UTEP joins HyperCities, has maps available

Veronique Masterson

University of Texas at El Paso

The History Department at The University of Texas at El Paso has joined HyperCities, a project of the University of California-Los Angeles’s Center for Digital Humanities, to allow the public to explore the historical development of urban centers through an interactive website.

Visit the website, www.hypercities.com, to view 16 early 20th century El Paso maps and learn more about the larger educational goals of HyperCities and this new methodology for urban history.

Historical El Paso maps donated by Stewart Title of El Paso were georectified by UTEP doctoral student in history Aaron Margolis under the supervision of Adam Arenson, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, and with assistance from Raed Aldouri, Ph.D., and Abdiel Quezada of UTEP’s Regional Geospatial Service Center at UTEP. A public history grant from the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies funded work on the project.

Using geographic information system (GIS) technology, historical maps are layered on top of each other, allowing the user to trace change over time in a chosen city. In addition, a text option for scholarly articles is available to further illuminate a site, a time period, or features of the map in general.

These maps present a snapshot of the city before the construction of Interstate 10 in the 1950s along the city’s southern edge, and the changed boundaries of the U.S.-Mexico border that came out of the Chamizal boundary dispute. For example, users can trace the present-day development of El Paso with the rechanneling of the Río Grande in 1962, and reflect on the importance of the movement of national boundaries. The maps also offer a fascinating glimpse at the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy (now UTEP), allowing the viewer to grasp the growth of the University and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Margolis and Arenson are available for interviews, guided tours of the site, and can offer suggestions to teachers on how to incorporate the site into the classroom.

Information: Aaron Margolis, 314-448-2206 or amargolis@miners.utep.edu

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