For Jer Thorp, numbers don't lie when it comes to telling the ongoing story and history of St. Louis.
“63124 over there, the average income is $182,143 and we can compare that to the neighborhood we're in right now. where the average income is about $12,487,” Thorp said.
Thirty maps tell the stories of St. Louis city and county neighborhoods and wards.
Made on canvas by everyone from middle school students and museum researchers, to civic-minded citizens and hospital workers, the Center for Creative Arts and Thorp are combining community art and data.
The project emerged out of an innovation grant COCA had explored.
“You come to understand St. Louis especially through data. You understand maps and divisions and boundary lines that have been drawn that have created our condition today,” said Kelly Pollock, COCA executive director.
Since March 3, the St. Louis Map Room has taken over the gymnasium inside the empty Stevens Elementary School. On Tuesday morning, after a breakfast celebrating the completion of the Map Room Project, all 30 maps were photographed to become part of the Missouri History Museum's permanent collection.
The maps might be coming down and maybe too, the lines of inequality throughout the St. Louis region.
“Visualizing maps in these sorts of ways takes you out of the bubble that sometimes you exist in and helps people understand that their experience is not someone else's experience," Thorp said.
“Having a real conversation around this stuff is hard to talk about because data makes it easier because there's something on the table that you can't really argue about."
Five more cities are set to take a page from St. Louis' book and replicate the map room: New Orleans, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Philadelphia, and Merida, Mexico.