in the Public Realm
cultureNOW grew out of meetings of the Cultural and Historic Resources Committee of the New York New Visions Design Coalition for the Rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Led by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the American Planning Association, NY Metro Chapter, the coalition was formed as a volunteer effort by professional design organizations in response to the tragis events of September 11th. Over 400 people participated in the endeavor. The goal was to provide a strategic set of recommendations for rebuilding our city.

Our committee was so moved by the possible imminent demise of the cultural organizations affected by September 11th, that we decided to produce a map illustrating the cultural and historical richness of the area that would bring people back downtown to look beyond Ground Zero. We were interested in producing a single document for planning that would enlarge the focus of rebuilding beyond the 16 acres of the World Trade Center Site and to see downtown as a true river-to-river community. The result is the downtownNOW map. First printed in January 2002, the map has been updated and reprinted five times creating 5 unique snapshots of Lower Manhattan showing how it has been transformed since 9/11. It has been widely used by everyone from city planners to schools to residents and tourists and has focussed attention on using culture as a glue for revitalizing communities. Over 500,000 free maps were given away at numerous sites. A version of the downtownNOW map, the downtownWaterfrontNOW map was produced for ; 150,000 of these maps were given away free.

In 2004, cultureNOW began working on its second mapping project, a public art map of Manhattan. The map is meant to celebrate the art that surrounds us that we see everyday. By defining public art as art paid for by a public agency or visible from a public space, we were able to locate over 1500 works of permanent art. The physical map, published in 2007, is supplemented by the over 10,000 searchable images online. In 2008 for openhousenewyork cultureNOW produced an event entitled 'Artists in Place' which featured Artists standing at their works and speaking about the visions that inspired their works. cultureNOW began recording the artists and others and developing a collection of podcasts which are online.

In 2005, cultureNOW turned its attention uptown to focus on Harlem which is another community in transition. HarlemNOW is the third major mapping project. This project grew out of a semester-long class project in physical planning at Pratt Institute. The physical map was published in 2009; the first copy was given to Governor Patterson on May 9, 2009 at a service event for AmeriCorps in Thomas Jefferson Park. To supplement the physical map, cultureNOW has put together a series of tours of the area. Walking tours were held on Sunday Aug 9th; self guided tours are posted online. cultureNOW has also partnered with the American Institute of Architects NY Chapter Planning and Urban Design Committee to host a symposium, Focus on Harlem: A Community in Transition. cultureNOW has begun recording a series of podcasts by community leaders, journalists, artists and architects who have lived or worked in Harlem that supplement the physical maps.