New York Neighborhoods Project

New York Neighborhoods Wiki Partner(s): Ken Jackson
Department of History

Access: Private
Released: December 2007

VIEW PROJECT

The New York Neighborhoods Project wiki is an online collection of student-produced research about New York City neighborhoods. The wiki was produced for Professor Kenneth Jackson's class entitled, The History of the City of New York. This project, which was developed by CCNMTL and Professor Jackson, allows students to create neighborhood analyses of different places in New York City. The analyses are based upon original student research, and incorporate maps, data, images, walking tours, and interviews.

The New York Neighborhoods Wiki contains Google mapping technologies that allow students to mark their tours and points of interest along the walking tour, as well as precise directions to the neighborhood via public transportation; exact addresses of the places discussed; a general history of the area; individual histories of important structures; interviews with people in neighborhood institutions, and over a dozen historical and contemporary images for each neighborhood.

Project Details

For Professor Kenneth Jackson, learning about New York City's history means getting out into it. In his legendary History of the City of New York class – one of the largest in the College – he leads hundreds of Columbia students on an all-night bicycle tour. And the capstone assignment of this course extends the class into all corners of the city: Jackson requires his students to collaborate on walking tours of the city's myriad neighborhoods. Charting the city thus turns into a collective and encyclopedic project for students, one infused with Jackson's unbounded enthusiasm for New York's legacies and possibilities.

Seeing the unique value of sustained portraits of neighborhoods off the beaten path, neighborhoods generally ignored by New York City tour books, Jackson has long wanted to share these walking tours with subsequent classes and the general public. Working with CCNMTL, he has begun a multi-year effort on a platform where students can structure and categorize their work, work collaboratively, incorporate a variety of data and illustrative multimedia into their tours, and link tours to maps. Shifting this assignment to the web has infused it with additional visibility and energy, inspiring students to devote extra care to work that is collecting across semesters. After a round of editorial scrutiny, the best of these walking tours will be published to the public: a reward for hard work that goes beyond a good grade at the end of the term.

CCNMTL is supporting this large assignment in a number of ways, including:

  • Customized wiki templates keyed to the multi-part structure of Jackson's assignment.
  • Migration and curation of student work across semesters, creating a staging ground of accumulated student work that can then be inventoried for projects to be promoted to the public view.
  • Guidance on effect multimedia authoring and embedding within the context of neighborhood reports, allowing students to create and display neighborhood tour maps, for example.
  • Highlighting of a rights-cleared resources available for incorporation into neighborhood reports, increasing the chances that student projects that embed resources from other sources can be published to the public.
  • Coordination with Columbia's Electronic Data Service on a customized set of KMZ data files, so that a range of information (land-use, census, transportation lines) may be visualized through software like Google Earth and incorporated into neighborhood reports.
  • Coordination with Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office on a 'contribution license' for students to use, so that their work and any resources that get incorporated into it are properly attributed.

Professor Jackson discusses the New York Neighborhoods Project