Find Your Neighborhood on This Interactive Map Made From Local Brooklyn Litter

Posted On Fri, April 15, 2016 By

Posted On Fri, April 15, 2016 By In Art, Brooklyn, maps

There’s no shortage of trash in NYC–even better than seeing it picked up is when someone is doing something interesting with it. Atlas Obscura introduces us to artist-cartographer Jennifer Maravillas, who has transformed the litter found in neighborhoods throughout the 71 square miles (the map is called “71 Square Miles”) of Brooklyn into a map of the borough.

Each neighborhood on the map is made up of paper litter–like flyers, advertisements and notes–found in that same neighborhood. The result is a bright, multicolored collage on which each bit of litter corresponds the place Maravillas found it. You can enter your address and find it on the interactive map, along with the trash you might see every day.


Though Maravillas thought it would only take a few months, the map took three years–and a move to Brooklyn from San Francisco–to complete. To collect the trash from each neighborhood, she took hundreds of walks, tracking her progress with pen and paper and then using an app, and catalogued each piece of litter she found (she admits it was “a little OCD.”). Her brother, Matthew, is a software developer, and the duo, as Studio Maravillas, create work that combines social and cultural investigation with digital cartography.

trash map 3

Did the kind of detritus differ by neighborhood? Maravillas says yes, which is what makes the result so cool: Within Brooklyn, each neighborhood’s trash reflected what people were focused on there, sometimes indicating topics like religion, school, or community, sometimes different languages. “I chose trash as a medium,” says Maravillas, “because, first of all, it’s everywhere. It says a lot about each place.” The piece was exhibited at BRIC Arts Media center from February to May of 2015.

Her next project: “232 Square Miles,” a map of–you guessed it–all five New York City boroughs made of local litter. She estimates it will take at least ten years, but she’s looking forward to it, hoping to find locals who will accompany her on her neighborhood walks and help her find out more about each neighborhood in the process, unlocking the secrets behind its trash.

Photos © Jennifer Maravillas.

[Via Atlas Obscura]


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