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Using GIS to Enhance Historic Preservation: From Mapping Building Construction Dates to Mapping Cultural Relationships

Authors: Micah Arnholt*, Columbus State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Urban Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: space syntax, historical gis, depthmap
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation Link: Open in New Window
Presentation File: Download



In fall 2018, I completed a map of a single suburb’s construction dates as part of a community geography project that partnered Columbus State University and two city non-governmental organizations. These organizations were Historic Columbus, who leads historic preservation efforts in the community, and MidTown Inc., an urban redevelopment organization that supports community engagement and reinvestment in the city’s first and second ring suburbs. My work supported the nomination of the Carver Heights subdivision for the National Register for Historic Sites. Carver Heights is the first African-American segregated suburb in the post-World War II period. My GIS analysis supported the nomination process by calculating the area of the subdivision, identifying the number of residential and commercial structures, and creating a map that not only included the major periods of construction but also offered a footprint of each building. However, I wondered how GIS might support historic preservation beyond these basic descriptive and analytical efforts. This poster places my work in a broader context, revealing three capabilities for GIS applications within the context of historical preservation efforts: the analysis of spatial relationships, making cartographic visualization more accessible to historic preservation professionals, and enhancing the relational analysis of cultural features. I conclude by reflecting on the potential of Depthmap, a relational GIS, to add a deeper level of spatial analysis that, building on space syntax theory, recognizes the cultural factors in the production of space that can enhance historic preservationists’ cultural analysis of historic sites, their development and significance to the community.

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