Theses Master's

Neighborhood Mapping and Neighborhood Planning: Revealing the Relationship in New York City, 1970-2015

Serra Coch, Glòria

Maps are a central tool to explore spatial relationships used both for analysis and implementation within the urban planning field. However, although they tend to be envisioned as scientific, rational, and objective depictions of the ground, the process of mapping follows a set of abstraction steps that imply the subjectivity of the represented. Maps are affected by the context and process of their creation and carry specific understandings or knowledge frameworks. As they are constantly used in the planning practice, this subjectivity intrinsic in the spatial representations can highly affect how the represented spaces are planned.

In this way, a feedback loop is initiated, where the context and situation on the ground affects the representation while also this one ends up informing plans and policies that will be applied to the ground. This thesis uncovers the extent and implications of this feedback loop between the represented and representation or between mapping and planning. The research focuses on a specific topic, neighborhoods, and follows it through a case study, planning in New York from 1970 to today.

The results of this temporal comparison display patterns that support the existence of a relationship between the goals of each plan, the operationalization of neighborhood that derives from those goals, their representation in the form of maps and the planning practices applied. Therefore, this work shows a case of both how the context can affect the way in which cities are represented and how the representation of cities through mapping has influenced the urban practices deployed in it. This study is essential for planners to understand the underlying mechanism in which power can exert its influence through maps and be aware of the agency that our profession plays in this process.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Meisterlin, Leah M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2019