The city formally unveiled a new website Tuesday dubbed CultureBlocks, which allows users to create layered maps displaying neighborhoods, cultural and arts organizations, development and transportation corridors, homes of artists, organizations that operate cultural programs, and economic and educational data - a massive amount of information.
And all of it can be manipulated in a variety of ways, officials said, making it useful to large numbers of individuals and organizations in the cultural, research, and economic development arenas.
At a City Hall news conference, Mayor Nutter said CultureBlocks and its mapping tools were "about economic development" and "revitalizing neighborhoods."
The tool would, he said, enable investors, businesses, artists, and researchers to make "more informed decisions."
The website, available at http://www.cultureblocks.com, was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and ArtPlace, and created by various city departments; the Reinvestment Fund, a private nonprofit community investment organization; and the Social Impact of the Arts Project, a research group at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy and Practice.
Moira Baylson, deputy city cultural officer and director of CultureBlocks, said the mapping tools, now available, would be useful to anyone "interested in the intersection between place and creativity."
Funders looking for the best place to put scarce dollars and arts organizations seeking to locate or relocate in the city will benefit from the tool.
A gallery in New York, Baylson suggested by way of example, might want to open a gallery in Philadelphia. Using tools on CultureBlocks, it could find areas that meet various criteria - a neighborhood home to many artists, a high income per capita, lots of galleries, or mass transit access.
Punch these into CultureBlocks and one of the areas that pops up is Old City. That may be obvious to Philadelphia residents, but not to out-of-towners.
Similar kinds of criteria can be used by those wishing to establish, say, after-school programs. Punch in income levels, arts-organization locations, transit routes, availability of neighborhood-based programs, and it quickly becomes clear what a neighborhood has or doesn't.
Gary Steuer, the city's cultural officer, said CultureBlocks "is unique in the country - there is nothing like this anywhere else."