The NYC-based Office for Creative Research, in collaboration with COCA, took over the gymnasium in the now closed Stevens School from March 3–April 9, 2017 to create The St. Louis Map Room: a community space for exploring and creating original, interpretive maps of the city. These maps are currently on display throughout the community.
Free and open to the public, visitors were invited to explore present and historic civic data using maps as instruments. Interactive projections allowed viewers to overlay these community maps with census data, historic city-planning maps, live policing data, and more, to understand how the community has been shaped by acts of mapping.
The St. Louis Map Room was a collaborative project between The Office of Creative Research and COCA in partnership with the St. Louis Public Schools, and with generous support from the Regional Arts Commission, PNC Arts Alive, and the Missouri Humanities Council.
COCA’s lead advisor/artist for The St. Louis Map Room Jer Thorp, has a distinguished track record of projects that explore the intersection of art, culture, and technology. He currently teaches at New York University’s ITP and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council of Design Innovation. During his 2014 visit to St. Louis, Jer was struck by the city’s divided geography and began to explore the role that map-making has on the identity of communities and its residents.
For more information on The Office of Creative Research, please visit ocr.nyc/
Using colors and icons, the makers of this map designated spaces they frequent and feel connection and ownership to; circles indicate areas of impact. Places designated under ‘Future Curiosity’ illustrate locations that, in creating this map, the makers felt compelled to visit and include.
Anti-Defamation Leagues (ADL) By Anti-Defamation League, Member and Friends
Using color pairs, these map-makers delineated different spaces tied to their personal histories and the routes they take in their daily lives. Using the color key, the map illustrates which areas are frequented by different individuals and by demographic categories.
Brittany Woods Middle School By Brittany Woods Middle School Students
The visiting class set out to make a map that described their experiences with the area around them. Using the key, you can determine from each icon the gender of the writer, their race, and whether they feel comfortable or uncomfortable in the identified places.
Carr Lane Middle School By Carr Lane Middle School Students
The students used four different colors to code their experiences in the city. Referencing the key, you can determine whether the places marked are places the students like or do not like to visit; have to, or wish they could visit. Multiple students left comments on the same location, allowing for different perspectives.
COCA (Pilot Number 1) By COCA Staff and Teaching Artists
The first map created on-site at the Map Room features several travel routes, parks, and the locations of different schools where COCA faculty teach.
COCA (Pilot Number 2) By COCA Staff
This map charts out the different routes that the map-makers take in their daily lives. By referencing the key, you can determine which paths and places were set down by which contributors.
COCA By COCA Staff and Faculty
Created by a diverse group of COCA staff and faculty, this map features the experiences and significant locations of the makers, sorted by generation. Some locations are generation specific, like Sportsman’s Park. Others are universal experiences, like Busch Stadium. Small drawings and captions reveal personal stories about the map makers.
Community Emerging Artists Group By Local Young Artists and Friends
This map picks out the various places of significance frequented by the map-makers, focused primarily across South City. Many of the points have captions to add detail; dotted lines indicate frequent walking or biking routes, and the large pink lettering indicates different neighborhoods and areas within St. Louis.
Diversity Awareness Partnership (DAP) By DAP
This map displays the connections between schools and sponsors participating in the DAP’s “Give Respect, Get Respect” program. It also includes information on the DAP’s training objectives.
Dutchtown Business Association By Downtown Dutchtown Business Association Members
This focused map designates points of interest, points of opportunity, and the different median household income levels in the Downtown Dutchtown area. It also marks the boundaries of the neighborhood’s commercial district and the proposed Dutchtown Community Improvement District.
Forward Through Ferguson By Forward through Ferguson
Dividing up the St. Louis region by zip code, this map shows current inequalities in life expectancy, as it differs between zip codes. However, the map also proposes a vision of St. Louis’ future, in which life expectancy does not differ by race, income or place of birth.
Gateway Greening By Gateway Greening
This map shows the locations of many school and community gardens in St. Louis, along with pictures and stories about the gardens. The city’s designated Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) properties are illustrated as opportunities for gardens and outreach.
Goodmap By Goodmap
This map depicts a dual vision of St. Louis: Past and Future. The past key designates red and orange areas as locations that were negatively impacted by historical redlining. The future key re-envisions the same areas as locations of intentional economic reinvestment. With an upside down orientation, the mapmakers hoped to challenge preconceptions about St. Louis.
Gravois Jefferson Historic Neighborhood Planning Committee By Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhood Planning Committee Members
Transportation lines through the neighborhood, both past and present, outline different ways people get around the area. Other map features include the Committee’s vision for the future, ward boundaries, neighborhood features, and the opportunities presented by the location of St. Louis city’s designated Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) properties.
I am the Gate By Outpour Church Members
In a map that is both aesthetic and personal, the map-makers used the space to mark different churches of historical and local significance, hubs of theological education, and personal testimonies. Accompanying each mark is a small drawing, referenced from photos of the locations in question, which give each anecdote added personal character.
MISSOURI HISTORY MUSEUM By Missouri History Museum Education Staff
Featuring dozens of photographs, this map creates a visual history of St. Louis, highlighting different locations of interest and charting out places of significance. Each photo has a caption, and many other interesting historical pieces are marked across the map.
LGBT Community By LGBT Community Members
The LGBT map indicates closed and open queer-identified spaces in St. Louis, queer-friendly areas, and past and present Pride Festival routes.
Migration Map By Regional Arts Commission, Community Arts Training (CAT) Alumni
The map-makers chose to knit together different aspects of human movement through St. Louis in the past and present. By orienting the map with the Mississippi River running horizontally, rather than vertically, the map also challenges the perspective created by historical St. Louis maps.
Northwest Academy of Law By Northwest Academy of Law High School Students
The students who created this map charted out the locations of good and bad memories, as well as places of importance and homes of friends and family. In and around the site of the Gateway Arch, they wrote their memories and perceptions of St. Louis’ most iconic landmark.
Painty Hands By Craft Alliance High School Artists
In a map without words, the map-makers chose to use color and shape to mark places of familiarity and inspiration, including their homes. The map is presented upside-down as an aesthetic choice.
Redlining, 1930s By Wells Fargo, African American Affinity Group
Focused on The Ville and The Greater Ville neighborhoods in North St. Louis, this map marks out areas impacted by redlining in the 1930s and how that played into the creation of the Delmar Divide and the history of African-American housing and home ownership in the city. The inclusion of current income levels demonstrate how these differences persist.
St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Children’s Health Advocacy Outreach (CHAO) By CHAO Team
This expansive map charts out different areas of impact that the Hospital’s CHAO division reaches. The key allows you to see the different programs CHAO sponsors and the places they go, well beyond the city and county borders.
St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) By SLPS Curriculum Developers
This map marks out the locations of different city schools, parks, and the effect that the schools can have on the community around them. In particular, the map-makers illustrated how magnet schools draw from across the city/county line, countering the traditional perspective that the St. Louis County Schools are always preferable to the St. Louis City Schools.
STL Foodbank By St. Louis Area Foodbank
This map outlines the deliveries the St. Louis Area Foodbank made to partner agencies during one week of March 2017. On the map’s left side, quick facts about hunger in St. Louis and the work of the Foodbank contextualizes the map and what the delivery routes represent. The map also notes the foodbank’s additional partner agencies, pickup locations, and mobile markets.
TEAM TIF STL By Team TIF
Dividing St. Louis by its designated neighborhoods, Team TIF created a map that outlines concentrations of St. Louis city’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) properties in contrast to the value of property tax abatements from 2000-2014. The contrast challenges the assertion that tax abatements are being used to incentivize development in ‘blighted’ areas.
Trailnet By Trailnet
This map features a slice of navigating St. Louis by bike. Blue lines indicate bike lanes and greenways, and different icons highlight bike-friendly attractions. The circles center on intersections where Trailnet measured the average number of bikes and pedestrians that passed in a 2-hour afternoon window to illustrate the level of bike traffic in contrast to the bike infrastructure nearby.
University City High School By University City High School Students
The students used a different color combination to designate places they frequent and the places where they have lived.