New University of Iowa web resource maps the decline of a great American city

An interactive web project presenting a visualization of the political and social factors that led to the decline of one of America’s greatest cities has been released.

Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City ( )  represents University of Iowa History Professor Colin Gordon’s examination of how white flight, discriminatory zoning laws, and other factors resulted in the residential segregation that led to the decline of St. Louis’s urban core. The site combines conventional archival research with digital mapping technology and digitized historic artifacts to show users how a multitude of factors shaped the city over time.  The project builds on Gordon’s book by the same name published in 2008 by PennPress.

Enhanced by census data, property records, historical maps, and other primary source documents such as pamphlets, photographs, and city plans, the online maps tell the familiar story of urban decline in a new and compelling way.

The site is among the first in a growing collection of digital humanities projects hosted by the University of Iowa Libraries ( ). Funded in part by an Arts and Humanities Initiative grant from the UI Office of the Vice President for Research, the project involved input from GIS specialists, web programmers, and librarians from across the Iowa campus.