Friday, March 25, 2011

Wheelspin ~ A New Fort Worth Map CDROM ..For No Good Reason At All

Back on this page now after a couple of weeks of fairly intensive effort involved in publishing a new CDROM full of Fort Worth maps.  Well.. really just one map on 344 pages, plus three supplementary maps that have been published before. I call it: The 1924 Plat Map of Fort Worth. Snappy title isn't it? 

This volume has become one of the most important references I use in pursuing the general and map history of Fort Worth after World War I. While it certainly isn't suitable for a wall hanging or a coffee table it has a special place in my library. I've had it for a number of years and because its relative scarcity made it expensive, at least for my limited resources, I had to spend a some time thinking about making the investment when it became available.  It has been worth every cent that I put into it. 

It's a big, heavy, hardbound book that has had lots of use and has been re-bound at least once. The black and white pages are about 11" by 14". There are over 350 pages counting the excellent Guide Maps and the Index pages. Every single part of Fort Worth that was in existence in 1924 is included as are some adjacent lands.  It is all done in standard plat map format which means that a casual viewer will instantly become bored beyond belief and may be in danger of losing some eyesight.    

Click to enlarge map
As I came to realize how useful this set of maps was to me, I began thinking about getting them into digital form and onto CDROM so that others could use it. After all, that's one of the things I do. I guess my real ambition is to somehow get all of the hundreds and hundreds of Texas and southwestern maps I have into a form where everyone can see and use them, rather then just let them sit unseen in my storage. Of course reality eventually hits me and I realize that only a fraction of them are ever going to make it to hard disk. At last count there are something close to 500 megabytes stored with a few more added every day. 

Click to enlarge Index
As I was considering putting this volume on CDROM, there were many obstacles to face.  How to find time to scan this huge number of pages which would require time on a large, relatively slow flat bed scanner?  More importantly, what would I do with it, if I ever did get it published in a useful form?  After all, there was less than zero possibility that anyone else would be interested in a highly specialized reference tool like this.  With considerable doubt, I began scanning pages as I had time and decided that I would make up my mind about its public fate whenever I could look at the finished product. That was several hundred hours ago. And here we are now..

Click to enlarge map
A small tour: This is Page 1 of the plats. Obviously it shows the area around the Tarrant County Courthouse including the Trinity Bluffs and the river below. There are a couple of interesting features on this page alone. Look how now-forgotten Franklin Street dropped off the side of the bluff where Heritage Park is today.  It didn't connect with Henderson, because Henderson wasn't built yet, but did continue on along the river bank to its own bridge across the Clear Fork. And then there is Bridge Street that once connected the Trinity Bottoms to the lower bluffs with the Wire Bridge. The bridge was still  there, although the it was probably not in use at that time. Ford Street which connected to the river at what once was the original low water crossing is still shown. 

Those that follow public transportation in this period will see that the map shows the complex Northern Texas Traction streetcar and interurban tracks in the Uptown area. In fact this set really is the only map of the period with an accurate picture of the car lines.  The railroads are also well detailed. 

Click to enlarge map
Another of the plats shows the upper Samuels Avenue area which is under strong development today. The trolley still runs down Samuels by Pioneers Rest Cemetery. The grand homes with the Trinity overlook along Samuels Avenue were still in their prime. 

As the production work went on, I combined the 344 city maps into a single large PDF file that would run on any Windows or Mac computer as long as they had the Adobe Reader version 7 or later installed. Almost every computer running today has this program.  With the Adobe Bookmarks activated, navigation through the pages turned out to be pretty easy.  The Guide Map which are indexed to the pages and the other Index pages are separate so they can be easily printed to help navigation. Things were going pretty well.

1920 Fort Worth ~ Click to enlarge
I found I had a little room left on the CDROM so to give some balance I added a section with three more full Fort Worth and Tarrant County maps dated from the 1920 to 1925.


Now that the CDROM was done there was still the question of what to do with it.  Because of its specialization, none of my stores would be likely to display it.  I let things spin for a few days and then just decided to park it in my Amazon store and eBay store, available if anyone wanted it......

I'm glad I took the time and did the work, and now I'm glad it's off my mind so I can get on to other projects that are hopefully not quite so obscure..

All images from the Electric Books Collection

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