I have spent some time over the past week creating my records and mapping the buildings I want to show on the map.  I’ve almost mapped all the buildings.  Overall, I’ve plotted most of the “stories” I mentioned in my previous blog post, with really the exception of the last thread (20th Century Media Skyscrapers).  When I first began mapping my project last week, I was a bit nervous that I didn’t have everything planned, written, and mapped out in my mind beforehand.  I decided to “go for it,” and boy am I glad I did.

I find that working with the URT tool is very different than I expected or imagined it to be.  In class this semester, we discussed a lot of the things we want URT to do, as well as the things it can actually do.  But beyond that, there are also the limitations of the things I know how to do with a tool like this, with which I have little experience.  I believe that one of the biggest advantages for future students working with URT will be that they can start mapping their projects from the beginning as they collect data, which will help them navigate and sculpt their ideas visually from the start.  While I chose a topic that easily lends itself to being mapped, I still find myself trying to figure out and understand how to visualize my arguments, and there’s only 1 week of class left!

I’m trying to get to the point where I feel like I’ve shared and compiled my data into an argument (or series of arguments) that make(s) sense.  I don’t feel I’m quite there yet, but I’m hoping I will be over the next week.  As it turns out, I have a number of more “arguments” or “threads” than I expected, but I may delete a few depending on how I ultimately organize my thoughts in the end.

At the moment, I’ve been trying to plot points on the map as best as I can, and in doing so I’ve encountered two pretty big snags:

1) Sometimes when I map my buildings, I discovered on the URT map that they don’t line up the way they should according to the old photographs I include in my records.  This is particularly an issue in Park Row, where a few of the buildings no longer exist (Tribune and World buildings).  I realized that points I wanted to plot on the map according to the addresses I have from back in the 1890s weren’t matching today’s topography of lower Manhattan.  In the case of the Tribune and World buildings, I figured out why: both buildings were torn down in the mid-1900s to make room for a wider entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Hence, when I map those points on the Google-based URT map, it looks like the World and Tribune buildings are floating in the middle of a wide street leading to the bridge.  Hopefully, in the future, we’ll be able to incorporate different base maps onto URT so it will be easier to map points during different time periods.

2)  Sadly, I discovered the hard way that there is bad information out there in the world, both published in books and on the Internet.  For example, I found a lot of conflicting information about the New York Herald and its locations downtown, and one of the main reasons why, I discovered, is because many scholars and writers confuse  the Herald with the Tribune. This is understandable because the Tribune bought the Herald in 1924 to become the International Herald Tribune.  However, in the 19th century, these were two very different entities with very different buildings.  After digging around, I discovered that the Herald also occupied a building at the southern tip of Park Row from 1865-1894, after which it moved to Herald Square.  The Tribune stayed down in Park Row until moving uptown a bit later to west 40th street. It took awhile to piece apart the story, but I think I finally uncovered the correct information.  It took me mapping both of these buildings over time to realize the discrepancies.

So that’s where I am so far.  I hope to finish plotting the rest of my media buildings, and then spend the rest of the next week crafting and presenting my arguments through URT.