Author Archives: Gerard_J

Final Reflection

1. How do you view research differently?

Over the semester, I have learned a few new research methods. Coming from a liberal arts background, I was already exposed to library resources, especially online databases. Some new resources, especially NYC public resources, were new for me, and they were very illuminating. The research tools, especially GIS tools, were especially interesting; they have opened up a whole new way for me to interact with spatial data.
2.  How does a geographic viewpoint impact you after this course?
Well, I had never studied a “place” before, so it was a new experience doing so. I will always stop and think now about a location’s history wherever I go. I am tempted to look at some archival information in my home town of White Plains now.
3. Will you use primary sources in the future? Why?
Possibly. I am heading into medical research at the moment, and I guess case reports are a primary source. Medical photography could be considered primary source as well, though I’m not sure the term applies outside of a historical context.
4.  How could teachers make research a more engaging process? What could be taught earlier?
I think a scavenger hunt experience, in the archives could be an interesting exercise, especially early on. I would like to have seen GIS tools earlier.  A multi-class Sketchup demo would be good too, as it is a very useful tool.

Final Report: Brooklyn Maps Overlay

To edit code, use visual studio 2010 or newer.  Original images are available inside an Adobe PS psd file.

This tool lets you overlay maps of Brooklyn, and vary the transparency.

GitHub repo for the project!

Download Project Executable!  (Windows)


Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1878). Colton’s New York City : Brooklyn, Jersey City, Hoboken, etc. Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (19–?). Map showing proposed extension of Flatbush Avenue to Brooklyn Bridge. Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1919). Brooklyn – Liberty Loan Committee – division of districts. Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1906). Brooklyn and vicinity. Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1907). Map of the Borough of Brooklyn, City oh New York. Showing street pavements other than cobble stone on January first, 1907. Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. Brooklyn land use policy Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1898). Guide map of Brooklyn, Kings County, N.Y. ….for Brooklyn daily eagle almanac. Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1776-10-19). A plan of New York Island, with part of Long Island, Staten Island & east New Jersey : with a particular description of the engagement on the woody heights of Long Island, between Flatbush and Brooklyn, on the 27th of August 1776 between His Majesty’s forces commanded by General Howe and the Americans under Major General Putnam, shewing also the landing of the British Army on New-York Island, and the taking of the city of New-York &c. on the 15th of September following, with the subsequent disposition of both the armies Retrieved from

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. (1767). Plan of the town of Brooklyn and part of Long Island. Retrieved from


Reflection: “Students can’t access essential research”

The main obstacle to access is the subscription fee journals require. They are very expensive, even for libraries, and their price only increases.  This makes the feasibility of purchase for individual students (most of whom have incurred prior debt) impossible, and for libraries, very hard. This has to do with hard financial times for students and institutions.

Summaries of important work could be paraphrased on Wikipedia, allowing students to get the gist of the research, without access to the source material. This requires those with access to reference that which they have read onto Wikipedia on a regular basis.

Reflection: Mid-semester

At the mid semester, I felt I had learned a lot about both the Vinegar Hill area, a topic of which I knew nothing about, as well as some techniques into gathering research data (and presenting it as well).  The concept of visiting archives was foreign to me as well.  Actually going to an archive (like the Brooklyn Collection at the BPL) was an illuminating experience, which will definitely prepare me if I need to visit one again.

Of particular interest were the NYPL maps collection, and the general introduction to GIS.  The NYPLs online collection was an amazing tool to use; the access to the maps I needed was seamless, and there were a lot of maps to choose from.  On the GIS side, CartoDB was a useful tool for me, due to my novice level at GIS mapping.  However, my background knowledge in data science and SQL made it a tool I could learn easily, if I ever needed to apply GIS.

Refelction: GIS Tool, CartoDB

CartoDB is an online tool that streamlines the creation of GIS based visualizations. It’s easy to use GUI allows users to rapidly upload datasets containing geographic information, and to plot the data onto maps.  Built on industry proven open source software, like PostGIS, PostgreSQL, and JavaScript, CartoDB allows users to write powerful code (if desired), and to produce reliable and content-rich visualizations.

CartoDB offers many of its services for free, however access to their API, and some more advanced features requires a subscription and payments.


An image of a map  created using CartoDB shown below:

Parking Pay Boxes in Chicago - map screenshot (12425234683).png
By Steven Vance from Chicago, United States – Parking Pay Boxes in Chicago – map screenshot, CC BY 2.0,

Reflection/Summary: “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?”

Rothman makes an interesting juxtaposition about academic writing. He states that academic writing is supposed to be “dry but also clever; faceless but also persuasive; clear but also completist,” but yet it is “actually among the most personal writing there is.”  He attributes this paradox to the “very small audience of hyper-knowledgeable, mutually acquainted specialists” that academic writing targets.

Rothman goes further to attribute the marginalization of academic writing to the “tightly-packed, super-competitive jungle” authors face when publishing.  This is due to the shrinking interest in topics which would have, at one time, had an audience of like-minded academics.


Rothman, Joshua. “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” The New Yorker. Advance Publications, 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 May 2016. <>.

Finding Aid Analysis: Robert Moses Papers

How are the papers organized?

16 “Series”

â—¦Series 1. Personal and “Library” Correspondence

â—¦Series 2. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority

â—¦Series 3. Emergency Public Works Commission

â—¦Series 4. Office of the City Construction Coordinator

â—¦Series 5. New York Gubernatorial Campaign

â—¦Series 6. New York City Department of Parks

â—¦Series 7. New York State Constitutional Convention

â—¦Series 8. Long Island State Park commission

â—¦Series 9. New York State Council of Parks

â—¦Series 10. New York State Power Authority

â—¦Series 11. Committee on Slum Clearance

â—¦Series 12. New York World’s Fair, 1964-1965, Inc

â—¦Series 13. Housing

â—¦Series 14. Speeches

â—¦Series 15. Printed Matter

â—¦Series 16. Photographs


What kinds of materials are included?

The collection consists of speeches , correspondence, memoranda, reports, press releases, plans, clippings, photographs, and other printed matter. These all document the career of Robert Moses

How could you access these resources?

One must give advanced notice to the archive, and go to:

Manuscripts and Archives Division

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018-2788

Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room, Third Floor, Room 328

RECAP: The power of family lore: uncovering Brooklyn’s “Auld Irishtown”

Relevance: This article will help me write my reflection about Brooklyn’s history.

Expertise: Eamon Loingsigh, a writer, sired by Irish immigrants. There is a little biopic about Eamon Loingsigh on the webpage.  He has released three books on historical subjects, so my trust in him is high.

Currency: Article published on April 8, 2013 – 3:49pm. Concerns historical information, so publication date is not so relevant.

Accuracy: Eamon references several primary and secondary sources, in text, in a way that one could easily find the original sources.

Purpose: Eamon is researching his heritage. He was interested in the White Hand Gang, so the information about Brooklyn is highly relevant in his own research.  There is no bias, but Eamon definitely wants exposure for his upcoming book.