Mapping Urban Culture

7/10/2009 Uncategorized


In addition to the beautifully complex and original information graphics (to which we Utilians are endlessly attracted), Ward Shelley’s “Downtown Body” (courtesy of Pierogi Gallery, via Bomb Magazine) offers a valuable tool in defining urban place through the lens of culture.  More specifically, Shelley’s timeline charts the intersections of various cultural milestones through the decades in New York, tracked by disciplines such as literature and music.  As planners, urban designers and architects, we are predisposed to measure “place” in terms of physical space.  Shelley offers an alternative, more nuanced model for tracking non-spatial forces shaping “downtown.”  The beauty of this diagram suggests that we might, in our future analyses of program and use, add another layer called “culture.”