Switching Stations: Thoughts On My Project

After the Pecha Kucha presentations and the comments from guests and classmates, I find myself now in the process of narrowing down my timeline for the project in order to better manage the data I am collecting.  I am now intending to focus on two separate periods: 1) The decade of the 1910’s, that moment when switching stations and vertical office buildings began to proliferate; and 2) The 1980’s when the telecommunications system underwent drastic changes due to technological developments.


With regard to entities, I am adding a new one, which will be a specific technological device, maybe the transistor. I would like to follow its historical development as a way to see how the inside of the black boxes has developed. The addition of this device to my project will give me three entities altogether: 1) Switching stations with their locations, years of construction, and information about their facades and interiors; 2) Population living and working in the area of the switching stations; and 3) The technological device inside the switching station I will choose.


Because there are so many switching stations in New York City –more than 80- it was suggested that I select just a few to focus on, which leaves me now trying to figure out the criteria for selecting them. How many I will choose to include in my map is at this point undecided. Should I select only switching stations run by the biggest companies? Or should I use stations that have changed locations? (AT&T moving from downtown to Hell’s Kitchen).


Constructing user scenarios for my map should be interesting. First of all, I will have to imagine the type of person who will be intrigued by a map of NYC switching stations. That done, I expect visitors will be able to superimpose various map layers for comparison. For example, a user may be interested in looking at the changes on the map between the two time periods, or perhaps one would want to study switching station installations in relation to population movements.


One comment

  1. Hi, Maria. Since part of your argument is that the change in ownership in the 80s *effected* this second switching station “building boom,” it’s probably best to try to choose locations that allow you to address this ownership issue — maybe stations that changed hands, maybe a variety of stations that show the arrival of new corporate operators at different points in history, etc.

    And I agree: there are a variety of potential audiences for your project: telecom professionals, telecom historians, people interested in telecom policy, historians of technology, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *