The Visualizing Cities Lab has been an eye-opening experience for me this year. As a returning member, I was astounded, yet again, by the innovation and creativity from my peers as we came up with new perspectives for analyzing the cities and expanding on ideas from the previous year. This semester, I had the opportunity to work with Team Chicago to better understand Black lives during the 1930s and 1940s. At first, the focus of our project was intended to better understand Bronzeville during the time of and the time surrounding the Chicago’s World Fair. Our main source of information and data was The Chicago Defender, an important newspaper for the black community in Chicago at the time and an invaluable source of information today. As time passed and as the team began to collaborate, the focus of the project became to focus more closely on the community within Bronzeville and mapping out the changes in centers of community over time. For instance, a few of the key terms for community we focused on included churches, clubs, education and more. Beyond community, we also focused on analyzing and mapping the contextual environment surrounding Chicago during the time period as well. This, as a result, gave us the opportunity to make new connections and understand community under a different light. Additionally, my main contribution was introducing the Provident Hospital to the discussions of community. After looking through The Chicago Defender, I came across an article that highlighted the important role the new hospital had within the community. The article especially highlighted the role various women from different social background had in the creation and maintenance of the hospital. My hope, for future semesters, is to better understand the role the hospital plays in terms of other health centers in the city, especially since the Provident Hospital was the first and biggest black-owned hospital during the time period. Furthermore, I also hope to better understand how the community surrounding the hospital interacted with other forms of community centers as well, such as the churches of Bronzeville, since many community centers overlap in various ways. Thinking more broadly of the project, I really appreciated the way our team used Neatline to display the work from our project. We used point-markers to mark and group important locations and had a time scale as well, so visitors to the project Neatline would be able to see the changes in community centers and contextual locations over time as well. This provided important value to the project as it allowed for visitors to gain a broader overview of Bronzeville as well as a more granular focus as well if they chose to dive deeper into specific points. My hope and goal is that the team will be able to continue working on and expanding this amazing project that we have started.
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