Maps are a tool of discovery. They make it possible to see patterns of population, property, topography, and abandonment, and changes across space and time. Maps can reveal forces, like the flows of water and capital, which would otherwise be invisible. Maps also convey visions for the future.
WPLP has mapped West Philadelphia and its Mill Creek watershed for more than thirty years. At first, we drew maps on paper, but, by 1988, we exploited the growing capacity of computers to create digital maps, which revealed new information about the buried creek and its impact on patterns of vacant land. From 1996, we have posted our maps on the WPLP website. We introduced new interactive maps as these became possible. And we present proposals for the future through maps.