Project FA15c: Digitizing historical New York City maps

Project FA15c: Digitizing historical New York City maps

Researcher: Nathan Frey

Semester for work to be done: Fall 2015

Position type: GIS, georeferencing

Application deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Application URL:

Position description

My dissertation research focuses on Hurricane Sandy's impacts on several neighborhoods in the borough of Staten Island, New York City. One of my interests is the historical development decisions that led to physical vulnerability (exposure) to storm surge flooding hazard in coastal neighborhoods. Part of this analysis relies on digitization and georeferencing of historical maps that I have acquired. I have received funds from the department to get high resolution scans of these maps, but to really properly analyze the data, I would like to georeference building polygons to trace development extents in flood zones over time. This it the main deliverable of interest. The student could also help to research past flooding incidents in these areas and to determine whether or not the planning and zoning decisions that generated these developments were controversial at the time they were taken, if interested. 

The position would benefit any student wanting practical experience digitizing and georeferencing paper maps and similar non-georeferenced spatial data sources, and would be of particular benefit to students with interests in historical geography and/or environmental history.

Desired qualifications

B grade or better in Geography 363 should be sufficient to successfully complete this project. Geography 122, 423, and/or 427 would be helpful if the student is interested in getting involved in the interpretation side of things, but these are not necessary.


Candidates must be willing to contribute 40–120 total hours of work toward the project over the semester, resulting in 1–3 credit hours applied to the transcript. There is no monetary stipend attached to this assistantship, although the experiences gained in this work will be immediately valuable when applying for graduate school or full-time employment.


To apply

Prospective candidates should submit application to by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

A complete application must include:

1. All required fields of online form:

2. A one-page cover letter identifying the position for which you're applying and stating your interest in conducting research, your academic preparation, the skills you hope to gain from this experience, and contact information of two references.

  • Upload a PDF document named as follows: FirstinitialLastname_letterMMYY.pdf (e.g. jvender_letter1114.pdf)

3. A resume

  • Upload a PDF document named as follows: FirstinitialLastname_resumeMMYY.pdf (e.g. jvender_resume1114.pdf)