Stories In Place

· · · · · · · · · · | Thesis · Collective Narratives

These walking tours, and my thesis, have me thinking a lot about tying stories to place.

How do we affectively tell stories rooted in place and spanning through time? How do we tell the communal narrative of place – including the changes to it over and through time?

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my own relationship the NYC. What places here mean the most to me? What stories do I associate with which places? Why do certain parts of this city feel so familiar and home like?

One of the places in NYC I’ve found myself attached to is Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park. My attachment to these places makes perfect sense. This was the first part of New York I ever lived in. I moved here at 18 years old into a dorm on 5th ave and 8th st. The dorm was an old SRO building that had once housed famous beat poets in the 50s as well many avant garde artists and musicians in the 60-80s. I was a fresh faced angsty suburbanite who was thrown into a wonderful world of myth, legend and history.

Washington Square Park was like a second home that year. I lived in a tiny room and shared everything with another person. Home extended anywhere I could find some personal space and social time. And more often than not that was the park. A place to sleep, a place to eat, a place to gather and throw snowballs. It was a very sentimental time in my life and I can’t walk past the park now without feeling that new found sense of home and joy that I experienced so acutely in those early days.

I was thinking about what to make for this project, with the park still lingering in the back of my mind, and I picked up this book :

(a gift I bought myself years ago – I am a lover of maps and the city history)

I found myself marking all of the maps where I saw a representation of the park. And was fascinated by the way most of these maps told their own story of NYC. And how in culmination they portrayed a more complex narrative of history, ambition, revolt, and perception.

I singled out some maps that clearly depicted Washington Square Park and began to conceptualize a modular map box that would allow a user/viewer to layer maps of the park almost as if they were layering history into space.

This is what I first conceived:

These are the maps I chose to focus on:

So I got to work making it:

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