?> Seventh Ward GIS « The Ward

Seventh Ward GIS

Feel free to get started on your own, by following your instincts and clicking the tabs and buttons. You won’t break anything. But here are some tips for getting the most out of the site.


There are three tabs—“Identify Property,” “Find Person/Property,” and “Create Thematic Map”—in the application. The data are the same no matter which tab you choose, but what you are able to do with the data changes. The “Identify Property” tab allows you to search for a specific property, either by typing in the address or searching on the map, to see who lived there in 1900. The “Find Person/Property” tab allows you to look for an individual or property that meets a certain profile (such as Irish immigrant who has children). The “Create Thematic Map” tab allows you to view the data spatially, through a series of map layers. You can move back and forth from one tab to the next, so if you make a thematic map and want to know more about the people in particular properties based on the spatial pattern, switch back to the “Identify Property” tab.

Identify Property

You can type an address in the “Search by address:” field. The Seventh Ward stretches from 6th Street on the east to 27th Street on the West, Spruce on the north and South on the south. Try the address 814 Lombard Street, then click “Go.”

Click on the blue links for “family 2” and “family 3” to learn about the other two families at 814 Lombard Street. Click on the blue link for “deaths” to see what people who lived at this address died between 1895 and 1900. The people who died may not have been members of any of the families living there in 1900, but the death data give you an idea of how people died in 1900. One of the deaths was due to premature birth; another baby was stillborn; the third death was from “inanition” (starvation).

The census data for the families living at 814 Lombard Street should appear at the bottom after a few seconds. There were three families living at that address in 1900, probably one family per floor. The data for “family 1” appears automatically. This is the household headed by Sarah Coker, a 39-year-old black woman from Maryland who worked as a dressmaker. She had three boarders—people who paid to live in her home. This was a common arrangement, particularly among black and immigrant households.

You can also use the map to identify the people who lived at a particular property. Use the zoom (magnifying glass) tools to make the map larger or smaller and pan (hand) tools to move the map left or right. Try zooming in by clicking on the magnifying glass with the + and drawing box around the eastern side of the map.

Use the slider bar to further refine your location. Make your best guess where 8th Street should be. Now use the pan tool (or the up and down arrows on your keyboard) to move the map down until you see Lombard Street. It’s south of Addison and north of Rodman. Use the Identify tool (“i” in a circle) and click on 808 Lombard Street, which is 5th from the intersection of 8th and Lombard Streets on the south side of the street. This is the home of Morris Bosk, a Russian immigrant who was a tailor. This part of the Seventh Ward was home to many Russian Jews, and Jews often worked in the fabric and clothing business (Jews did and still do own most of the businesses along Fabric Row just south of the Seventh Ward). In order to view the census data for all 8 people in his family, you need to use the scroll bar.

Find Person/Property

From the Find Person/Property tab, you can look for someone who matches specific criteria. For example, you might want to find all the people in the Seventh Ward who had the last name “Johnson.” Make sure the radio button next to “person” is selected, then choose “Last Name” from the dropdown menu and click “Add Search Item.”

Now type “Johnson” in the box next to “Last Name” and click the “Search” button. After a few seconds, all 375 people in the Seventh Ward who had the last name of “Johnson” will appear on the right. Notice that there were black people and white people with the last name “Johnson.” Were there more blacks or whites? Modify your search to add race. From the dropdown menu, select race, then click “Add Search Item.” Put a check mark next to “Black” and click the “Search” button. Notice that 320 of the 375 people with the last name “Johnson” were black. Click on the address for one of these people, then click on the “Identify Property” tab to see more information about that person. Sometimes you will receive the message that the address could not be found because we could not link census records to parcels in our GIS 5% of the time.

Create Thematic Maps

From the thematic maps tab, you can look at GIS (“thematic”) maps created from the census data as well as historical (“background”) maps that have been scanned and georectified so that they more or less line up with the GIS maps. Try the background maps first. The 1895 Bromley map is a fire insurance map that provides basic information about street names, property numbers and sizes, and building materials (pink is for masonry, yellow for wood). Use the same zoom and pan tools to move in and orient the map. The map is a little fuzzy because a raster map at a high resolution would take too long to draw in our online GIS.

Next, try the Original Du Bois Map. This appeared in 1899 edition of The Philadelphia Negro as a color pullout map and featured the social class of each black family that Du Bois interviewed. Du Bois likely based his map on the 1895 Bromley map.

To see the legend for this map, pan down (the legend appears below South Street). You can also turn the background off (“none”) and choose Du Bois Grade from the Thematic Map list.

You can look more closely at the people and households that make up the spatial patterns you see in the thematic maps by using the “identify” tool. Choose, for example, the map of total servants and zoom in to the 1800 block of Spruce Street. Click in 1820 (8th from the 19th Street end), then switch to the “Identify Property” tab to see who the servants were who lived there.

Notice that the census data is incomplete for the servants in family 1 and 3 (probably because the person who spoke with the census enumerator didn’t know much about their background). The servants for family 2 were from Ireland and Germany.