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Map at the Museum of the City of New York, gift of McKim, Mead & White

Maps are an important part of the Museum of the City of New York’s permanent exhibit about New York City’s 400 years of history, New York at Its Core – a must-visit for both New Yorkers and visitors. In the first two galleries, which cover the eras of “Port City: 1609 to 1898,” and “World City, 1898 to 2012,” the digital maps displayed across a triptych screen shows the increase in population and infrastructure systems for each of the time periods following three main topics that guide the exhibit: money, diversity, and density. “You get to see in a bird’s eye view kind of way the evolution of the city through three different lenses,” museum curator Sarah Henry says.

Then, within smaller screens in “World City, 1898 to 2012,” additional maps are shown on specific sub-topics, such as manufacturing in New York City, which allow the visitor to interactively engage with the map. Finally, in the Future City Lab, a large curved central display rotates through maps to your hearts desire,

The digital displays in New York at Its Core are designed and programmed by the studio Local Projects. But there are also more maps to see in other exhibits at the Museum of the City of New York, particularly in the exhibit “Mastering the Metropolis: New York and Zoning” which closes this Sunday.

Here are 5 maps we’ve highlighted to look out for in the museum (but in most cases, each map subject comes with many maps, so it’s map heaven in there):

1. Future City Lab Maps

The Future City Lab has the “largest collection of digital data of the city anywhere,” says museum curator Sarah Henry. It’s the intention of the museum to keep that data up to date, so the lab is a true living, breathing tool for the future. The above map, one of many that cycle through the curved display screen, shows how many foreign born residents there are in New York City and where they live.

About 1/3 of the population of New York City is foreign born, of which the two largest groups are Dominicans and Chinese. Immigrants and their American children make up 55% of the city’s population. The display further highlights how “you can hear that diversity in the estimated 800 languages spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world.” The map that follows shows that immigrants own 49% of the small businesses in New York City, distributed all over the city.

The maps in the Future City Lab fall under five main categories: Housing a Growing City, Living with Nature, Getting Around, Making a Living, and Living Together.

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One Response
  1. Kiwiwriter Reply

    This is great stuff…I have to take my daughter to see these maps. Unrelatedly, my father and I both have walked through the “Belmont” at its home at the Branford Trolley Museum in Connecticut.

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