William L. Clements Library

Bird's-Eye Views of America: An Interactive Map

How it Works

  • Use the + and - signs at the top right to zoom in and out. Click the home button in between the + and - signs to return to a view of the entire United States.
  • Click on the colored circles to zoom in on clusters of points.
  • Click on an individual blue point to make a popup appear. The popup will display the title, thumbnail, date, and creator of the individual bird's-eye view.
  • Click on the thumbnail to view the Clements Image Bank page for that view. This page will open a new tab that gives more information and a bigger view of the bird's-eye.
  • Either click the small X button at the top right of the popup or simply click outside the popup window to escape the popup.
  • Click the broken square button at the very top left to enter and exit full screen mode.
  • The three buttons below the + and - signs at the top left are filter buttons. The first filters by genre (Bird's-eye view, Cityscapes, etc.). The second filters by creator. The third filters by date range (1840-1859, 1860-1879, etc.) Click what option you want to filter for and then click anywhere outside the filter box to escape the box. The filter will remain until you uncheck it or hit the clear button at the top.
  • About this Project

    This project's intent was to catalog, digitize, and present a selection of bird's-eye prints of American cities held by the Clements Library. The library started collecting bird's-eye views in earnest during the tenure of current director, J. Kevin Graffagnino. Looking for an innovative and unique way to display these views, Corey Schmidt, under the supervision of the Curator of Graphics Material, Clayton Lewis, began working to build an interactive display for these views. Schmidt, a graduate student and Bonk Fellow at the University of Michigan School of Information, started by cataloging bird's-eye views and other prints of cities and landscapes. After cataloging 50 records, digitization of the large format views began. This required scanning the prints with a large, overhead scanner and uploading the images and associated metadata to the Clements Library Image Bank.

    The last step required building a website that could display the images on a map of the United States. Inspired by Louis Miller's experiments with the Tinder Photo Collection at the Clements, Schmidt worked with a mapping system called Leaflet. Leaflet is an open-source, interactive display for maps and geographic data. Because the Image Bank already contained the metadata for each view, Schmidt wrote a program that searched through the Image Bank and retrieved this data, which was then used with Leaflet's map display to create the map you see above. The project was done for internship credit for the University of Michigan School of Information, SI681.


    Corey Schmidt: Creator of the project. Cataloged views, digitized materials, edited Image Bank metadata, and built the map from Leaflet.
    Clayton Lewis: Supervisor for the project and mentor.
    Louis Miller: Assisted with introduction to Leaflet and project consultant.
    Jakob Dopp: Provided guidance and mentoring for MARC cataloging.
    Terese Austin: Supervised the MARC cataloging process.
    Emiko Hastings: Supervised the digitization process, webpage design, and uploading.
    Kari Tant: Provided technical support for the webpage and software.
    J. Kevin Graffagnino: Provided mentoring and expertise on the bird's-eye views.
    Nicole Scholtz: Contributed knowledge of Leaflet and general recommendations for the project.
    Justin Joque: Contributed knowledge of Leaflet and general recommendations for the project.
    Karl Longstreth: Provided access and consultation for the Stephen S. Clark Map Library's overhead scanner.
    Robert McIntyre: Guided the use of the Clements Library Image Bank API and adjusted it for this project.
    Roger Espinosa: Guided the use of the Clements Library Image Bank API and adjusted it for this project.
    Tyler Brockmeyer: Assisted with coding of the data and leaflet map.
    Marcus Ladd: Consulted for general advice from experience with his work on the Bowden Postcard Collection Online.


    William L. Clements Library Image Bank
    Leaflet: An open-source JavaScript Library