In class this week we learned about digital maps and space. This was big for me for two reasons: 1. My final project is literally going to be a map and 2. History is more than just dates, trends and occurrences. Changing space and spacial relations (that is, the time it takes to get from Point A to Point B, the actual milage, et cetera) are just as important. This can show how changing technologies, landscape and communication affect how the human population thinks and/or alters space. According to Richard White, maps and texts are not sufficient in explaining the narratives behind space. He then describes technologies that work with in order to better tell this narrative.
In class, we worked with an example of this technology, creating a digital image by overlaying two maps (White did something similar). Here is mine. I found a map of the plan of Washington, D.C. in 1793 then combined it with a current map of the city. Because I focused on such a small area, it is difficult to see just how spacial relations have changed. However, one can see how the city has changed, which itself exposes a narrative. While it appears that the area has not changed all that much, one big thing that did jump out to me is the rivers and how they and the shoreline have changed. For example, notice the “Eastern Branch” (on the older map)/the Anacostia River (newer map.) On the old one, the river looks significantly smaller than the modern day Anacostia. This could be for a number of reasons, such as erosion. However, from personal experience, I know that that is a fairly well populated and active area. The Washington Navy Yard is present on this river. Perhaps human activity is to blame to the change. Also notice “Ronald Reagan National Airport” on the southern portion of the Potomac River. This airport was built (according to flyreagan.com) to replace the inadequate airport in Washington, D.C. in the 1930s. Note how, in the old map, instead of land being present in the area, it was water. According to flyreagan.com, the airport was built on mudflats in the Potomac and dirt and sand had to be brought in. This is a perfect example of the landscape being altered by a narrative. Washington, D.C. needed a better airport and, considering space was very limited, it was decided that new land would be created in the river (flyreagan,com). This story would not have been told with just one map. However, by combining the planning map and the current map, we were able to see just how humans have changed both the rivers and D.C. as a whole.
Menken, Alan. “Santa Fe.” Newsies, 2012, Genius, genius.com