The Harrisburg City Social Project offers a fine-grained picture of the people and buildings of Harrisburg and Steelton, Pennsylvania, between 1900 and 1930. Launched in Spring 2014 to complement the City Beautiful Project, history and geospatial technologies students from Messiah College and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology input information from the 1900 federal census into a database, and linked it to digitized residence polygons of a contemporary historical map in ArcGIS. The resulting GIS provides high-resolution demographic maps of Harrisburg in the early twentieth century. An interactive historical map of the city with overlaying census data and modern satellite imagery was made publically available in late 2014.
Over the last two years, students and professors in other classes have added more census years (1910, 1920, and 1930), church membership records, and property values. Our plans for future development include analytical maps at ArcGIS Online (showing fields such as birthplace, occupation, race, and property value) and religious affiliations. The finished project will provide a high-resolution picture of the social diversity of a small American city and give researchers a valuable tool for interpreting the causes and consequences of the City Beautiful movement in social and spatial terms.