The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLVIII-4/W7-2023
22 Jun 2023
 | 22 Jun 2023


M. Page, Y. Kang, S. Varner, K. Lee, A. Cors, A. Basu, K. Durante, and I. Burr

Keywords: Historical GIS, Historical Geocoders, Web Map Interfaces, Content Management Systems, Online Exhibitions, Atlanta

Abstract. Through a (re)mapping and spatial modeling of a city’s past, exploratory web applications can be built to examine urban histories and dynamically engage scholars and the public. Working on Emory University’s OpenWorld Atlanta project (OWA), researchers used geospatial technologies and methods to extract data from archives and other sources to build historical data models, geodatabases, and geocoders that enabled the development of web-based dynamic map interfaces. With a focus on the early stages of urban development of the city of Atlanta in the southeastern United States, this platform provides exploratory visualizations of city history along with a wealth of detail for specific time periods, specifically circa 1878 and 1928, given the opportunity provides by key map publications of the city. These dynamically enabled historical maps were then connected to digital images, geospatial vector data, descriptive text, and labels and then structured in a content management system.

While this project began as a digitization project centered on two atlases in the Rose Library collection at Emory University, it has grown to include contributors from several partner institutions. Therefore, this paper outlines the OWA project within a larger consortium of institutions and researchers focusing on production methods, platform development, interface design, and evaluation using open-data and open-source methods and software in cities' historical mapping and modeling. Drawing upon historical maps, city directories, archival collections, newspapers, and census data, projects like OWA allow researchers to analyze spatially grounded questions. In addition, they may serve the public as a valuable informational resource to learn about their neighborhood’s past and even contribute materials from family archives or stories.