• Mapping the Hood

last modified May 14, 2012 by tomlowenhaupt

This project supports the creation of neighborhood maps for Connecting.nyc Inc.'s dotNeighborhoods initiative, its NYCwiki.org collaboration, and getting healthy!

Biking Through Time


(Image courtesy of Library of Congress)


(Image courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Project Resources & Partners
  • Bikenyc.org
  • Internet Week
  • Connecting.nyc Inc.
  • OpenPaths
  • Wikimedia-NYC

Project Accounts
Additional Tasks

We have several tasks ahead and invite participation:

  • Connecting with the OpenPaths API
  • Creating a process to merge submissions for a  "consensus" neighborhood map?
  • Do design and code for installing maps on on NYCwiki.org using OpenStreetMap.
  • Post maps to NYCwiki.org























Mapping City Neighborhoods will help define and empower New York City neighborhoods in preparation for the arrival of the .nyc TLD, expected in 2013 (.nyc is like .com and .org but just for New York). We've big dreams for what we call dotNeighborhoods and maps are a important part of them. We want to generate neighborhood maps through events such as Bikenyc.org. These will initially be displayed on NYCwiki.org, and moved to the various dotNeighborhood sites with the .nyc TLD's activation.


    Within two years New Yorkers are going to have access to great neighborhood communication systems for the first time ever - see dotNeighborhoods. And on Sunday, May 13 and Saturday, May 19, we're calling on neighborhood lovers around the city to help create an important part of this new system - digital maps indicating neighborhood borders. (New York City neighborhoods are unofficial designations, always changing, and no official maps now exist.) To participate, Bikers will activate the Open Paths app on their Android or iPhones, slip the phone in their pocket or backpack, circumnavigate their neighborhood, and enable us to see their data-path.

    The background...

      Today, the city's neighborhoods provide some limited socio-economic context, but little functionality. Local communication channels in NYC do not served the needs of a vibrant civic life - there's no neighborhood radio, TV, or daily newspapers. Over the past decade the Internet has provided some relief, but as local digital resources proliferate, we face the prospect of drowning in our chocolate. But the arrival of the .nyc TLD provides New Yorkers with the opportunity to have great local communication systems for the first time ever. With .nyc's arrival we'll have access to digital neighborhood names like Astoria.nyc, Bensonhurst.nyc, CityIsland.nyc, DonganHills.nyc, Elmhurst.nyc, Flatbush.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, Harlem.nyc... See all 352 neighborhood names at http://NYCwiki.org - the development site for these "dotNeighborhoods".

      The dream

        Thoughtfully developed, these dotNeighborhood names provide the basis for creating great local communication hubs. Imagine using the latest digital tools to connect with one another, and using decision-making and organizing tools to improve the quality of our lives. This works best if tied into a defined area at the right scale - a neighborhood map. What type of neighborhood will you create?

        Getting ready to roll

        STEP BY STEP: To help create digital maps defining the city's neighborhoods, mappers should take these steps prior to their mapping expedition:
        1. This is the hardest part: Draw a neighborhood border map. Talk to neighbors, your community board, elected representatives, school officials, the police precinct, retailer stores, and others who might have a sense of the historic and current neighborhood borders. You'll find differences of opinion as there are no official neighborhood borders, and they change with time. Your border map will be merged with maps submitted by others to create a Consensus Neighborhood Map. NOTE: This map is not of “your personal neighborhood,” but that of a named neighborhood. However, if you choose to stake an independent course, just detail the basis for your-neighborhood in your email.
        2. Install OpenPaths on your Android or iPhone. See New York Times Labs https://openpaths.cc/ for instructions.
        3. Get familiar with how OpenPaths works.

        On mapping day... (May 19 or otherwise: we'll accept data until the end of May. But you must tell us in your email when you rode the perimeter to help us locate the data.)
        1. Get your map and your Open Paths enabled cellphone, and bike to any point on your neighborhood's border. This will be the Start Point.
        2. "Geo-mark" that location as the Start Point. To "geo-mark" a location, press the OpenPaths icon on your cell phone.
        3. Circumnavigate your neighborhood and return to the Start Point. Depending up the phone you use, your position will be saved approximately every 100 yards.
        4. Upon returning to the Start Point press the OpenPaths icon to geo-mark that location a second time, this time as the Finish Point.

        Sending us the data...

        This is where we differ from a standard Open Paths project.
        1. At your convenience, go to My Data in http://OpenPaths.cc. (After you login to OpenPaths you'll see My Data on the top right.)
        2. Download your data file in KML format.
        3. Send that data to us.
        • Attach the data file to an email and send it to maps@connectingnyc.org.
        • Note the neighborhood name in the Subject area.
        • It would be helpful (but not required) if the email included background and process information, things like how long you've lived in the neighborhood and the process used to determine the border. Since neighborhood borders are unofficial and change over time, this background information will be help us in making a "quality" assessment to the data submitted.
        The follow up...

        Upon receipt of your Open Paths data we will:
        1. Locate the neighborhood data within the Open Paths data file, using the Start and Finish Points. (You can send us the entire KML file or just send us the neighborhood data if you prefer. But note that we will discard all but the neighborhood map data.)
        2. Sort the data sets submitted by neighborhood name. (We're hoping to receive more than one data-set for some neighborhoods.)
        3. Create "Consensus Neighborhood Maps" for each neighborhood.
        4. Post the maps to the NYCwiki.org.
        5. With the activation of the .nyc TLD we'll move the maps over to their appropriate neighborhood names.

        Data will be used to help draw neighborhood maps that will become part of the NYCWiki.org site.

        We will not share the data files with any other entity. Will will extract and save only the neighborhood data as indicated by the Start Point and Finish Point. We will not identify any map with an individual by name.

        We will make the results of our effort available on the NYCwiki.org site. We anticipate this information will provide the basis for the city's dotNeighborhood websites.

        We will present the results of this and other NYCwiki.org experiences at Wikimania Conference in Washington D.C., July 13, 2012.

          About Us

            Mapping the Hood was organized by Connecting.nyc Inc. the NYS not-for-profit advocating for the development of the.nyc TLD as a public interest resource. Links to our Key .nyc Pages are available at the bottom of this page.

            Related Links

            • Open Paths - Load the Open Paths app for your Android or iPhone.

              Key .nyc Pages