NYC Space/Time Directory

Let’s build the future of New York City’s past

with support from

The New York Public Library is creating a digital time-travel service for New York City with historical maps, collections rich in geospatial data, and the public’s help.

The NYC Space/Time Directory will make urban history accessible through a set of resources including: a searchable atlas of New York past, an historical location directory and geocoder, a set of APIs and data sets, and a discovery tool linking NYPL collections together in an historical and geographic context.

These explorations will provide a way for scholars, students, enthusiasts, and librarians to explore New York City across time periods and to add their own knowledge and expertise.

With the NYC Space/Time Directory we’re developing a programming model and freely accessible codebase for other cities, libraries, and individuals to map and explore history. Data sources are listed in our related resources section below and those interested in working with our open source projects can visit GitHub to get started!

Ready to travel through time and space? Explore our Space/Time resources below to start discovering and contributing to New York City history.

Major support for the NYC Space/Time Directory is provided by the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Table of Contents

  1. New & Featured
  2. Projects
  3. Data
  4. Meetups
  5. Tutorials
  6. Code
  7. Architecture
  8. Articles
  9. Tools & Experiments
  10. Related Resources

New & Featured

Projects

Contribute to the Space/Time Directory and explore library materials with these interactive tools built on historic maps, our vast photography collections, and more!

Data

The table below lists datasets available in the NYC Space/Time Directory. Each Dataset consists of a Data Package descriptor, and two Newline Delimited JSON (NDJSON) files: one with all the dataset’s Objects , the other one with its Relations.

Each Dataset is available in a few different file formats (e.g. ZIP, NDJSON, GeoJSON), see the File Types table below for details.

For more information on working with data from the NYC Space/Time Directory, see the Data & Tools repository on GitHub.

Dataset Data License
mapwarper C
Boundaries of thousands of maps from Map Warper, NYPL’s tool for rectifying historical maps
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
building-inspector C
Historical building footprints, addresses and building names from Building Inspector
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
perris-atlas-footprints
Building footprints from William Perris’ 1854 Maps of the City of New York, traced by NYPL librarians
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
nyc-wards
Boundaries of Manhattan’s administrative regions, from 1703 to 1895
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
nyc-streets
Historical streets, traced from New York City insurance atlases
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
enumeration-districts D
1900 census enumeration districts for Manhattan and the Bronx, traced from maps created by Barbara Hillman
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
addresses I
Historical New York City addresses, created by combining house numbers transcribed in Building Inspector addresses with data from the nyc-streets dataset — for more information, see bertspaan.nl/west-village
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
city-directories
People and their professions and addresses, extracted with OCR software from historical New York City Directories
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
emigrant-city C
Transcribed and geocoded 19th and early 20th century real estate records from the Emigrant Savings Bank
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
oldnyc
Contains the location of 39516 photos from Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection, taken from Dan Vanderkam’s OldNYC
ZIP GeoJSON CC BY-NC
View details
surveyor D C
Crowdsourced locations of NYPL’s photo collections
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details
nyc-churches
Churches in New York City, 1790 to 1856 — from Evangelical Gotham: Religion and the Making of New York City by Kyle Roberts
ZIP GeoJSON CC BY-NC
View details
spacetime-graph
Graph of all data from all datasets in the NYC Space/Time Directory, connected and grouped by their relations
ZIP GeoJSON CC0
View details

File types

NDJSON

Newline Delimited JSON: one JSON object per line. See GitHub for more information on using these files. A NYC Space/Time Directory Dataset can contain two NDJSON files: one with its Objects, and one with its Relations.

ZIP

Compressed archive of all files in the Dataset: a Data Package descriptor, Objects and Relations files, as well as derived GeoJSON and CSV files.

GeoJSON

This file contains all Objects in the Dataset that have geometries (either a point, line or polygon), converted to GeoJSON Features. Please note: the GeoJSON file does not contain Objects without geometries! For example, the GeoJSON file of the city-directories Dataset does not contain Objects that are not geocoded.

GeoJSON (simplified)

The simplified GeoJSON file contains the same data as the normal GeoJSON file, but the nested data property is flattened, and its fields converted to unnested properties. This makes using this file in QGIS and other tools a lot easier, but some structure may be lost. For details about this process, see GitHub.

CSV

The CSV file contains all Objects in the Dataset (with and without geometries), but the same flattening is applied as in the simplified GeoJSON file to convert the nested JSON structure of the Objects to tabular data.

Dataset types

Draft

Draft datasets are currently being worked on; they are not finished, and things like field names might change.

Crowdsourced

Crowdsourced datasets are not static, new objects are added as new crowdsourced submissions come in.

Inferred

Inferred datasets are created by combining data from multiple datasets. For more information about combining datasets, see our tutorial on historical addresses.

Meetups

Historical Data & Maps at NYPL is a series of public workshops and talks which will highlight different parts of New York City’s history using data and maps from the NYC Space/Time Directory. In this series, we will focus on making new maps with old data using open source mapping tools, and learning how to use the Library’s open data sets and APIs to tell stories about New York City’s history by finding and combining materials from the NYPL’s Digital Collections.

Past and upcoming events:

Title Date

Tutorials

The following tutorials demonstrate how you can use tools and datasets from the NYC Space/Time Directory:

Code

The table below lists open source repositories made for the NYC Space/Time Directory that might be useful in other projects, too. More repositories can be found on the project’s GitHub page.

Repository Description Technology
Simple JSON API for small crowdsourcing apps used in different NYC Space/Time Directory projects Node.js + PostgreSQL
Leaflet plugin for photo geotagging JavaScript + Leaflet
Extract/Transform/Load tool for NYC Space/Time Directory data Node.js
Command line tools for NYC Space/Time Directory data Node.js
Command-line tool for downloading images from Digital Collections Node.js
Maps by Decade shows New York City street maps, grouped by decade. JavaScript + React
Web interface for crowdsourced geotagging of historical photos JavaScript + React
Interactive architecture diagrams with SVG JavaScript
Detects columns and connects indented lines in hOCR files Node.js
Module to normalize New York City street and avenue names Node.js
Module to parse lines from OCR’d New York City directories into separate fields, such as names, occupations, and addresses. Python
Crowdsourced extraction and correction of building footprints and addresses from historical maps Ruby on Rails
Web interface for crowdsourced georectification of historical maps Ruby on Rails
Python tools which use computer vision to extract building outlines and other features from historical building atlases Python

Architecture

For in-depth information on all the parts, components and datasets that make up the NYC Space/Time Directory (and how they work together), see the project’s architecture page.

Articles

The following posts have been published about the NYC Space/Time Directory on NYPL’s blog:

Other websites and publications have also written stories about the project:

Tools & Experiments

Take a peek into the Space/Time Directory workshop! We’re sharing prototypes, proof of concepts, and visualizations the project as they’re made.

Related Resources

Browse related Library resources including digitized materials, data sets, APIs, and much more!