Skip to Main Content

It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Mapping and GIS Lessons for Poets, Historians, and Scientists: Google Earth Activity 2

CS-X Module created by Emily Fairey, Brooklyn College OER Developer

Prerequisites, Discussion Questions, and Learning Outcomes

Prerequisite: Download and Install Google Desktop Pro

Instructions:

  • Take an image (JPG, PNG, GIF) of an antique map and download to your PC. 
  • In Google Earth, add it to your map as an image overlay. Consult instructions.
  • “Georeference” it in the GE interface using at least 4 "control points."
  • In GE, name and describe this layered map, and export it as a kml layer. The instructor will collect the KML files of the entire class, and zip them into a KMZ file to be shared. Once downloaded to GE, all of the students' maps will be visible via this one file.
  • Import the class KMZ file into your GE program. Open it up, and you should see all your classmates maps under "temporary places."
  • Save the file to My Places, and explore the maps.

Discussion Questions 

  • Consider the contrast between your historic map and the GE platform.  
  • What are some of the difficulties of working with "image overlay" in GE? 
  • Did your image line up easily on the modern map, or did it have to be warped to fit?
  • NYPL, Hypercities, and Rumsey Collection all approach the task of "georeferencing" in very different ways. Contrast the approach of these three digitized map repositories.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain facility with image and kml overlay of historic maps on modern maps. Investigate process of Georeferencing, and learn importance of correct procedures. 
  • Develop sense of appropriate research and documentation of historic maps in ancient and modern digital formats.
  • Experiment further with Google Earth features such as KML import, Polygons, Flying, Movies, 3D buildings, etc.

Georeferencing and Image Overlay

Take an image of an antique map and download to your PC.  In Google Earth, add it to your map as an image overlay.  Consult instructions for image overlay if necessary. For now, a simple picture will suffice, though it is also possible to import kml and kmz files. I have used the original plan of Prospect Park by Vaux and Olmstead.

  • Download a historic map (as an image, not as a kml layer) and add it to Google Earth as an image overlay.
  • “Georeference” it over the GE interface using at least 4 "control points."
  • In GE, name and describe this layered map, and export it as an image and as a kml layer.
  • Import the image and kml layer you had previously created
  •  in GE.
  • Discussion Questions 

  • Consider the contrast between your historic map and the GE platform.  
  • What are some of the difficulties of working with "image overlay" in GE? 
  • Did your image line up easily on the modern map, or did it have to be warped to fit?
  • What do the two maps tell us about subjectivity or objectivity in the visualizing of real-world information?
  • NYPL, Hypercities, and Rumsey Collection all approach the task of "georeferencing" in very different ways. Contrast the approach of these three digitized map repositories.
  • Learning Outcomes

  • Gain facility with image and kml overlay of historic maps on modern maps. Investigate process of georeferencing, and learn importance of correct procedures. 
  • Develop sense of appropriate research and documentation of historic maps in ancient and modern digital formats.