Geographic Information Systems

GIS can offer another perspective from which to view the neighborhood's evolution. The development and destruction of the streets within Southwark can be seen in the following maps.

Source: Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access, phila-streetcent2005.zip, http://www.pasda.psu.edu/philacity/.

As has been discussed, fire insurance records from the late 18th and early 19th Century provide some detail on the nature of structures around the city. Records from the Mutual Assurance and Franklin Fire Insurance Companies were used as input into the map below. As you can see, by the early 19th Century most buildings along the street were of brick. More detailed investigation of building history may reveal building materials change over time.

There are several issues with this map, however. Not all insurance records include height or building material information. And while insurance records frequently provide dimension information, positioning of the various structures on a lot is not commonly noted. Similarly, available city property maps for the period do not provide such detail. So, although the materials and height information is historic, building outlines are contemporary. Availability of such information, when combined with census counts would allow for true analysis of population density across time.

DATA SOURCE: Mutual Assurance and Franklin Fire Insurance Company records for homes along Almond / Kenilworth Street.