Mapping the way to revitalize Pittsburgh's
historic Hill District
historic Hill District
Pittsburgh's Hill District was a famous stop for many jazz acts during the 20s-50s, and although it has recently fallen on harder times, many organizations there are hoping to restore the Hill's status as one of Pittsburgh's most vibrant neighborhood. As the neighborhood has been making these changes, however, many outside of its boundaries, remain unaware of the current projects being undertaken in their own backyard, as well as the historic significance of the neighborhood. To garner awareness, and participation in the Hill's current transformation, I developed a web app called UpHill, which enables users to view a map of the Hill, discover the Hill's geographic relationship with the city's other neighborhoods and learn more about current and historic places in the Hill.
With the map, the videos and the photo archives, the site has many components that need to flow harmoniously. By having the site elements mimic the pop out effects of the map elements, I sought to create a more unified front. Additionally, by using an abundance of white space, balanced by pops of color, I made the site more visually connected to the black and white photos; hinting at the Hill's future and it's past. New features also include an events panel and email mailing list. As the site's ultimate goal is to rejuvenate interest and investment in the Hill, my hope is that people who leave near it will be able to stop by the page and become active in the events that they see posted there. I have teamed up with local community organizations such as the YMCA to keep the events page full of info.
The Hill today and the Hill tomorrow
Right now, the map points are the traditional map points that you usually see on sites like Google Maps or MapQuest, but I'm seeking to revise the map points, especially ones that relate to highly relevant venues. The Hill has a slew of historic jazz venues and they will instead be represented with icons in the style of those above. Because many of these buildings do not exist in the state that the icons portray them in, I felt that this would not only be a great way to enable people to imagine what the Hill was like, but also what the can become again.
This project really pushed my limits. Although the main component of the site is a map, which spells out historic and current places of interest in the Hill, from the map, users can access interviews with locals connected to the locations portrayed on the map as well as a written history and photos of each of the map points. Along with designing and coding the website, I have also been filming and editing the interviews and gathering information from sources as diverse as the city library to photo archives of residents who lived in the Hill. It has been an intense process, but after much ideation, I came to the conclusion that this was the correct way to go about creating a system to renew interest in the Hill. People often have a hard time realizing spaces and the people who live there, so attacking the problem from the angle of not only allowing them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the geography, but also the people of the Hill was the only way that this project would work.