Monday, May 11, 2015

The 1855 Business Map of New York

The New York Public Library's Map Warper project uses the power of the 'crowd' to help digitize the library's wonderful collection of historical maps. The New York Library's Building Inspector is another 'citizen science' tool that allows anyone to help the library identify building footprints on the library's maps.

Recently the Building Inspector has added the option for volunteers to find and annotate the types of businesses labelled on its historical maps. This new option has already begun to pay dividends.

NYPL Labs' Mauricio Giraldo has created an interactive searchable map of the three thousand odd place names so far collected from the library's 1855 maps. The 1855 New York Business map shows the location of mid-19th Century New York businesses.

You can filter the types of business shown on the map using the drop-down menu. You can also use the search function to display specific types of business, for example 'brewery'. The map provides a fascinating insight into life in 19th Century New York, a world where there were far more churches than offices (I wonder if that's still true in 21st Century New York).

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