Map Series 01: The Nature of Raleigh’s History

DIY Cartography
Project Overviews

Download a PDF of this project sheet here.Please note: If changes are made to the schedule, the PDF may not reflect those changes.

See examples of student work from last year here.

January 12 – February 16 | 5 weeks | Research Methodology: Archival Analysis (Quantitative) | Mapping Methodology: Spatio-Temporal Maps


In this first map series, you will work in cross-disciplinary teams to map the development of the city through 5 topical lenses (natural history, socio-cultural history, economic history, political history, and physical development). Through this deep dive into Raleigh’s history, you will create a series of maps that look at discrete components of the city at 4 difference scales (Raleigh’s original city limits, Raleigh’s current boundaries, Wake County and the Triangle) and over the time period of Raleigh’s establishment through the present (1792 – 2018). Through these iterations, you will pay special attention to how scale informs and transforms the message of the map through altering the resolution and visible measurements of the systems depicted. This first series of maps and timelines will be used as a common resource to draw upon and build future maps throughout the semester.

The size of your maps should be 16” x 13.5” landscape but should be able to be scaled up to 32” x 27”. We will be supplying a template for you to import your maps in to. Plan to work in Illustrator so these maps can be scaled up.

The four scales you will be working at are:

  • Raleigh’s Original City Limits: 1 : 3,000 (1 : 6000 for maps at 50%)
  • Raleigh’s Current Boundaries: 1 : 50,000 (1 : 100,000 for maps at 50%)
  • Wake County: 1 : 100,000 (1 : 200,000 for maps at 50%)
  • Triangle: 1: 160,000 (1 : 320,000 for maps at 50%)

We ask that as you focus your study of the city through your topical lens that you pay special attention to which historical narratives are celebrated or “marked” versus which ones are hidden or possibly erased.  Raleigh hosts many historic monuments (from formal statues to street names) which memorialize a spectrum of events, places, and people commemorating important themes in our local, regional, and national heritage.  Through this course and its exhibition we hope to engage in the contemporary national debate on memorialization and evolving socio-cultural values by opening up questions on how different types of memorialization in Raleigh have come to be and how they frame our understanding of our city’s past, present, and future.

Learning Objectives:

  • Give students a birds eye view of the complex socio-cultural, political, racial, and economic forces at play in the development of Raleigh;
  • Encourage pattern-finding and initial conclusions based on those patterns;
  • Make connections between socio-culture shifts and the physical development of Raleigh;
  • Draw initial conclusions about what was driving early development;
  • Make critical comparisons between static and temporal data;
  • Learn basic elements of mapping through GIS and visual communication;
  • Understand the fundamentals of archival research;
  • Identify correlation and speculate on causation to inform future research questions.

Assignment Schedule

January 12: Introduction to class

Resource: GIS Basic Tutorial (from 2016) GIS Basics Tutorial Video; GIS Basics Tutorial and Presentation (from 2018)

Shared Timeline

January 17: GIS Tutorial 2: 203D 6-8pm (rescheduled for January 22)

January 19: Mapping and Design Research

January 22: 6:00 – 8:00 GIS Workshop 02: Standardizing and Preparing for Output: Analyzing Data; Exporting to Illustrator (Tips)

Please Note: This is an abbreviated version of the original tutorial since we had some technical difficulties. If you have questions, please contact Aline at

January 26: Making Observations: Visible and Invisible Data

January 29: 6:00 – 8:00 GIS Workshop 03: Structuring Census Data for ARCGis

February 02: Spatio-Temporal Data

February 09: 75% Final Review of Maps (Digital + Printed)

  • Identify  which map will be blown up with the timeline in the template. Include proposals for how you might make that map more detailed.
  • Draft of Timeline (explore google spreadsheet timeline for some basic/shared events)
  • Updated Maps (75% review):
    • Have all maps into Illustrator
    • Be working within assigned color swatches for your theme
    • Exploring how  time / change is evident in your maps

Read for February 16

  • Mereilles, Chapter 01: Hierarchical Structures

February 16:

  • Questioning assumptions, truths and findings
  • Updated Research Question/Overarching Topic and Titles for each of the 4 maps.
  • Semi-Final review of printed maps for in depth discussion and critique; Overlay of research questions
  • Have maps prepared by Wednesday February 21

Read for March 02:

Crouch, C. and Pearce, J. Doing Design Research. Chapter 03: Practice and Praxis, Reflection and Reflexivity (p 33-52);

March 02:

  • Map Series 01 Final Review

Read/Prepare for March 16: