tool, technique, aspiration, application, Mapping, Digital Harlem, Skytop Quarry Syracuse, thick-map, counter-map, ghost-map
This thesis contends that the tool of mapping, as well as its various techniques and typologies, can uncover historical identities in the urban landscape, so as to generate rich, spatial narratives of place. Through alternative and contemporary methods of mapping, (e.g. drift, layering, game-board, thick-mapping, ghost-mapping, and counter-mapping), community stories are layered to reveal a complete and unaltered genius loci (spirit of place). Fragments of the urban fabric that were once erased, excluded, or edited, are now reframed for the work they do to contain and convey, and reinterpret to revitalize this neighborhood while drawing on its past. Acknowledging what exactly predates a place enables meaningful projections of public space, which serve as powerful assets for entire communities to claim ownership of and share democratically. In turn, thoughtful public space will initiate deep connections between human and place.
The Brewerytown neighborhood of Philadelphia is a prototype for employing contemporary mapping efforts to uncover the history of place. In the late 1800s, the once industrial site contained 700 breweries and held the title of ‘America’s Beer Capital’. Once Prohibition was introduced in 1920, almost all the breweries left for the Midwest. Since then, the area has seen crime and blight in the 1990s, and now in the 21st century, a wave of gentrification. As a result, the Brewerytown district today has scant allusion to its incredible past, and a disappointing lack of its former identity, cultural essence and sense of place.
Outcomes of the mapping process will inform considerate interventions to spur community revitalization, specifically taking shape through public space as place. The instances of placemaking will act as urban acupuncture, which are small-scale interventions to transform the larger urban context.
Chelak, Elise, "Activating Place: America’s Former Beer Capital" (2019). Architecture Senior Theses. 425.
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