Place  /  Map

Here Grows New York City

An animation of the historical trends of New York's growth since its founding.

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1. The Animation

Here Grows New York visually animates the development of this city’s street grid and infrastructure systems from 1609 to the present day, using geo-referenced road network data, historic maps, and geological surveys. The resulting short film presents a series of “cartographic snapshots” of the built-up area at intervals of every 20-30 years in the city’s history. This process highlights the organic spurts of growth and movement that typify New York’s and most cities’ development through time. The result is an abstract representation of urbanism.

2. The Interactive Map

The results of this animation are transformed into this fully interactive map

3. Research Method

Several hundred maps in the digital archives of the Library of Congress and New York Public Library were analyzed to assemble this film. About 25 of these maps were then selected, downloaded, merged, stretched, and warped in a single document to align with each other. This provided a consistent scale and allowed easier comparison of differences between maps of different date. As the source files were all in different colors, scales, and designs, we created a single base map with unified graphics. “The redrawing not only facilitates the review and correction of errors in the old cartographies, less accurate, but also provides a graphic representation that is consistent throughout all the stages. This coherence allows the cartographies to be real in parallel and compare the transformations experienced by the city.”