Previous: BUTFARTMAN Is Coming To Town!
Next: The Best and Worst of 2014



View count:294,938
Last sync:2024-05-02 08:45


Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "Agloe, New York." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 23 December 2014,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2014)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2014, December 23). Agloe, New York [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2014)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "Agloe, New York.", December 23, 2014, YouTube, 03:08,
In which John Green talks about Paper Towns, Agloe New York, the strange relationship between the real and the fictional, and the great gift of seeing the imagined become real.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
John's twitter -
John's tumblr -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -

Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday. The Paper Towns movie finished shooting a couple days ago so I am home. I'm tired and a little bit sick, and as you can probably hear, my voice has been rode hard and put away wet, but I'm happy to be home and am so grateful to everybody who worked so hard on the Paper Towns movie.

So Hank, this is a map of New York created by the General Drafting Company for the gas station ESSO. I suppose I should explain for our younger viewers that this is essentially like a static version of Google Maps printed on a very large sheet of paper.

But anyway, this particular map is interesting because where— wait, where are you? Ah! There you are.

So this map is kind of famous to cartography nerds and also to readers of Paper Towns because just north of a little town called Rockland, New York, it contains Agloe, New York.

Agloe was a town made up by the two guys who created this map, Ernest G Alpers and Otto Lindbergh. They took their initials together, mixed them up, and made Agloe. And then they put their little fake town in the middle of nowhere, at the intersection of two dirt roads in the Catskills.

They did this to protect their copyright. Mapmakers have always created these little 'paper towns' or 'paper streets' so if they see them on someone else's map, they'll know that they've been robbed.

Anyway, flash forward like forty years after the first General Drafting map with Agloe, New York on it, Rand McNally makes a map with Agloe, New York on it.

And when General Drafting calls Rand McNally to be like "We're gonna sue you" Rand McNally says, "NONONONO! Agloe is real!"

Because people kept going to that intersection of two dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, expecting a place called Agloe, someone built a place called Agloe. Essentially, Hank, the story of Agloe, New York is the story of a fiction that became real.

Now, I would argue that this happens to fictions and constructions all the time, like I remember one time in college I told one of my professors that things that are constructed aren't really real, and my professor was like, "Well, this chair is constructed, but if I hit you with it, it is going to hurt."

The truth is, Hank, the way we imagine the world does end up shaping reality. And the book Paper Towns is about how we hurt ourselves and each other when we imagine other people as less than human or more than human.

But I guess what interests me most is the way that our incomplete imaginings of people and their incomplete imaginings of us end up shaping our lives really profoundly.

So anyway, back in 2008 I published a story about how like the merely imagined can, in my opinion, become really real. And then Agloe, New York, which had originally been fictional and then became real and then sort of fell into disrepair and disappeared again, kind of became real again.

Readers started making pilgrimages to Agloe, they found the site of the former Agloe general store, one of them even made a fake historical marker which, I guess, come to think of it, is kind of a real historical marker?

And then, six years later, largely thanks to readers continuing to care about Q and Margo and Agloe, people in Hollywood decided to make a movie, and it all became real again, in a way.

I got to meet all of these people that I'd imagined and go inside of their houses and visit Agloe, New York with them.

Hank, the journey of this to this has been the weirdest and most wonderful part of what has been a very weird and wonderful year for me, personally. So I just wanted to take a second to thank everyone who's made Paper Towns real by virtue of reading it and, in turn, made Agloe real again.

Of course, I know that Agloe will, again, cease to exist someday, as everything does. But I think it's pretty cool that, together, we've made it real for awhile. Thanks for that. I can't even begin to explain what a gift it's been for me.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.