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Blog Posts by Subject: Maps, Atlases, Cartography

Conflict/Resolution and Changing Geographic Realities in the Peace of the Map Division

Come to the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division to view three examples that demonstrate the role that maps play, years after their informational current-events function, in documenting histories of changing boundaries.Read More ›

Absolute Sale! NYC Land Auction Catalogs in the Map Division

Nearly one hundred land auctioneering pamphlets from the 1860s to 1920s and covering the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn were digitized this past year. With their richly designed covers, these promotional brochures provide modern day researchers with a window onto neighborhood development and changing patterns of land use in the city. Read More ›

NYPL Labs and Map Division host first library Net Artist Residency

NYPL Labs is pleased to announce the Library's first-ever Net Artist Residency, in partnership with local hardware startup Electric Objects.Read More ›

Peeling Off The Painted Layers of NYC Walls: Experiments With The Google Street View Archive

As a web developer who works on a screen and an illustrator that works on paper, I have always admired those who could paint big—often on impossibly large and inconveniently placed walls—only to be erased in a matter of weeks or days. The ephemeral nature of street art is what makes it simultaneously appealing and frustrating as a viewer. However, Google Maps recently rolled out a feature allowing users to go back in 

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Historical Maps in Minecraft

At a recent internal hacking event here, NYPL Labs developer Paul Beaudoin recruited me into an interesting project: transforming one of the library's 20,000 digitized historical maps into the three-dimensional world of the building game Minecraft.

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The Battle of Antietam in Maps: An Interview with Researcher Jamesina Thatcher

Reconnecting the veterans' testimonies with physical structures and topography of the battlefield, Thatcher improved the understanding of troop movements during this important Civil War clash. Recently, I spoke with Thatcher about her project and the use of archival resources, including the Ezra A. Carman papers here in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.Read More ›

A Library Branch in the Woods

A walk in the woods, a guy with a rake... history uncovered.Read More ›

Open Access Maps at NYPL

The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division is very proud to announce the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions.*Read More ›

NYPL Labs Building Inspector: No Sleep Til Brooklyn, API, and Open Source Edition

A few weeks ago, we launched Building Inspector, NYPL Labs' latest tool for opening up historical maps of New York City. In that time, you (and lots of other Inspectors) have helped unlock an era of Manhattan's past, generating a building-level snapshot of the city 150 years ago that modern mapping tools can make use of.

Hooray! You did it! We did it (we're really hooked too). To celebrate the completion of the 1857 Manhattan Atlas, we've got some exciting news:

    We're 
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Classroom Connections: 'Grace Aguilar's American Journey,' A Common Core-aligned Research Experience (Gr. 11-12)

By 1900, New York City and the United States were undergoing waves of dramatic, traumatic change. Industrialization, Reconstruction and a surge of immigrants from across the globe were remaking every aspect of life, from transportation to education, leisure, labor, race relations and the status of women. One response to the dislocations and turmoil of this era was the reform efforts that we now classify as the “Progressive Movement.”

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We Are Asking For Your Help With Technology Challenges at NYPL

Over a century ago, The New York Public Library was founded with a basic purpose: to provide free access to information, literature, and cultural resources for the enjoyment and enrichment of all New Yorkers.

In the late 19th century, this meant accumulating vast collections spanning all subjects and languages, erecting beautiful buildings to store these books, and hiring brilliant, dedicated librarians to serve them to the public. But what would it look like if we founded The New York Public Library today?

Look around you and you’ll notice that 

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Meet the Curator: Yulia Tikhonova

Something MAPnificent is happening at Mulberry Street Library through August 27, 2012. MAPnificent features paintings, works on paper and sculpture that reflect the artists' concerns for the current state of our society, conveyed though charts and diagrams, and their admiration of the map as a symbol of longing and the unknown. Includes works by Elaine Angelopoulos, Joseph Burwell, Marie Christine Katz, Paul Fabozzi, Peter J. Hoffmeister, Alastair Nobel, and Amy Pryor.

The mastermind 

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The New York City Historical GIS Project

In 2010, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded The New York Public Library's Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division a three-year grant for its New York City Historical Geographic Information Systems project, which builds digital cartographic resources from NYPL's historical paper map and atlas 

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Unbinding the Atlas: Working with Digital Maps

NYPL has now scanned nearly all of its public domain New York City atlases (a collection of now more than 10,000 maps, the wonderfully graphical title page at left is from a recently scanned Sanborn atlas of Staten Island) and built a web tool (

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Start Traveling with the Help From NYPL’s Periodical Collections!

Sick of NYC’s cold weather?  Got the traveling bug in you?  Why not stop by the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to check out our latest travel magazines for the newest tips, trips, and activities abroad?  With over 100 international, regional and local traveling magazines, the DeWitt Wallace Periodicals Division can help you plan your next destinations! 

We have magazines from

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Elements of Cartography

The title of this post comes from an important textbook that every formally trained student of cartography will recognize. Arthur Robinson (1915-2004), a towering figure in the world of cartography and geography, first published Elements of Cartography in 1953. Now in it sixth edition, Elements remains an essential teaching tool in both cartographic literacy and the basics of mapmaking.

In Elements, the reader is reminded that every 

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Survey and the City: An Imaginary Conversation With E.L. Viele

Egbert Ludovicus Viele (Vee-lee) was born June 17, 1825 in Waterford, New York. He was a member of Congress, U.S. Civil War Union Army officer and was commissioner of New York City parks from 1883 to 1884. The West Point graduate surveyed the island of Manhattan and was appointed engineer-in-chief of Central Park in 1856, and engineer of

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Handmade Crafternoon: Make Your Own Map Day

On Saturday, October 23rd, please join us for an afternoon of free DIY cartography at the Library.  Special guests Matt Knutzen (the Library's own geospatial librarian) and map artist Connie Brown of Redstone Studios will teach us a bit about cartography, and then we'll all put that knowledge to use in making our own personal maps.  We'll have basic supplies for this hands-on project to share, but if you have your own compass and ruler you are welcome to bring them 

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Designing the City of New York: The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811

New York City’s wealth of good design is well known. Its streets are home to a plethora of artisans, graphic designers, fashion designers, architects, etc. who spend their days focused on creating objects, spaces, or experiences that are new, innovative and unique. These designers are often given a blank canvas of raw material—“what is”—onto which they must describe a vision—“what can be.”

Now imagine an urban designer given the monumental task of designing a plan for the orderly growth of a young metropolis. Home to 

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You are here: 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in 1857

I am at the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. According to plate 78 of my map atlas—Williams Perris’s 1857 “Maps of the City of New York”—the massive (2) block long stone structure at the southwest corner of this Manhattan intersection is not the ... Read More ›
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