Episode #10

Using Digital Maps To Study Disaster Preparedness and History

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In September, when millions of iPhone users downloaded iOS 6 and found Google Maps replaced by Apple Maps, it became clear how reliant people have become on digital maps.

Suddenly, a large slice of the smartphone generation could not find a certain restaurant or a friend's apartment.

It's no surprise that digital maps now play a huge role in everyday tasks, but they also figure large in more serious pursuits like disaster cleanup and rebuilding.

This week on WNYC's New Tech City, host Manoush Zomorodi speaks with Steven Romalewski, director of the Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center, about mapping before and after Sandy.

Plus, a visit to the map room at the New York Public Library. Cartographers there are working with NYPL Labs to put old maps online and make them useable in the digital age thanks to a process known called "map warping."

Matt Knutzen/NYPL
A map that shows part of Lower Manhattan circa 1852 over a Google Map showing today's streets, like those leading to the Brooklyn Bridge, which was completed in 1883.
Matt Knutzen/NYPL
A map showing the buildings of the East Village circa 1852 superimposed on what is now Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
Matt Knutzen/NYPL
A "warped" map that shows Orchard Beach, which was completed in 1938, superimposed over Pelham Bay circa 1892. The beach was created by Robert Moses by filling in part of the bay with sand.
Matt Knutzen/NYPL
A map of the World Trade Center site, which also shows the buildings that were at that location in 1852.
Matt Knutzen/NYPL
A map that shows which blocks were destroyed in the Manhattan fires of 1835 and 1845.


Matt Knutzen and Steven Romalewski

Hosted by:

Manoush Zomorodi

Produced by:

Wayne Shulmister and Daniel P. Tucker


Charlie Herman

Interactive Digital Maps Show City's Changing Landscape

You still see lots of tourists unfolding and refolding paper maps on New York City streets, but most of us use applications on our smartphones to find the closest subway stop or Starbucks.

Comments [2]

Comments [3]


OOOOHHHH! So OTHER PEOPLE's maps, not one here on Ok, got it. Thanks for nothing!

Nov. 20 2012 12:36 PM
Andrew from Williamsburg

I saw a show on using small weather balloons with a point and shoot camera to update google maps or to make your own maps. I would imagine that this would have some use in assessing damage after Sandy.

Nov. 20 2012 08:06 AM
Tamara from NYC

There's a website called They Travel and Draw where artists create maps - it's not as high-tech as this, but it is very inspiring.

Nov. 20 2012 06:02 AM

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