Neighborhood boundaries are a fluid thing. My definition what encompasses my neighborhood (Multnomah Village in Portland) may vary greatly from the person across street.

It’s also one of the Holy Grails to online search. The ability to confine a search to a particular neighborhood. Roost does this particularly well, as does Estately and to a lesser degree Zillow.

Zillow also took the step of creating a set of neighborhood boundaries (over 7000 of them) that they released earlier this year in Shapefile format.

Another effort is slowly taking shape (literally) however. The popular photo-sharing site Flickr is also releasing Shapefiles of neighborhoods, using the data it collects from the geotagged photos in its database to accumulate a collective definition of what makes a neighborhood.

The project, which is in early Alpha, can best be viewed on the mashup site Neighborhood Boundaries. Simply punch in your neighborhood name (or city name) and see how the boundaries are being defined in your neck of the woods.

Again, this is early Alpha, so many markets won’t have much coverage. But the possibility of user-defined neighborhood boundaries is intriguing to say the least.

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