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Free website widens horizons for locked-down Londoners

A London mapping website is enabling suddenly home-isolated Londoners to do some detective work and find out how their area has changed over time.

Layers of London, a free website developed by the School of Advanced Study’s Institute of Historical Research (IHR) and a range of libraries and archives, brings together more than 200 historic map layers. Londoners can peel back time by spotting the differences between what they can see from their windows today, and what they could have seen 50, 100, 200, and in some cases almost 700 years ago.

Barbican after the blitz

The Barbican after the Blitz

An aerial image of the Barbican showing the damage done by bombing during the Blitz in 1940.

The Barbican today

The Barbican today

A contemporary aerial view of The Barbican, showing how the area has been developed since the damage caused by the Blitz.

Included in the map layers is information about topics like WWII bomb damage, relative Victorian wealth and poverty using Charles’ Booth’s poverty map, ancient history and archaeology, and London’s worst disasters. As well as browsing through history, members of the public can view records contributed by Londoners from all walks of life or add their own stories and histories to the website.

Adam Corsini, public engagement officer says ‘At times like these when people are forced to stay at home, the places where we live suddenly become more meaningful. Layers of London enables people to discover the stories of such places and to share them too. We are keen to encourage people to delve into the history of where they live, and to share any photos they may have of London’s places at different points in time.’

Layers of London’s crowdsourcing activities also offer families the chance to do online tracing to convert key historic maps into online searchable versions. Additionally, the Layermaker activity lets people help piece together aerial photos taken after World War II to discover how their neighbourhood was affected, and whether it took protective measures - like putting in place barricades or ‘dragon’s teeth’ or creating allotments.

For more information please see: 
www.layersoflondon.org

For more information about home education activities contact: adam.corsini@sas.ac.uk