Sherry Tannozzini, the owner of Sunrise-based floral shop Flowers from the Rainflorist:

“My new customer Web orders is almost at zero,” she said. “The revenues are down [because] the people can’t find us. They can’t find the city mayor, they can’t find the police department, they can’t find a dentist, a plumber [or] a tire changer.”

This isn’t the first time that Sunrise has disappeared from Google Maps, having gone missing back in August and October of 2009.  Those searching for Sunrise related business were offered search results for Sarasota, located 200 miles away.

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A screenshot from Google maps showing the Florida town of Sunrise.
A screenshot from Google maps showing the Florida town of Sunrise.

Missing cities from online mapping sites

Cities in other areas around the United States have also been affected.  Mike Blumenthal notes missing cities on his blog.

When Rogers, Minn., went missing, Blumenthal set a clock on his blog, timing how quickly Google could bring it back up. Then other cities went missing, including Woodstock, Va.; Imperial Beach, Calif.; and Wickliffe, Ohio. Unfortunately, there is no specific person responsible for handling the problem, so people calling in to complain get the runaround

Why do cities go missing?  SearchEngineLand hypothesizes that the changes the data providers that Google uses may be the culprit:

It was just about a year ago that Google dropped TeleAtlas map data and started using those other sources for Google Maps. And yes, each of the cases of missing cities that are mentioned earlier in this article happened after Google changed its map data source.’

Mob Rule – 400 Tiny Towns to go back on Georgia Map

The original decision by the Georgia Department of Transportation to simplify their maps in 2007 by removing 400 small towns was reversed due to the overflow of protests that had resulted after the publication of the new map. 

Starting the summer of 2007 with the large-print maps,  the Georgia DOT will be adding back the deleted town locations to their maps.  The tipping point appeared to be a published letter of protest from Georgia’s governor, Sonny Perdue who hails from a small town himself.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.