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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, August 30, 2004

THE GROUNDBREAKING SCOOP
Making Maps


At over 1,255 acres, Flushing Meadows Corona Park covers an expanse big enough to get lost in. Perhaps more disorienting is the fact that over the last century the park’s landscape has been dramatically made over more than once. Not only have familiar landmarks been obliterated and new ones constructed, but the park’s hidden underground infrastructure has been reconfigured as the topography was transformed from swamp to ash dump to World’s Fair grounds (twice). Now the park, home to Shea and Arthur Ashe Stadia, as well as dozens of jam packed summer festivals, competitive soccer matches, the Queens Museum, Hall of Science, Botanical Gardens, Zoological Society, and Theater in the Park, is being comprehensively mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.

Supported by a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund, the Systems and Analysis Team at Capital Projects is working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Planning division and MIS to compile data, historical and current, which can be used to graphically illustrate the park’s geography.

The objective is to create a digital map model that integrates graphic and database information as well as text documents and photographs from a wide range of sources. GIS Specialist James Labate is finding convertible data in agency resources like our Designers’ CAD drawings, the Parks Photo Archives and the Olmsted Mapfile. He is also acquiring information from external sources such as The Queens County Historical Society.

Collected information is stored in a single database with cartographic capabilities. This data will help convey the exact locations of multiple park features from individual catch basins and water fountains to the park’s complete drainage scheme and entire plumbing system. Architectural plans for buildings that exist (and even buildings that no longer exist) can be found at the click of a mouse button. Maps composed of multiple layers of data representing different themes over time can be generated that will elucidate the rationale for the current layout of the park.

Each layer illustrates different information and can be superimposed over another to provide a visual explanation for what exists where and why that allows for interactive visualization and queries. For example, the destination of a gas line which seems to lead to nowhere in 2004, can be explained by bringing up the layout of buildings from the 1939 World’s Fair, which shows a structure at the end of the line. The detail compiled in the map model will contribute to the Restoration Framework Plan as urban planners and landscape designers contemplate the future of this historical park.

A similar project is underway for Sailor’s Snug Harbor in Staten Island. These two pilot projects will be used as prototypes for planning and analysis at other locations in the future.

"Creating a GIS based map that will support the development of a master plan is one of our first chances to see the full range of opportunities afforded by this powerful technology," said Amy Freitag, Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects. Freitag sees a bright future for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, whose next incarnation may be as host to the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Written by Adrian Sas

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Beauty is the purgation of superfluities."

Michelangelo Buonarroti
(1475-1564)

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