Lessons from Historical Streams of the Lower Raritan Watershed: a GIS approach

On a rainy day, you can walk through downtown New Brunswick, NJ and hear the remnants of a historic stream trickling through storm drains. This historic waterway is the Lyell’s Brook– a small side-stream of the Raritan River that was buried as a century of urban development transformed the landscape of New Brunswick.

Here we share a video recording of our March 24 “Lunch & Learn” session, during which special project intern Gavin Wagner presented on his undergraduate project “Finding Historical Streams of the Lower Raritan Watershed.” This project examines how and why streams like the Lyell’s Brook changed over time.

Gavin writes: “Historical maps are my lens, and GIS technology is my focus. With them, I dissect centuries of change throughout the dynamic watershed. This narrative presentation will cover my methods, their greater purpose, and the lessons I learned along the way.”

Gavin’s work informs the ongoing project and database “Finding Historic Streams of the Lower Raritan Watershed” hosted by Rutgers Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis.

Gavin has provided a list of web resources that inform this project:

USGS TopoView: Easy to use mapping interface with maps from the United States Geological Survey

Sanborn Map Company fire insurance maps of New Jersey 

Old Maps Online: historical maps from libraries around the world

Rutgers Mapmaker: Historical Maps of New Jersey