Wednesday, November 28, 2007

“Maps in the Public Square” Exhibit Explores Chicago’s Past, Present and Future

Maps are not only tools that get you from Point A to Point B. They can also expose visually an important story about resource patterns and trends of a defined area. They tackle social questions like, “Are Starbucks an indicator of gentrification?” or “Do lower-income communities have less access to fresh produce?” Depicting instances like these help community members and planners better deal with the needs of an area that may not always be clear.

This year, Festival of Maps includes an online exhibit, “Maps in the Public Square: An Atlas of the Next Chicago Region”, highlighting the creative combination of mapmaking and public policy in the Chicago region. The region’s groundbreaking advances in regional planning, sustainable urban development, and community decision-making have been supported and given shape by equally groundbreaking cartography. The exhibit draws on both the deep Chicago well of public discussion and the newest mapmaking technologies to create an annotated atlas of the best of the recent work in this area.

With contributions from CNT, Openlands, and Chicago Metropolis 2020, to name a few, these maps tell historical stories about the region and also reveal future implications through different topics like ‘work’ ‘moving’ ‘plans and visions’ and ‘play’.

Where are the emerging art-focused neighborhoods? Where are the ‘food deserts’ in Chicago? What is the average household transportation expense in a particular district? These are just some of the fascinating questions that can be explored at this online exhibit that runs into 2008 and will then become an online atlas. The exhibit contains over sixty map images as well as links to online mapping website and is curated is Mark Bouman, Professor of Geography at Chicago State University.

Peruse the exhibit at

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