Iowa City has been formally designated as a UNESCO City of Literature since 2008, but it has had deep literary ties since long before then. Just in time for Iowa City’s hosting duties for this year’s Annual Meeting of UNESCO Cities of Literature (which kicked off yesterday, April 3), the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, in collaboration with the University of Iowa, is launching LitCity, a new website that provides literary tours of Iowa City.
Through the site, you can take a tour of Iowa City organized by writer, by theme (such as bookstores, happenings or literary references) or by neighborhood. The tours employ maps with pinpointed locations, each of which opens up a page of information about the spot and its relevance. The pop-up windows offer a brief glimpse and link through to a full page of additional details.
The site is cross-referenced by places; choose any of the 45 locations highlighted to see which neighborhood it’s in and which tours and writers are associated with it.
There are currently 24 different writers featured on the LitCity site. In addition to providing self-guided tours, the site serves as a digital library and information hub. Visitors to the site can quickly and easily discover, for example, where Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. lived during his time in Iowa City (800 N Van Buren St), or where Jane Smiley spent most of her down time (The Mill).
According to a press release, the “local level phase” of the LitCity project is just the beginning. The development team hopes that their work will serve as a foundation that other literary cities can build on.
“For instance,” the release said, “Dublin, Ireland might install the Web-App system and customize it for their own cultural industry and — utilizing the research framework and toolkit developed in the initial phases at the University of Iowa — create their own site-specific map for the humanities-based points of interest of their specific community.”
Representatives from Dublin and other UNESCO Cities of Literature visiting for the annual meeting will be among the first to have the opportunity to utilize the site, as they explore Iowa City during their stay.