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Citizen Cartography Workshop: Tracing Old New York


December 11, 2012


 Map bounded by West 42nd Street, East 42nd Street, Fourth Avenue, East 37th Street, West 37th Street, Sixth Avenue, Digital ID 1268366, New York Public Library

Help NYPL build the geospatial library of the future! This workshop will get you oriented with the a set of tools the Library has developed called the NYPL Map Warper (available that enables librarians and the general public to add valuable geographic context to old maps. 

Many important buildings from New York’s landscape in the 19th and early 20th centuries are long gone, left only as traces on maps and collections throughout the NYPL. Using the drawing tool in, Citizen Cartographers will trace some of these important features from an early atlas such as Wm. Perris’ 1852 Maps of the City of New York. Only after we do this can we learn where to buy lumber or book a room or attend a play in 1852.

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to Map Division's collections and the Map Warper and will learn how to trace and transcribe information from historical maps. The processes learned in this class help us to create new resources to help researchers, students, geographers, urban planners, and the general public study early New York. 

Tracing information from maps is the second step (the first is “warping” maps, offered in other Citizen Cartography classes) These steps are part of a larger integration effort in which we can pull together archival records, newspapers, photography and other literary and historical documents that are associated with places on the map.

 There are literally thousands of maps to process — far too big a job for NYPL to do on its own. So we're enlisting you, our Citizen Cartographer corps, to help lay the foundations of a powerful new research tool that will benefit scholars, educators and history enthusiasts around New York and the world.

Once you learn to warp, you can do it anytime from the comfort of your home, and even teach others how to participate. If you can't make this workshop, keep an eye out for upcoming offerings, or simply watch the tutorial at and get started on your own!


More Info

  • Audience: Adults