Digital Project Proposal

For my digital project, I will be creating an online exhibition about arson in Brooklyn . I would be focusing particularly on the late 1970s and how slumlords would typically burn down their apartment buildings in order to collect the insurance money. In the past, arson fires in Brooklyn have been looked at, but only through traditional historical scholarship. I want to look at these arson fires through a public history perspective. I hope by creating this online digital format it could reach more people and I will be able to help explore this subject through a cultural and social lens. 

For this exhibit, I will be looking at the pattern of arson fires around Brooklyn in the 1970s and how slumlords would burn their buildings where the fire departments were closed due to budget cuts. 

Who benefited from these fires. Other than greed, why would landlords burn down their properties ? Why were there so many fire department closures at the time ? What was the impact of the fires on tenants ? If landlords were ever caught, how were they prosecuted?

New York City Fire Department reporting an arson fire

I will develop a digital exhibit on ArcGIS StoryMap to show the patterns of arson around Brooklyn at the time. I believe that StoryMap is the best way to display the significance of my exhibit. By using this tool, you could see the pattern of how slumlords would burn their buildings, especially in places that no longer had a fire department due to budget cuts. StoryMap is very user friendly, making it easy to use. I will also include photos of buildings and use historical scholarship in order to create the most informative and accessible exhibit possible.

2 Replies to “Digital Project Proposal”

  1. Sherell, this is such a cool concept! Honestly, I had never heard of this phenomena, so it would be really interesting to see how you could create an online exhibit that takes into consideration different levels of knowledge held by the viewer. On top of using the map, would there be specific images connected to different locations? I could definitely see a section highlighting specific stories of either tenants or slumlords.

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