Chene Street History Project
Marian Krzyzowski, Director
Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy
The University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

Pilot Study Proposal Team:  Marian Krzyzowski, Karen Majewski, Ann Larimore, Sandra Arlinghaus, Robert Haug

Key GEOMAT elements
(Note embedded Google Earth files on this page and on Zosia's webpage)
  • Linked .kmz file to open in Google Earth.  Download it and in GE, go to File | Open and navigate to where you downloaded the file locally.
  • Download Zosia's Travels as a .kmz file and take a tour in Google Earth.

This website offers readers a small sample of how Google Earth will be employed as an organizational entrance tool to the comprehensive GEOMAT format for managing complex human geographical studies.  Explanation and rationale for the Chene Street Project and for the GEOMAT study may be found elsewhere.  The purpose of this website is simply to illustrate the look and feel of a sample as a way to enhance user comfort and clarity in navigating Google Earth and the associated geosocial network.

The Google Earth Scene

In Figure 1, the scene opens to the Google Earth globe zoomed in to show Chene Street in Detroit, MI.  One building (with two addresses) has been added using Google Building Maker; this building contains the address 5331 Chene Street (the reddish-brown brick front).  When the 3D Buildings layer is turned on in the Layers panel, other 3D buildings (as part of the Google Earth default load set) also appear. There are two markers in front of the address, one for the address of 5331 and one for one of its locally well-known residents of the past.  In addition, there are two timelines corresponding to each of the markers.

In the pilot study, the area under consideration would have:
  • New 3D buildings built for every parcel in the pilot study, as the buildings exist now.
  • New 3D buildings built, insofar as there is photographic evidence, of buildings from the past.  Sanborn map layers will be added to the region with transparency adjusted as needed for construction visibility (Figure 2).
  • All buildings (within limits of image security) submitted to Google for evaluation for inclusion into the Google Earth default loadset that comes up automatically when the 3D Buildings layer is switched on.
  • Timelines associated with each building
  • Timelines associated with a variety of well-known individuals from the neighborhood.
It appears, at this stage, to use Building Maker as much as possible, both for ease of use and for image security.  Building Maker supplies rough photos.  Google Earth Street Views clarifies those with much better photographic evidence, as suggested in Figure 3 which shows the results of zooming in on the added 3D building at 5331 Chene.  When the combined Building Maker and Street Views approach is insufficient, it will be supplemented with the more labor-intensive approach of gathering field photos or other evidence to use in Google SketchUp.   In the latter approach, because we would not be using images already in the public domain, there might be issues involving their use in an open public arena such as the Google Earth 3D Building default loadset.

Figure 1.  Chene Street, Google Earth Viewpoint.  Markers and Timelines are in front of a building added to the existing 3D Buildings default loadset of Google Earth.

Figure 2.  Sanborn map added to the scene in Figure 1 so that locations of new buildings and associated data from the past might be assigned to reasonably accurate locations.  There are few buildings there now; in the past there were many.

Figure 3.  Street View resulting from zooming in on 5331 Chene Street.  Notice that the added timelines and markers remain in the picture.

Interactivity Feature

The timeline images provide interactivity and open the doors to the building and to the life of an individual.  When a timeline is clicked on, a window appears.  In the case of Zosia, the window contains a business card from her (no longer existant) restaurant (Figure 4).  In the case of 5331, a better photo of the building facade appears (Figure 5).  Insertion of such images only requires simple use of html within Google Earth.  Any image or link might be inserted. 

In Figures 4 and 5, notice that there is a link in each of them.  Click on the link to bring up the associated GEOMAT.  Each is contained on a webpage that slides into Google Earth.  Here, we give URLs for each, assuming that if the reader is now looking at this webpage that therefore he/she has the easy capability to look directly at the links as they will come up in Google Earth.  Figure 6 shows a screen capture of a part of one of these files to show how they look when slid into Google Earth.  This file contains numerous links to carefully accumulated archival matter possibly involving photographs, audio, video, text, scanned images of various sorts, and all that contemporary technology has to offer. 
The timeline along the edge in the linked file is the same as the timeline on the sidewalk in Google Earth.  Such visual unification suggests that not only is the GEOMAT in this html file one that links maps and data to timelines but also that the whole structure, involving the Google Earth linkage to the html files, is one as well.

Links to html files that will slide into Google Earth when timelines are clicked on:
The completed pilot project will contain as many timelines as there are, or were, buildings.  Timeline color might be used to separate out subsets of timelines.  Many timelines will link to other timelines.  In the case here, Zosia's timeline links to the building timeline, and vice-versa, since Zosia ran a business in this building for a number of years.   The completed pilot project contain many timelines associated with people.  If there are 100 buildings and 100 people, that would be 10,000 timelines (as a conservative estimate--surely many buildings will have more than one person associated with them).  Database management will be consistent with archiving and maintenance needs.  Liquid web design elements will be included as they are here with green and yellow linked timelines and on this page, as well, in the left column of line drawings.  Server-side include files will help ensure consistency in maintaining a large file set.

Figure 4.  Clicking on Zosia's timeline brings up an image of her business card.

Figure 5.  Clicking on the 5331 timeline brings up a better building image.

Figure 6.  Part of a GEOMAT to indicate its interface with Google Earth.  Open the .kmz file in Google Earth to make the links become active; or go to the link provided in the discussion above.

Maintenance Needs

Archiving needs are discussed elsewhere in this Pilot Project proposal.  Here, we address only maintainence needs of digital files.  The University of Michigan Library is an established leader in the handling of digital files.  We are working closely with James Ottaviani, the head of Deep Blue which is the persistent archive for digital files of The University of Michigan.  More than just a digital warehouse, Deep Blue has ongoing staff, to offer perpetuity of maintenance, of certain types of files.  Thus, it is important to understand that the Pilot Project is composed of two basic types of files:  .kmz and .html.  The .kmz format is new and perpetuity of that, as a format, is not as certain as other formats.  It can be housed in Deep Blue.  The .html format can also be housed in Deep Blue (but perhaps with consideration to flat file structure rather than to directory/subdirectory file structure) and it can also be captured in .pdf format.  The .pdf format receives maximum service from Deep Blue in updates and changes as times move forward.  Current .pdf format is consistent with all of the GEOMATs, which represent the bulk of the work.  Thus, we feel confident that we are affording maximum maintenance opportunity and security as time moves forward.  Mr. Ottaviani has offered, should Deep Blue not meet all of our needs (perhaps image security), to continue to work with us to find other arenas within the Library that do so.

Rationale for Choices Made Here

There are a few alternatives that one might consider to the sort of structure described here.  They fail, however, to meet our image security and control-of-materials needs.  Hence, we develop our own strategy that meets all of our needs.  For example, Facebook offers a timeline that one could imagine using within a context similar to, but not identical with, the GEOMAT structure above.  On the linked Facebook timeline, note that much of the content that appears on the Facebook site consists of links to other pages rather than of the content itself.  That is because it is the understanding of the author that photographs inserted in a Facebook timeline become the property of Facebook.  Similarly, the interesting "What Was There" site is also attractive as it fades old buildings into new ones.  That site too, however, appears to have issues similar to those noted with Facebook.  When we are dealing with personal photos we must be aware of, and responsive to, these issues involving control-of-materials.  What we propose captures all features of these public sites and offers others as well (3D, massive historical archive, lack of visual clutter, broad visual geographical context, and so forth) and it does so in a secure manner.

Questions or comments about this website should be directed to: