Baltimore Ecosystem Study Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2012 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Visualizing Historic Baltimore
Cole, Joshua
Co-Authors: Dan Bailey

Abstract: Visualizing Historic Baltimore Joshua Cole 1, Dan Bailey 2 1 Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education, UMBC; 2 Imaging Research Center and Department of Visual Arts, UMBC 2 Imaging Research Center and Department of Visual Arts, UMBC As part of a project to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, UMBC is working with the Maryland Historical Society to prepare an accurate 3D terrain and map of Baltimore City relevant to that period. To date, we have digitized historic elevation contours derived from the highly detailed Atlas of the City of Baltimore, MD published in 1897, and USGS topographic quad maps surveyed between 1898 and 1905. A polygonal mesh developed from the contours will be the basis of terrain for a film to be shown during Baltimore City’s 2014 celebration of the War of 1812. High-resolution digital images were derived from scanning source maps, projecting, georeferencing, and merging into a single coverage. The maps were then manually traced to collect the desired elevation contours at a 5-foot interval. One objective was to locate the probable historic Chesapeake Bay waterfront for the Baltimore Harbor. As we traced the waterfront we omitted all built features and restored disturbed terrain. The available archival evidence showed that high tide reached the present day Water Street to the north and west of Charles Street. We were also interested in examining the possible channels of Baltimore City’s now buried streams. As we recreated the 5- foot contours, we omitted anthropogenic features such as quarries, roads, and railroads and created contours found in natural terrain. In some cases, we were able to represent the historic daylighted channels of today’s buried streams on the map. Jones Falls, Tiffany Run, Harris Creek and other tributary channels were recreated. The DEM and archival materials may be of value to BES researchers interested in historical biophysical data.