Come to the Globe Gallery and walk through 20 square miles of Phil Rowland's hand-drawn Cincinnati

An immersive, interactive 360-degree map
Come to the Globe Gallery and walk through 20 square miles of Phil Rowland's hand-drawn Cincinnati
Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 11:00:31-04

CINCINNATI -- You pass through Covington as you step over the threshold at 1805 Elm St., and the next step puts you right on the riverfront.

A few more steps and you're nearly in the center of Downtown. Step to the left and reach out and touch the Incline Public House. A few more steps up and over to the right, and you can brush your fingertips across Five Points Alley.

You Are Here.

This immersive, interactive 360-degree map is the creation of graphic designer Phil Rowland, the latest People's Liberty grantee to fill the Elm Street space. Previous projects have included Nina Wells' "King Me" exhibit, which celebrated the value and potential of men of color, and Julia Fischer's Play Library, which allowed families to check out toys and games and has moved to a permanent location a few blocks away.

The original drawings for the You Are Here project took Phil Rowland 300 hours to complete.

Beginning Friday, people can come to the Globe Gallery and see Rowland's hand-drawn version of Cincinnati. The map covers 20 square miles -- Covington to Clifton, Price Hill to Walnut Hills. Landmarks like Music Hall and Union Terminal are depicted in detail, but so are side streets and trees, parks and overpasses.

The original drawings took Rowland 300 hours to complete. He woke up each day and drew for a couple of hours before heading to work at GBBN Architects, then came home to another four to six hours of drawing.

"I was just huddled over this thing -- I mean, you're talking about 30 hours per sheet and there're eight of them," Rowland said. "I've been dreaming of this thing in my head and, boom! It's here."

Beginning April 7, people can come to the Globe Gallery space and see Phil Rowland's hand-drawn version of Cincinnati. The map covers 20 square miles.

Transferring and inking the map on the walls of the Globe Gallery took eight 12-hour workdays for Rowland, with some weekend assistance from a couple dozen local artists.

"And Sharpies," Rowland said. "Twenty Sharpies, to be exact."

Fiona, Cincinnati Zoo's beloved baby hippo, is hanging out in a corner, and Mr. Redlegs is hiding in plain sight. But there's also a narwhal, the Loch Ness monster and Ohio State's "Horseshoe" stadium. (Rowland, 32, grew up and attended college in Columbus before moving to Cincinnati seven years ago.)

"This is my city," Rowland said. "There's stuff that's real and stuff that's not."

And it's all coated in dry-erase paint so you can show everyone your Cincinnati.

Color in your favorite Downtown landmark. Place an X on your first apartment. Draw a heart on the restaurant where you and your partner had your first date.

Don't see your neighborhood? Rowland couldn't fit in his own, Oakley, either. Find its name on the steps up to the second floor and draw or write something that tells people why it's great.

"To see people make their own mark on it would be really cool," Rowland said.

It'll also be helpful, Rowland hopes. He has planned a series of neighborhood events -- the first is with Walnut Hills -- that will allow communities to come to the gallery and get a bird's-eye view of their section of the city. The idea is that the map can be a tool communities can use to talk about events and issues as well as consider problems and solutions.

You Are Here opens at 6 p.m. April 7. Keep track of neighborhood nights and other events on Facebook.