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How to Prove You’re a Transplant in Los Angeles ~ Overlay It With a Map of New York Boroughs

11:02 AM PDT on June 19, 2019

[dropcap size=big]O[/dropcap]n Sunday at 7:55 pm, the Twitter user @TomBellino posted of an image of a section of Los Angeles County with crudely drawn circles separating the city into supposed equivalents of New York City's five boroughs.

It placed "Staten Island" over the West Valley, "Queens" over the central and east Valley and Burbank, "Manhattan" on top of everthing between Santa Monica to downtown, "Brooklyn" of course became Los Feliz to Northeast L.A., and the Bronx was all of South L.A.

The caption on the post reads “*braces for dragging.*” And dragged he was.

In two days, the image got 2.7K retweets and 20K favorites, and was still skyrocketing until Tom Bellino deleted it. A small ratio of users applauded the New York-overlay map of L.A., but Bellino mostly faced ridicule and shade from L.A. natives and lifetimers, who mocked the image as yet another on a long list of embarrassing and inaccurate cultural statements about Southern California from arrogant East Coasters.

After deleting the image, Bellino wrote on Twitter: "Reading the replies to this, I see that a lot of people were angered and hurt by it. I am truly very sorry for being cavalier about something like this that could be representative of segregation, redlining, etc.," he said. "That was not at all my intention in making it."

In an interview Tuesday evening, Bellino told L.A. Taco that the contentious drawing came from a place of “being sick on his couch after spending a lot of the weekend in the Valley.” Bellino made several connections based on “the general vibe” of the San Fernando Valley since it reminded him of Queens, where he spent some time. Bellino, an urban planner, is actually from Chicago.

He says he wanted to expand beyond the cliché of “Silver Lake is like Brooklyn,” and wanted to see what the rest of the city would be like “if he went with that theme.”

“It isn’t at all to say that New York is the context in which you should view L.A., since some things are comparable and some things are just not,” Bellino said.

Nonetheless, the map went viral, as it seemed to strike a nerve about an influx of people from New York City contributing to the phenomenon of native Angelenos and longtime residents being priced out of their neighborhoods.

Bellino’s image inspired a slew of other New Yorkifications of major American cities, including Chicago, the Bay, and even Miami. As might be expected, there was blowback on those fronts as well. (And a purposefully nonsensical one of New York from anonymous poster Militant Angeleno.)

Today, while we accept Bellino's general apology about the map, he still deserves to be dragged a bit more for it ... So as a staunch, born-and-raised Angeleno, here are five things it got wrong.

RELATED: The Glory Days of L.A. Public Transit in 1926, Mapped

Los Angeles will always only be Los Angeles. (WikiCommons)
    1. It erases East Los Angeles and Southeast L.A.

If you’re going to try to compartmentalize our complex city for Type A/New York brains, at least don’t make it too obvious that you’re a transplant who hasn’t ventured into the beautiful and historically rich deep east and southeast neighborhoods of Los Angeles, past the areas where New Yorkers fear their borders currently lie: Highland Park and Boyle Heights. True East L.A. and the deeply Mexican American cities of Southeast L.A. are places where some of the best tacos have been made since before tacos were mainstream.

    1. It completely missed a potential parallel of Flushing to the San Gabriel Valley.

Lost your chance there, buddy, if we’re gonna take it there. I would have given you that one. But come on! The SGV is totally Flushing, Queens, the most Chinese place in contemporary New York. You are now banned from eating xiaolongbao, dim sum, and Szechuan food everywhere forever.

    1. Someone at Urbanize Los Angeles did it last year and did it better.

It’s a much more comprehensive approach with many valid points, too. "Of course, L.A. doesn’t have the defined central municipality and boroughs as New York does, and there are many lifestyle differences between the two metros. But when you look at L.A.’s historic development patterns and the current functions of its various regions, they mirror those of New York City to a surprising degree,” argued writer Jason Lapota. Not sure, but take a look.

We. Have. Tacos. (LA Taco archive)
    1. Koreatown is its own beast and will forever have no New York parallel.

The thumping heart of central L.A., Koreatown is our biggest asset in terms of food, culture, geography, and entertainment. Sorry, no place in New York even comes close. It’s actually more dense than most of New York, so take that. Koreatown offers so much sensory pleasure, you have undoubtedly thought about how L.A. is the best city imaginable while deep in your beef, soju, and karaoke euphoria — nothing beats K-Town.

    1. All marginalized immigrants who live on the edge of a city are not the same.

A first-generation Sinaloan-American living in Huntington Park is very different than a second-generation Dominican-American residing in the Bronx, sorry. Los Angeles is Los Angeles and will never be New York, no matter how bad you want it to be. This map is clearly not for people who know the joy of driving down Whittier Boulevard to East L.A. to have some of the best fish tacos outside of Ensenada, or down Pacific Boulevard to have outstanding Texas-style BBQ proudly cooked in Huntington Park, until it turns to Long Beach Boulevard down all the way to South Los Angeles. On trips like that, you are reminded that L.A.’s Los Angelesness is and will be forever.

RELATED: Koreatown’s Favorite Sports Bars: Where To See Ryu Hyun-jin Pitch For the Dodgers

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