Atlanta Explorer

Atlanta Explorer

Project Overview

The Atlanta Explorer project involves building geospatial databases, geocoding tools, and eventually an interactive virtual city for post Civil War Atlanta to 1940.

The project presents broad potential for urban studies projects to understand the built environment and social history and for using crowd-sourced information about particular sites and structures. It brings together students, staff, and faculty, from Emory and Georgia State University as students get hands-on experience with geospatial data creation, database programming, and 3D modeling and get to work on a large-scale, multi-year open source, open data project.

Aspects of this project include:

  • Atlanta Geodatabases: Geospatial data structures (geodatabases) have been built from two key information sources -- an 1878 map of Atlanta and a 1928 map of Atlanta.
  • Atlanta Historical Geocoders: A geocoder turns a list of street addresses into points on the map with corresponding geospatial coordinates. The first historical geocoding tool was completed for the year 1928. Currently in production is 1929 and on the slate are all available city directories from post Civil War to 1940.
  • Atlanta Historic Maps: All historic maps and aerial photographs are curated by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library's Historical Map Collection.
  • Atlanta Explorer Interactive: 3-Dimensional models are being built for use in both ArcGIS CityEngine and in Unity.
  • Watch an early promotional video about the project's first stage.

Project Highlights

Emory Partners

Department of Environmental Sciences

Library and Information Technology Services (LITS)

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Additional Partners Georgia State University

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

ArcGIS Desktop and CityEngine





Key Contributions

ECDS projects advance Emory University's mission through research, pedagogy, publishing, and public scholarship.

Research The Atlanta Explorer Project seeks to bring together students and researchers from area universities to create interactive models and historical databases of Atlanta. Emory's strategic initiatives include engaging in research and community-building partnerships with the Atlanta community.
Pedagogy Students engaged in the production of geospatial data, geocoding, and 3D modeling aspects of the project learn essential skills in applying what they learn in the classroom to a real-world digital project. These student-built resources can then be used in individual research or for teaching about Atlanta as a city during this period.
Public Scholarship Atlanta Explorer seeks to produce geodatabases, geocoding tools, and interactive experiences for both scholars and the public. The geospatial data produced will be made available to the public to either explore online or to download for use in a geographic information system (GIS). The geocoding tools will serve as an information source to provide descriptive information about the buildings in both GIS and the interactive content.