Mapping the History of College Point: The Impact of Immigrants on a Neighborhood in Queens

Authored by Megan Smead

Image of Fire Insurance Map of College Point, Queens watermarked with New York Public Library logo

Map of College Point, Queens, NY from the Sanborn Map Company, Atlas 141, Queens V. 5, Plate No. 15, 1903, made available by the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division of the New York Public Library.2

The Sanborn Map Company created fire insurance maps beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, showing the location and construction of buildings and roads in major cities across the United States, which allowed insurance companies to assess fire risk.1 The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division of the New York Public Library has digitized many atlases and maps, including the Sanborn map in Figure 1, which represents College Point, Queens, NY in 1903. As part of an Academic Service-Learning experience through St. John’s University, I georectified this map, and others from the same atlas of Queens. The georectification process entails using the NYPL Map Warper tool to match coordinates from the historical map to a current map in order to align the two maps. Georectification of historical maps allows genealogists, historians, architects, urban planners and members of the public to observe geographic and demographic changes over time, and to make connections to the past. Volunteering my time and skills in service to the public by georectifiying maps allows me to strive towards fulfilling the Vincentian mission of service that is essential to St. John’s University. Continue reading

Mapping 19th Century London: A Place of Extreme Inequality

Authored by Christina Boyle

A map of London from 1815.

A map of 1815 London, England, published by “G. Jones.” The map is part of the digital collections of The New York Public Library.

This map of London, published in 1815, represents the large, bustling capital of England. Today, London is the metropolitan cultural center of Britain,1 but in the early 19th century, it was a city of the poor working class.2 During this time, renowned authors such as Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte Bronte were writing, setting their works in the London depicted in this map. The London that they knew was far different from that of today. This map depicts a city rich in history, with still-relevant main streets, docks, and landmarks that currently remain. It also captures the London that has been portrayed by these and other Napoleonic and Victorian writers: a smoggy and sooty city rife with poverty and distress. Continue reading