Visualizing change: Nantucket Island, Massachusetts 1950s – present: A multimedia historical GIS
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This project had three main objectives: 1. To build a multimedia historical GIS of Nantucket, Massachusetts 1950-2000; 2. To study the historical geography of the island, with specific emphasis on the relationship between historic preservation, nature conservation, and housing; 3. To study this relationship at different spatial scales, ranging from the single house to the neighborhood to the entire island, and analyze and explain these spatial differences. All these objectives were met. A multimedia GIS has been built over the course of the past nine months. Also, we are currently creating a website for disseminating the results of the project. The website is a companion to a paper currently under preparation. The island of Nantucket was chosen for the project because it is a prime example of the planned creation (starting in the 1950s) by a restricted group of individuals of a high-end tourist resort. Also, Nantucket has a long tradition of historic preservation and nature conservation. Together, these factors are pushing life residents' unable to afford the cost of housing out of the island. A multimedia GIS is the ideal tool to study how Nantucket spatial dynamics have changed from the 1950s and how these dynamics play out at different scales. Finally, this project is an example of building a GIS database with the explicit purpose of studying and trying to explain the historical geography of a place. Traditionally, historical geographers and historians do not use GIS in their work.