A Reflection on NYPL’s Map Warper Tool

Authored by: Emily Griffin

This is a map from the atlas Rachel Lipkin and Emily Griffin added metadata to for the New York Public Library. The map shows New York City and parts of New Jersey.

This is a map from the atlas Rachel Lipkin and Emily Griffin added metadata to for the New York Public Library. The map shows New York City and parts of New Jersey.

The picture shown is a map of Essex, Union, and Hudson counties in New Jersey (and surrounding areas) from The New York Public Library’s Map collection[1]. The original map was created by Griffith Hopkins as part of an extensive atlas of New Jersey and the surrounding areas titled Combined atlas of the State of New Jersey and the County of Hudson: From Actual Survey, Official, and Private Plans. The original atlas was published in 1873. My initial research on Griffith M. Hopkins and G.M. Hopkins Company hasn’t yielded much. I suspect G.M. Hopkins was one of many individuals making maps during the 1800’s, and that I would have to undertake special research on cartography in order to find out any specific details about the creator and his motivations. However, the map as an object alone allows researchers to infer what technology was available, attitudes and ideologies employed by cartographers of the era, and changes in the shorelines and official county divisions of New York and New Jersey.

This digitization was taken from the Map Warper portal, which is maintained by library professionals working in The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. The portal allows users to browse through all the maps the map division has digitized (2,034 in total) and rectify maps. Rectification involves setting control points (identifying corresponding points on a NYPL map and Google maps), designating specific areas to “mask” the antique map over a real-time Google map, and viewing the collection’s map transposed over a present day representation of the area.

This specific map is related to all 2,034 maps digitized and available on Map Warper, as well as all maps held by The Lionel Pincus and Princess Friyal Map Division, simply because they’re all maps belonging to The New York Public Library. However, this map is directly related to three other digitized maps: Plan of Weehawken Township, Jersey City, and Jersey City Pier. These maps are digitizations from the same atlas but, due to the fact that the atlas has deteriorated to a serious extent, these are the only samples of G.M. Hopkins’ work available on Map Warper.

I volunteered at The New York Public Library to fulfill an academic service learning requirement attached to the class. My experience rectifying maps and meeting staff at NYPL was resoundingly positive. I learned a new, challenging skill easily and became aware of countless historical maps waiting to be browsed. However, I did feel frustrated when browsing through NYPL’s catalog trying to initially select an atlas to concentrate on and whenever I had to load a page that involved working with Google Maps. Therefore, our AS-L poster was concerned with the user’s experience using Map Warper, how it could be improved, and how Map Warper could be used as an educational tool.


[1] “Atlas of New Jersey : Counties of Essex, Union, and Hudson,” NYPL.org, last modified March 14 2014, http://maps.nypl.org/warper/maps/14954.

References

“Atlas of New Jersey : Counties of Essex, Union, and Hudson,” NYPL.org, last modified March 14 2014, http://maps.nypl.org/warper/maps/14954.

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