Necropolis is a semester-long digital humanities project in development by a team of students in the CUNY Graduate Center’s Digital Praxis 2015-2016 seminar. Necropolis—literally, “city of the dead”—describes our objective: to create an interactive thick map* of an urban historic burial ground. Working with New York City’s Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, our team will create a prototype website that enables visitors to explore one of the congregation’s three Manhattan cemeteries, Beth Haim Shenee (the Second Cemetery), near the corner of 11th Street and Sixth Avenue. This once-rural burial ground, which was active from 1805 through late 1829, reflects significant events in the history and growth of New York’s Jewish community, the rapid expansion of the city, and the founding of the nation.
Once complete, the project’s database structure, code, and documentation will be posted on GitHub, the open-source software repository, available for reuse and adaptation to serve the preservation and public engagement efforts of other historic sites and burial grounds.
* Thick mapping (such as the pioneering Hypercities project) is a “humanist project … that transforms mapping into an ethical undertaking … a means of integrating scholarship with the world of lived experience, making sense of the past in the layered spaces of the present for the sake of the open future.”