Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Ancestral Neighborhood

Starting in the 1860s, my great-grandfather Richard William Gines lived at 1540 Ashton St, Shreveport, Louisiana. Although I've been to Shreveport, I've never been to 1540 Ashton St. Thanks to Mapquest, however, I know that that residence is between Pierre Avenue and Allen Avenue, just a little bit north of I-20 in Shreveport. MapQuest also tells me its a 28 hour, 57 minute drive of 1,934 miles from the Bloggcast Center to 1540 Ashton St in Shreveport. And thanks to the wonder that's Google Earth, I can see a photograph of that section of Ashton Street. Number 1540 is one of three houses set apart in a relatively underdeveloped neighborhood.

But what I really want to know is what the neighborhood looked like in the late 19th century. That may soon be possible. Dick Eastman reports on a new service called Historic Map Works which describes itself as "the first GIS-linked, address-searchable maps of 19th and early 20th century America." The site currently is limited to just a handful of states, primarily on the East Coast but including Texas. But when built out one will be able to "search our collection of over 35,000 high quality, fine art reproductions of antique property maps using either place names or addresses."

In addition to having a rather limited collection, the functionality of the site when I tried it today was not very good, but the idea holds promise. I'll be interested to see how it turns out and I'll report the results in this space.

1 comment:

Jasia said...

I know just what you mean. I have a genuine curiosity about the neighborhood my grandparents lived in when they first immigrated to the US in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, there don't appear to be any maps for the Detroit area yet. I guess I'll just have to be patient. (sigh)