Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
“Parkadelphia” is pretty—and powerful.
Lauren Ancona’s dive into cartography started with what she calls her “weird obsession” with parking—specifically, the lack of information about parking regulations in Philadelphia. She explains in a Medium blog post:
I’d search once a year, at least, usually while apartment hunting. What are the parking rules on this street? Most often, I was looking for a map of residential parking permit zones. Google Trends said I wasn’t alone, but I couldn’t find so much as a jpeg. Nada.
That’s what spurred her to make her first map ever in 2014, which showed the residential parking permit zones in her city. From there, she went on to make a beautiful blueprint map of Philly, as well as a map showing blocked roads, transit closures, and other useful information during the pope’s visit last September. But all this time, she never really stopped working on the parking map that started it all.
Now, after 17 months of gathering public data and manually verifying bits and pieces of information, Ancona has finally released her new and improved ‘Parkadelphia’ map. This one doesn’t just show residential parking zones, but also metered spots for cars, motorcycles and scooters, city parking lots, locations where valet parking is offered, and the emergency routes in the city.
On the map below, you can select any or all of these layers of data from the sidebar on the left, and click on a street you’re curious about. The map will then pull up the parking rules:
The nifty tool also lets you check out any spot in the city you’re interested in. For example, here’s what the parking regs around 30th Street Station (the building with the little yellow dot in the center) look like:
And this is what parking on a street near City Hall looks like:
The map isn’t comprehensive. Ancona is still verifying parking rules for some of the streets. She’s also working on a new feature that would map the most “in-demand” parking spots, the ones users search most often, in real time. It would look a bit like this heat map below that she shared:
She hopes the new feature will help plan the future of the city, she told CityLab via email:
This information can help city planners and other constituencies have an informed conversation when making decisions that affect how Philadelphia chooses to encourage or discourage the use of automobiles in future development.