Posts by zoemendelson:

Articles By: zoe mendelson

Zoe is a 5th-generation Chicago native currently living in Brooklyn. She loves Chicago and New York (not equally) and thinking about and walking around cities in general. She received her B.A. in Urban Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is an editor at FoodPolitic.com and a mushroom lady at many NYC Greenmarkets.

71 Square Miles-Mapping Brooklyn-Brooklyn BRIC Arts Center-Jennifer Maravillas-Fun Maps-NYC71 Square Miles, a map made of trash at BRIC Arts Center. Photo by Jason Wych

Last December, Untapped Cities visited Jennifer Maravillas in the process of creating 71 Square Miles, a 10 x 10 foot map of Brooklyn made of trash that she picked up while walking every single block of the massive borough.

Now, after three years of work, she has finished the map, and it is on display at BRIC Arts Center as part of the Mapping Brooklyn Exhibit. The show opened February 25th and closes May 3rd.


Untapped_Cities_Knitted_ManhattanWe once covered the amazing book Mapping Manhattan in which Becky Cooper collected people’s memory maps of Manhattan as she walked the length of Broadway. We also showed you the artist Olek, who yarnbombs everything she sees: from the Wall Street Bull to whole people in parks. Well now, someone has knitted a map of Manhattan. In artist Santa Wolanczyk’s piece, Knitted Manhattan, she has distorted Manhattan to mirror the distortion process of memory.

As she describes: “Our brain distorts facets and assembles imagery differently each time. Each memory is also colored by the times it has been recalled, eventually resulting in an image that is removed from the original experience. I am interested in the changes that create new representations of space and place. To imitate this abstraction, I have been deconstructing and rearranging neighborhood maps of Manhattan.”

Santa explained that she grew up between her mom’s house in a small Long Island town and her dad’s place in the East Village. “My experience with New York,” she said, “is that it has always been crazy overwhelming… but it is also so familiar and like home.” She said that growing up she rarely left her dad’s neighborhood, and didn’t even make it to Williamsburg until she was 18, which seems crazy to her now and is what sparked her fascination with how everyone experiences New York in their own way.”


To create this fourteen-foot map, Santa used a 36x12st knitting machine which reads a punch card with a pattern on it: the map for the map. For the pattern, she used traced screenshots of Google maps and then combined them with the memories that altered her personal experience of the city: “Like one time I walked all the way down to Bowling Green and couldn’t remember the way home. I sat in this triangle shaped grassy park area which is actually pretty small on the scale of the park map, but that shape makes up the pattern of the lower end of Manhattan.”

But for East Village, dense with memory, she drew her own maps before overlaying the Google maps. “It was really interesting to compare my maps to the actual maps,” she said, “to see what is important to me: the park, the bodega, certain trees, specific shops, this huge abandoned school across from my dads apartment.” Santa calls the project “a practice in deconstruction, distortion, and reassembly.”



One component of New York City’s comprehensive planning vision, PlaNYC, was the creation of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS). It measured street-level air pollution at 150 locations from 2008-2009 and 100 locations from 2010-2013. The first year’s 150 locations are displayed on the map above.



In 2012 the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the FAA under the Freedom of Information Act for the publication of the files revealing who has applied for and been granted licenses to fly drones, or unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) domestically. The files that the FAA released are each an application from an entity that wished to procure a UAV license called a Certificate of Authorization (COA) which is needed to fly a drone above 400 feet or for the military, outside of restricted airspace—which means outside of bases. Each COA application includes maps of where the drones will fly.  (more…)


This map by Tobias Salinger, “Rich Playground/Poor Playground: How Neighborhood Disparities are Reflected in NYC Parks“, a project of NYCity News Service plots the quality of New York City playgrounds against the median income of the community district they reside in. The shades of gray of each neighborhood shows the income level (darker=poorer) and the dots denote the rating of the playgrounds. The map is packed with information:


mta_wireless_Untapped_CitiesSubway Stations in NYC that have Wi-Fi and/or Cell Service. Yup, nothing in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx

Being late and stuck underground and unable to send a “Hey-I’m-running-late” is the worst. Memorize this map from WNYC’s New Tech City blog and next time you find yourself tardy on the train, you can get your text pre-typed and hit send as you approach these stations. [Technically for Wi-Fi, you’ll need to login and get through the sponsored ad in time, of course]

Useful, yes, but is this what the MTA should be spending money on? The comments on this map were just as interesting as the map itself. The consensus seems to be no, and cell service in the subways seems a lot less innocuous than it sounds: