This morning, listening to KQED, I heard about a great project in San Francisco: individuals areing identify and placing the pieces of the Sanborn Maps, actually an Atlas to contemporary maps of the city. The Sanborn Maps are maps created by an insurance company and survived the fire after the 1906 earthquake. They are often a good resource for homeowners and prospective buyers of some of San Francisco's older homes. I had clients who owned a 2 unit building and with the help of these maps were able to prove to the city that their building has always been a 2 unit building, so they bypassed the lottery when converting to condos.
The project has individuals taking pages of the atlas and locating them geographically in the city. The first map I chose to look at has several identifying characteristics, but has street names that no longer exist. This reminds me of a project we did when I was in college at Tufts. We were given a fragment of a 1948 map. Our assignment was to map the current neighborhood and study what had changed from the original map and how the old neighborhood and its characteristics influenced the new one. I haven't thought about that project in years. I learned a tremendous amount about Boston, how to do research, how to conduct an interview and had great fun.
Want to get involved? The project still needs help.