100 years of my childhood neighborhood


My neighborhood went through dramatic changes while I grew up. I was 10 miles from Washington, DC. Changes are even more dramatic since I left, about 40 years ago.

I went to the US Geological Survey and collected every map I could find of my neighborhood from 1890 through 1994. I lined them all up and made it into a video. It could be better, but it’s interesting.

Here’s a PDF of the original map fragments in the animation.

I used GIMP and its GIF animation to do this. It could be better, but I decided to share my first try:

animation gif v3 500.gif

Three observations about this process:

  1. GIMP is the wrong automation tool, but I gave it a try. The flickering is annoying. I may try again and use a genuine animation tool.
  2. The USGS had lots of post-WWII maps, and a few pre-WWI maps. There was NOTHING for McLean, Lewinsville, or Spring Hill, between 1900 and 1945. Someone scanned part of a 1925 map to illustrate the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, but I couldn’t track down the original. The 1925 image here is pretty awful.
  3. The maps don’t exactly line up. I spent time adjusting and even warping bits of the maps to make roads fit that hadn’t especially moved. The few survey markers appearing in maps should still line up. The oldest maps were especially bad at lining up.

Anyone who has an idea of where I can find more maps, feel free to contact me.

6 thoughts on “100 years of my childhood neighborhood”

    1. There are actually 3 different places in McLean called “Prospect Hill” on various maps. The trolley stop below Shannon’s, where we waited for the bus, was called that. A small village a little west of Madeira School was also called “Prospect Hill.” Some hill near Swink’s Mill used the name, too. Which were gold mines? Beats me.

  1. Looks nice to me! I thought I recalled a range of GIMP options to select transitions when producing GIF animations, which might help with flicker, but don’t remember if they’re in base GIMP or the (separately installed?) GIMP Animation Package (GAP).

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