My New View of Philadelphia

As the Drexel co-op at the STEAM Initiatives department at the Science Center, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Esther and Ivar since their arrival here in Philadelphia.  I’ve heard them explain their project to person after person, and I’m still working on the best way to describe this new concept that they’ve invented: the “NavDoc.”

A documentary made in Google Earth isn’t something you hear about every day, and the idea of finding participants all over Philadelphia sounds like quite the challenge.  When we were brainstorming about how to find people, Esther and Ivar made the numbered map below as a tool to help with the process.  In my opinion, it captures the basic essence of their project.

Split Philadelphia up into 24 parts, and find 24 very different people to share their thoughts. While this strategy is a bit random since it doesn’t go by neighborhoods or areas of dense population, it’s a great way to find a group that will together cover the whole city of Philadelphia.

A graphic showing the city of Philadelphia's shape with a grid placed over it...Boxes are numbered one through twenty four.

Initially, we thought we could easily get a third of the squares through connections and acquaintances.  I even figured I could find 3 or 4 squares.  Sure I know people in Center City, plenty of students, people in South Philly and the Mantua area too.  We would need to see a more detailed map to be sure though.

That’s when Ivar made this…

The map of Philadelphia again with a grid overlaying it...This time the map is more detailed, showing the actual neighborhoods in Philadelphia and where they fall on the grid.

Now if you can zoom in on this, you’ll see what surprised me.  University City, a lot of Center City, and South Philly are all in one square!  To me, this was a fantastic new perspective.  It showed just how large Philadelphia is, when many people only think of it as the more densely populated or busier areas.

Once we have our participants, it’s going to be interesting to hear their perspective based on the area they are from.

I found this so interesting.  What was your reaction when you saw these two maps?  Have you been to each square?