The Incidental Beauty Of @everylotphilly
In 2015, a coder named Neil Freeman created a Twitter bot called the Every Lot Bot, and it was brilliantly simple: The bot would go through every property in a local principality’s tax record, then match all existing addresses with their corresponding Google Street View photographs. Then, at the desired interval, those images and addresses would posted to Twitter, one at a time, in a process that could (and will, in many cases) take decades, depending on the size of the city.
The resulting Every Lot feeds — currently in operation in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philly — are as urban-studies-wonky as they are accidentally serene and beautiful. Freeman is on to something when he cites the art of Edward Ruscha as partial inspiration for creating the Every Lot Bot, and Philly, where John Ricco has implemented @everylotphilly, reflects that placid artful tone as well. “I think it's interesting and beautiful in its own way,” he told us.
Ricco’s Philly version tweets out a streetview image every 20 minutes. “I did the math once -- it will take 21 years to cycle through the entire city,” he says. “It goes in order of property ID so it goes block by block, house by house. So over time you get to see how each block is different from the next, and eventually how each neighborhood is different.”
However predetermined its technical process and architecture, though, @everylotphilly feels like a very slow and highly attuned drive through every Philly neighborhood and every Philly street. To look at the feed sequentially offers a kind of trance, occasionally broken by your own familiarity with a certain address; earlier this week, the bot pulled up the image above. This, for instance, was the address of the old Studio Red where, in a tiny basement, indie rock history was made as bands like Helium, Versus and Lilys all made some of their most landmark recordings. As of this afternoon, the bot is still winding its way through South Philly; we suspect it’ll pull over for lunch sometime in the year 2037.