What does an area with dashed lines mean on Google Maps? Specifically, Julian, CA.

  • Julian is not an incorporated city so there is no boundary for that.
  • The area highlighted is not the boundary for the Julian ZIP code, 92036 map.
  • It is also not the boundary for the main Julian phone exchange, (760) 765-xxxx.
  • It is not a collection of sub-divisions as the southern edge divides parts of Imperial Dr. even though both sides of the line are in the same sub-division.
  • It is not the boundary for any fires in the last century.
  • It is not the boundary for the Julian Historic District map on page 7.

Also, where is this documented?

Julian, CA in Google Maps


3 Answers 3


These are city and sub-locality boundaries that are displayed when you search for a specific locality.

  • I'll try to locate the document for this - I do remember seeing this but don't have it handy. Feb 24, 2012 at 23:05
  • There are several possibilities listed in the question. Since it is not any of those, what specifically is it in this case? Oct 16, 2023 at 18:43
  • @CWHolemanII I updated my answer Oct 16, 2023 at 19:29
  • What specific 'sub-locality boundaries' in this case, is the question. Oct 17, 2023 at 4:55

This means the area is highlighted due to one of your searches. A reader at the Google Operating System blog further explains this:

When you search for a city or a county or a ZIP Code, Google Maps now highlights the boundaries of what you searched for. If you are zoomed out, the whole area is shaded pink. If you zoom in a bit, it has just a big pink border with grey shading. Zoom in even more and it's a dashed boundary with grey shading.

Comment by Rodney G on "Highlight Areas in Google Maps"

  • 1
    There are several possibilities listed in the question. Since it is not any of those, what specifically is it in this case? Oct 16, 2023 at 18:43


The red dotted line is the place boundary corresponding to the active knowledge panel, in this case, the knowledge panel for Julian, CA. According to Wikipedia, cited in the knowledge panel, Julian is an official California Historical Landmark.

Google Maps no longer uses "pink" to highlight a search result; instead, a red dotted line shows the boundary of the place.

As of October 16, 2023, the Google Maps user interface still varies according to user context, as it has been doing for a long time. Unfortunately, the screenshot in the question is cropped, and it's not showing the leftmost part of the screen.

The leftmost part has a vertical bar. On this bar, there is a thumbnail for each place recently searched. To the right, a panel shows the search box with the search query. Below the search box is a knowledge panel. Ref. How Google's Knowledge Graph works.

Google Maps side panel for Julian, CA

The knowledge panel Left side

California 92036

Right side

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Quick Facts

This section has More link. Clicking on this link expands

Julian is a census-designated place in San Diego County, California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 1,768, up from 1,502 at the time of the 2010 census. Julian is an official California Historical Landmark.Wikipedia

The word Wikipedia has a link pointing to the source.

Below, there are other sections, but I will stop here as the core of the question has been answered at this point.

Related help articles


Google Maps design theme was updated after most all previous answers. This was announced in a blog article Google Maps gets a new look, Nov 15, 2017.

As of October 11, 2023, this blog article is still linked from the Google Maps Help article Use layers to find places, traffic, terrain, biking & transit.

Nowadays, the location in question, Julian, CA, doesn't have a particular fill color; the area boundary is a red dotted line.

When searching in Google Maps for a location with an area like city, zip code, district, or metropolitan area, Google Maps will navigate to the location and adjust the zoom to show the whole area. As mentioned above, the active place boundary is shown as a red dotted line. The leftmost panel will show several thumbnails if you have done several recent searches. Clicking on them navigates to the place location, showing the place boundary with a red dotted line.

Google Maps Side Panel showing two places


  • 1
    The panel describes 'a census-designated place' & a 'Historical Landmark'. The question is what is the dashed line boundary? Oct 17, 2023 at 5:04
  • @CW Holeman II The TL;DR says : "The red dotted line is the place boundary corresponding to the active knowledge panel," Oct 17, 2023 at 5:06
  • 1
    OK. the panel lists two things, 'a census-designated place' & a 'Historical Landmark'. Which one is the boundary for? Oct 17, 2023 at 5:10
  • Google is quoting Wikipedia. You could go to the corresponding Wikipedia article and ask a Wikipedian. Another option is that you ask a question on Geographic Information Systems. Oct 17, 2023 at 5:16

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