Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Environmental and Urban Studies

Project Advisor 1

Olga Touloumi

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In this thesis, I will focus on the way in which maps have developed and been used in or by the United States, specifically government and academic institutions, in the past century to create, control, and shape urban space. I will make use of formal analysis and historical context to examine three case studies in which “conventional” maps, meaning institutional (namely, government and academic) cartography, have been used, and, it will be argued, misused, to selectively include and exclude information and collectively shape our environment. Additionally, this thesis will follow chronologically alongside the simultaneous development and refinement of mapping technologies, focusing on how these advancements in technology were fueled by, and subsequently fed into, certain understandings of the production of space. In order, the case studies I examine are the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) and Federal Housing Association (FHA) redlining maps of Philadelphia, military mappings and the development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and the Million-Dollar Blocks project by Columbia's Spatial Information Design Lab. I am investigating what – meaning what people, narratives, and experiences – is left outside of the frame of the map and to what effect. Keywords: mapping, critical cartography, GIS, Philadelphia, incarceration, urban space.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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