Featured Artist

Justin Blinder: The Vacated Project

Justin Blinder is a computer programmer, artist and designer.  He has been using data from the NYC Department of City Planning and images used from Google Street View to depict the changing landscapes of urban sprawl in New York City.

While researching ways in which the city had changed for a collaborative art project called Envision 2017, he began to see dramatic changes using Google Street View.  Under the Bloomberg administration, city data opened, so he pulled up the city’s newly released PLUTO dataset of property parcels.  He then began by searching for developments that were only a few years old and then looking for their addresses in Street View.

Blinder then began to recast the images of Google Street View and creating an animated GIF set of example locations.

Blinder writes that his project “depicts some obvious examples of dramatic change, but in the end, it’s up to the viewer to decide whether this change represents widespread gentrification.”

To give some stark visual examples of the project, he has created a number of animated GIF’s of example locations throughout New York City.  He also has a section of “animated maps’ on his website.

Blinder writes: “Vacated reverse engineers Google Street View to highlight the changing landscape of various neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. The project finds buildings constructed in the past four years using the NYC Department of City Planning’s PLUTO dataset, and it leverages Google Street View’s cache to visualize absent lots just before new buildings were constructed. For Envision 2017’s website, the ages of other buildings on these same blocks are also shown in each scene.”

In April 2014, four months after Vacated launched and received widespread media coverage, Google released a large portion of their historical image data through their Street View “Time Machine” tool. This historical imagery had previously remained unavailable (or hidden) to the public for over seven years.


Links and Resources

Justin Blinder Official Website – Vacated [project]
The Atlantic Cities
Envision New York 2017

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