Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Dot Map of 19th Century New York

Mapping Historical New York is a fascinating new interactive map which draws on historical census data to visualize the transformation of New York City during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries The map is a joint project developed by Columbia University’s Department of History and the Center for Spatial Research at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation. 

With Mapping Historical New York you can explore demographic data from the 1850, 1880, and 1910 censuses. Each person counted in these censuses has been mapped to their home address and the map allows you to explore the residential geographies of all New Yorkers and Brooklynites during these years by their race, gender, place of birth, and occupation.

Mapping Historical New York includes a number of case studies which help to show the user how this demographic data can be visualized to explore different aspects of New York's history. For example the 'German Enclaves' case study uses the birthplace data from the 1850, 1880, and 1910 censuses to show where German speaking immigrants lived in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century New York. This included Kleindeutschland in the Lower East Side. In fact the census data shows that in 1880, "migrants from German-speaking lands in New York City comprised approximately one quarter of the city's total population". 

Mapping Historical New York includes a number of vintage map overlays

The 'Working Waterfronts' case study uses occupational data from the censuses to visualize the huge numbers of New Yorkers working in New York's ports during this period. Neighborhoods adjacent to New York's ports housed large numbers of men working as longshoremen, stevedores and cartmen. In fact this shipping economy created a gendered landscape along New York's coast, with many of the boarding houses in port neighborhoods populated almost exclusively by men.    

Mapping Historical New York also allows you to view and explore this historical demographic data on top of vintage maps of New York. If you select the 'Historical Maps' button you can choose to overlay individual vintage maps of the city dating from 1852-1916.

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