West Philadelphia Neighborhood

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This collection of historical data visualizations demonstrates the ways data visualization and mapping can contextualize ethnographic data, as well as generate new ethnographic questions. They chart the conditions of built homes and neighborhoods and reveal the social structures that organized domestic life in the second half of the 20th Century. Taken together, these pages visualize the complex web of material and invisible relationships that constitute West Philadelphia.

As a model for a site that takes this concept further by integrating contemporary structural data with ethnographic narratives, see The Side Unseen on structural violence in North Philadelphia. 

All demographic data is taken from the US Decennial Census.

Land Use and Events Map



The Modern Laundry Site: From Toxicity to Health Care

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The Modern Laundry and Dry Cleaning was Philadelphia's largest commercial dry-cleaner and located at Market and 41st since the 1920s. The site was abandoned in 1991 leaving behind a number of underground tanks that contained fuel and chemical cleaning solutions. Note the nearby school, market and churches. Today, a chain drug store stands with a parking lot where the laundry itself stood. A restaurant is zoned for the empty lot across the street. (Philadelphia Business Journal, 4/21/97)



VizE Lab for Ethnographic Data Visualization
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