Geographic Information Systems
The evolution of the streets within Southwark can be seen in these images, beginning with this 1811 map.
1811 Map with 1920 Overlay
Note the swath cut by the introduction of I95 superimposed on this early 20th Century map.
1920 Map with 2005 Overlay
This contemporary map clearly shows the changes wrought by the interstate project.
2005 Map with I95 Overlay
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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, but it appears that most structures were originally constructed of brick.
The average 3 story building height is somewhat surprising given the economic circumstances of the neighborhood. As most structures were listed as 'messuage', or tennement, the original builders may have been incented to make the most of their lots.
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, position on their lot is not commonly noted. Similarly, city property maps for the period do not provide such detail. So, although the materials and height information is old, building outlines are contemporary. Availability of such information, when combined with census counts would allow for true analysis of population density across time.