Archives for the month of: September, 2010

I attempted to map all the parking lots [in orange] found on Rochester’s aerial image but soon came to realize its immense scope.  I think I covered all if not most of the parking areas inside the loop and some outside.  It is a bad sign when parking dominates so much of downtown.

As a point of reference, the image below includes the same diagram from above but layered over the aerial map with highlighted vegetated [green] spaces.  What would happen if a portion of the orange becomes green?  How could we use the abandoned subway line to enliven the sea of parking?


I’ve combined the 3 animations from my previous post, but they are a little hard to read as separate networks. Perhaps we want to read the three layers as one system?

1982 Diagram-RiverCanalRR from Jie Huang on Vimeo.

Rochester’s layers of infrastructural networks illustrate a complex history.  As I dissect the layers both in time and by system, I hope to reveal an underlying structure significant to Rochester’s current and future development.

1892 Diagram-Genesee River from Jie Huang on Vimeo.

1892 Diagram-Genesee River from Jie Huang on Vimeo.

1892 Diagram-Genesee River from Jie Huang on Vimeo.

These Grasshopper animations begin with tracing the 1892 paths of the river, canal and railroad.  Each system is then  divided into equal segments with a voronoi diagram attached to each division point.  As the number of divisions increase, the amount of system’s influence also became more clear.  The next step is to merge the 3 networks and study their interactivity.

My thesis research will, for a good first part, involve explorations in mapping methodology.  I recently came across the following publication where the current issue is on the topic of INFORMATION and various ways designers/artists have used visual means to communicate data.

How can I  use parametric technology to help visualize information and communicate my ideas?

In an effort to map exactly where the Rochester Subway was, I had to reference some older maps of the Erie Canal since its infrastructure was reused.

Here is a start of layering several transportation networks onto one map.  The Subway line is red [also where the Erie Canal was] and the black dashed portion represents the underground segment.  The solid black lines are current railroads and the gray dotted extensions are former lines.


Erie Canal maps found here:

Rochester has a rich history of transport networks that are literally layered on top of each other.  The following images illustrates snapshots of this evolution.
Erie Canal
Subway rail tracks over aquaduct [Broad Street]
Cars over the aquaduct [Broad Street]
In addition, there was also an extensive trolley system within the city before the introduction of the subway.
images from and

Earlier in the year, Eric Fischer gave us maps of Geotaggers’ World Atlas.  Now, he’s introduced a new series on race and ethnicity of cities across the globe.  The one below is of New York City.

_Red = White

_Blue = Black

_Green = Asian

_Orange = Hispanic

_Each dot is 25 people

_Data = Census 2000

To get a general sense of pattern in Rochester, I began by using the Google aerial below to generate some urban graining through Grasshopper [GH].

By using a bitmap image, GH assigns values to points based on black and white values.  From those points, a Voronoi diagram [red] is created to get the following [thin green curve = approximate subway line]:

With further GH mappings, a series of estimated influence points began to populate the subway line, creating an interesting pattern of impact:

In 1920, the Erie Canal became obsolete.  In 1921, the mayor of Rochester proposed an ordinance for the construction the subway system, which put the canal bed to use.  The proposed line extended 8.5 miles with 1.5 miles of it underground.  It ran in a northwest to southeast direction which also connected to various railways in the city.


Lipman, Andrew D. “The Rochester Subway: Experiment in Municipal Rapid Transit,” City Historian, Vol. 36, No. 2 (April 1974), pp. 1-24.

Rochester has it all: abandoned infrastructure [rochester subway], industrial history, and post-industrial deterioration.  It seems to be the perfect fit for my investigations.

And into the tunnel we go…

This clip is part of a Special Feature from “The End of the Line — Rochester’s Subway” DVD. Music by Philip C. Carli. © 2005 Animatus Studio, all rights reserved.