As I have explored this city over the years in photography I am often faced with the dilemma of describing the neighborhood in which they were taken and it's not always easy. My search started a few years ago when I scoured Google images for maps in an effort to get a definitive answer and after seeing many decent (and many mediocre) contenders, I found one that seemed to include the locally-accepted ideas about boundaries and embraced some of the new, blasphemous additions. This is the main point of contention as many of the rabidly-patriotic locals refuse to recognize these "pointless, redundant displays of renewed self-identification by yuppie transplants," as one long-time resident put it. Whether or not you subscribe to this polarized viewpoint is inconsequential as you will soon see because if anything, the map is incredibly good-looking.
This dapper map was rendered by artist Alexander Cheek and was once found on his website but it seems Mr. Cheek has moved on to bigger and better things as it has been 404 for some time now.* Not to worry as it will now be hosted here for all eternity (or at least until the end of Blogger). Remember this was completed at the very end of 2006 so for all we know, the fluid nature of the boundaries may now very well make Manhattan's neighborhoods seem a random assemblage of ink puddles instead of the tidy arrangement we all know and love that resembles cuts of beef.
*Update (Jun 15, 2010 02:28:30): Apparently the map hasn't been completely 404'd. The current version can be found on his main page and it seems part of him moving on to bigger and better things was his map being featured in the New York Post, albeit uncredited. As if the pun of the Meatpacking District wasn't enough, the updated map includes a new area named Tenderloin. I swear I'm not making this up. Check it out. (It's below Koreatown.)