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The New York Public Library presents

Building Inspector

Kill Time. Make History.


Welcome citizen cartographers!
Help unlock New York City's past by identifying
buildings and other details on beautiful old maps.

GET STARTED

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The Library is training computers to recognize building shapes and other data on digitized insurance atlases. Via these easy, bite-sized tasks, you can help check the computers' work and capture other valuable information.

  • YES
    NO
    FIX

    CHECK
    FOOTPRINTS

  • FIX
    FOOTPRINTS

  • 123
    117
    111
    113

    ENTER
    ADDRESSES

  • PINK
    PINK
    GREEN
    GRAY

    CLASSIFY
    COLORS

  • Druggist
    Coal House
    Stable

    FIND
    PLACE NAMES

try any task you like, see which one(s) you like best

or:

SURPRISE ME!

WHY THIS MATTERS

Imagine if maps had a magic switch
that let you explore the geography of the past.

The Library wants to do this for New York City, turning historical atlases into time machines.

To do it we need to harvest all the fantastic detail from the original maps: building footprints, addresses, construction materials etc. — clues that will help unlock a million stories. With this information organized and searchable, you can ask new kinds of questions about history. Peel back the layers of the city and replay its growth. 'Check in' to vanished establishments and meet their ghostly proprietors. Or discover related historical documents (newspapers, photographs, business directories…) linked by place and time.

GET STARTED

LEARN MORE