Thursday, June 09, 2022

Scratch & Sniff New York

Under the grey, decrepit streets of New York there is a shiny, modern 21st Century city just waiting to emerge. At least there is on Chris Whong's Urban Scatchoff interactive map. 

Urban Scratchoff uses aerial imagery of early 20th Century New York, captured by a plane in a 1924 flyover of the city. Underneath this 20th Century aerial imagery is another layer which contains more recent aerial imagery of New York, captured by plane in 2018. You can reveal the modern imagery by simply clicking and dragging on the map to "scratch off" the historical imagery and reveal the present-day imagery beneath. You can also switch the layer order of the two sets of aerial imagery. Place the modern aerial map of New York on top and you can then scratch the map to reveal the historical imagery below.

Urban Scratchoff isn't Chris Whong's only interactive map exploring the history of New York. Last year Chris also mapped out a collection of vintage photos from the New York Historical Society to create a virtual Stroll Down Flatbush Avenue circa 1914

The society's Subway Construction Photograph Collection, 1900-1950 includes a continuous series of photographs taken on Flatbush Avenue, from Grand Army Plaza to the present-day Barclays Center. Chris has geolocated and mapped every photo in this series to create an historical Street View tour of 1914 Flatbush Avenue.

It is not often that you get a chance to travel back in time over 100 years. I had a lot of fun walking down Flatbush Avenue on Chris's map just noting the many sights that you can now no longer see in New York. These sights include barber poles, cigar store Indians, trolley stations, hat cleaners and horse-drawn delivery carriages. 

Being a bit of nerd I also took a virtual walk along the same section of Flatbush Avenue using Google Street View. The 21st Century walk is a lot more unpleasant than the early 20th Century walk. Nowadays there are four lanes of busy car traffic (with an additional two lanes of street parking), 90% of the stores seem to sell fast food and worst of all there are far fewer hats than there used to be and not one hat cleaner!

No comments: