Urbanization of Manhattan's Upper West Side

Introduction

Located on the west side of New York City’s Central Park between 59th and 125th streets is a neighborhood often coveted for its charm, regarded for its premier cultural arts center, and visited for its historic landmarks. The signature pre-war architecture of the Upper West Side’s ornate brownstones and stately apartment buildings has, for the most part, withstood ever-changing residents and landscapes, and it retains its curb appeal. But do the neighborhood’s residents and visitors know the history behind its brick and mortar beauty?

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My digitization project will make the tangible history of the Upper West Side’s urbanization available online for its visitors and residents alike. Comprising collections from the New York Historical Society, New York Public Library, Museum of the City of New York, and Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Web site will feature digitized period street maps which will be interactive and will invite virtual neighborhood touring. Hopefully a deeper understanding of familiar buildings’ pasts will come from users’ easy access to related photographs, residents’ diary entries, sketches, posters, and company catalogs.

Due to the thematic nature of the project, the site will continue to grow as relevant collections are discovered and digitized. First to be posted to the site will be scanned neighborhood maps from the New York Historical Society's archives along with a select group of images from the digital Byron Company Collection of the Museum of the City of New York. Using already digitized pieces from MCNY's Byron Company Collection will allow for a quick and impressive online presence. Documents from the New York Historical Society's collections will be added to the site as they are digitized. Each digitized document will include details on its physical repository location, a link to its respective collection’s finding aid, and a citation suggestion.

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