That softly glowing green blob up there is Louisville viewed in tweets. Data artist Eric Fischer, whose work we featured as part of our 2011 census roundup, has mapped some 6.3 billion tweets worldwide. The result shows more than where people are tweeting. It shows how people are using cities. Let’s take a look at some of Louisville’s Twitter hotspots to see what we can find out. (And be sure to follow Broken Sidewalk on Twitter so someday you’ll show up on a map just like this one.)
Take a look at this map of Downtown Louisville and Nulu. As you can see, the hot spots here are the KFC Yum! Center and 4th Street Live! To the east, a smattering of green indicates popular stops along East Market Street, the brightest of which appears to be Garage Bar. Slugger Field has a fair share of tweets as does the convention center and hospital district.
These locations make sense as they are places where people gather and are often held captive by events. What’s surprising, though, is that the entertainment development that Louisville loves to hate appears to be Louisville’s most popular venue, at least on Twitter.
Here we have another area known for its nightlife: Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road in the Highlands. The thin green line here flares up around the Baxter’s bars to the upper left and at Eastern Parkway toward the bottom right. This map reinforces what we already know: that this is a linear commercial corridor winding through Louisville’s inner-ring suburbs. The only major place the line spreads out is at the Mid City Mall.
Another tweeting epicenter occurs at the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus. Who wants to identify the specific buildings on campus where these tweets are coming from? What’s also interesting here is the evidence of new student housing, especially to the west along Seventh Street. A few years ago, that area would have been as dark as night. Elsewhere on this map, you can see bright specks where corner bars are located in surrounding neighborhoods.
A little farther out, Shelbyville Road offers another bright spot on the map. Plenty of dots abound in downtown St. Matthews, but the map is dominated by tweeting activity going on at Mall St. Matthews and Oxmoor Center.
Over here we have the Central Avenue corridor, which a surprisingly dull glow. On the left you can see Churchill Downs, which we expected would be bright green, and near the center if Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Another interesting observation here is the number of tweets sent from hotels of visitors next to the Fairgrounds on the right side of the map. If you’re visiting a strange city, may as well fire up Twitter.
That upside-down Y is the Louisville International Airport. Did we mention people like social media when they’re being held in captivity? Also note the sizeable number of tweets sent along the Watterson Expressway and Interstate 65. We hope those people aren’t tweeting and driving. You can more clearly see the trend of tweeting on the Interstates in the map below, where the Watterson is a bright line wending through the city. Just say no to distracted driving.
Finally, take a look below to see how Louisville’s Twitter aura shapes up in the region. The two bright spots at the top are Chicago and Detroit. Louisville appears roughly in the center of the image. What other observations and notes do you have from these Twitter maps? Share your thoughts in the comments below.