Mapping as Process: Food Access in Nineteenth-Century New York

“Mapping as process differs from mapping as representation in that it is generative of new questions and answers, feeding back into a productive cycle of research and interpretation.”

Global Urban History

Gergely Baics, Barnard College, Columbia University

BaicsMapSeq1Geographic information system (GIS) has changed social science and humanities research through spatial analysis. It has reinvigorated the spatial turn, which has swept many fields in the past decades, improving their empirical foundations, methodological tools and analytical process. Historians, especially those working within the field of urban history, have looked to GIS to incorporate new resources and methods to raise new questions or revisit old ones. Further, given the considerable data demands of certain projects, GIS mapping has made historical research more accessible, collaborative and open-ended. Some of the most fruitful collaborations occur when the public is directly invited to help produce and make use of historical GIS data, as is the case with the New York Public Library’s several creative initiatives (Map Warper, Building Inspector, NYC Space/Time Directory), or when historians work together with geospatial analysts to produce…

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