cities as perceived by its photographers

This query aims at comparing and overlapping administrative boundaries of a city with the actual limits perceived by the people, and to find meaninglful insights on new landmarks.
The experiments have been carried with Michele Mauri and Alessandro Dalla Fina, and published on Corriere della Sera.

Flickr’s most pictured places in the world create new emotional maps: that’s why the New York Apple Store appears more important than Columbus Circle. You probably imagined that the Tour Eiffel is more pictured than the Big-Ben; but what about New York citizens and tourists that are portraying the Apple Store more than Columbus Circle? May be that was not taken for granted! Moreover, have you ever asked yourself what your city boundaries would be if they were extracted by those places that people love taking pictures of?
Our visualization grows out of the “mapping the World’s photos” research of the Cornell University. the images display, compare and analyze the first 5 of the 25 most depicted cities in the world in 2010.

We extracted several and different data from Flickr (the most popular Social Media dedicated to photography sharing) in the cities of New York, London, San Francisco, Paris and Los Angeles; which came up to be the most photographed ones.

For each of the cities we enlightened 4 different maps able to depict some kind of indicators of the city as perceived by its inhabitants. Particularly the visualization displays:
– the most portraied singular places;
– the actual boundaries of the “photographed city” (we selected those images that users tagged with the name of the city they were in), so we’ve been able to create a surreal comparison between actual and perceived city’s edges;
– touristic landmarks which we could compare among different cities;
– tagged keywords on geo-localized pictures (ranging from activities, public services, cultural offers to shopping and commercial issues).

Did you expect that the tags “architecture” and “art” are the the leading ones in European cities, while in American cities we could not even find them?
Don’t you think it’s curious that people tag as “Los Angeles” only half of the actual city area?
Moreover, what can we say about the fact that 3 on 5 cities are in the US?
Is it due to the technology spread? Or can we state that American cities can really fascinate photographers to a compulsive click?
We believe that further development of the current researches can work out any doubt!

About giorgia lupi

1981 I am an architect that never built any house (luckily). I work with information, designing, researching and drawing a lot. I am co-founder ad design director at Accurat ( I am a PhD student at Milan Politecnico (

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