Final Project: The South Bronx is Burning Historypin Tour

By: Sherrell Daley

For my final project, I created a tour using Historypin to explain the factors that led to arson in the South Bronx in the 1970’s. The tour shows how the community was affected by the fires and how the federal and state governments responded to the crises. Throughout the tour, I reference the New York Times’ archives and books about New York’s fiscal crisis as well. I pinned specific areas where the arson took place and relevant locations that explain different sections of the tour. For example, I pinned New York, New York when explaining the history of the South Bronx and pinned specific arson events to show how all of these events were connected to one another. 

These are the questions I answered when creating the tour:

  • What economic factors led to the arson? 
  • Why was the South Bronx more heavily impacted by the fires than other parts of the city?
  • Who benefited from the fires? 
  • How did the fires impact the South Bronx community and its residents?
  • How did the city and federal governments respond to the arson?

To answer these questions, I decided to research the factors that led to the fires in New York City, particularly in the South Bronx, in the first place. I researched New York City from the 1930s – 1960s to write the Introduction section of the tour. As previously mentioned, I referenced the New York Times’ archives of the reports of arson in the South Bronx along with books about the New York fiscal crisis to complete the project.  

Originally, I set out to create a story map exhibit showing the pattern between the distances to each fire station and the locations where arson was reported in the South Bronx. I was trying to find documents about the closures of fire departments in the South Bronx in the 1970s, but was unable to obtain the records. After talking to one of my classmates, I decided to focus on how the residents were affected by the fires and how it impacted the community at the time. Also, when first trying to create the exhibit on Storymaps it was really difficult to work with, so I decided to work with Historypin instead. Overall, Historypin was more user friendly, I felt more comfortable using it and I actually already had some experience working with it. 

Despite my rough start, I am very satisfied with how my project turned out. Historypin really helped me accomplish my goals for this project and even exceeded my expectations. This software was very easy to use and it allowed me to quickly make changes and add materials to the collection/tour. After this project, I will try to take a break from this topic and explore other areas in New York City’s history and the 1970s. I really enjoyed working on this project and gaining more experience making online exhibits. I hope I can make more of them in the future. 

I hope you enjoy the tour as much as I enjoyed making it!

Link to Tour –,-73.918426,11/bounds/40.654039,-74.066398,40.980898,-73.770454/paging/1/pin/1171547

Presentation Poster of the South Bronx is Burning Project
The Historypin Tour

2 Replies to “Final Project: The South Bronx is Burning Historypin Tour”

  1. Sherrell, I really liked your original idea for your project and I can feel your frustration with being unable to access certain records for research. I hope you do pursue this research in the future.
    Despite your initial difficulties, I think your project came out beautifully. I think geographically documenting the burning of tenements in the Bronx is almost like establishing the permanency of those communities in NYC. NYC like many cities changes overtime because of migration and gentrification, but I think your history pin is a great way to prevent the erasure of these people and places from NYC’s landscape. It gives voice to people who were pushed out of their homes. Great job!

  2. Sherrell, you excelled at analyzing the historical significance of the series of arsons that occurred during the 1970s in the South Bronx. The use of HistoryPin has given your digital exhibition a great visual aid for all intended audiences. When I first explored your virtual tour, I was viewing the tour on my desktop. The fact that HistoryPin is configured for desktops and mobile devices is impressive. I think that not having to worry about designing a tour for both desktop and mobile users is an incredibly helpful feature because it allows users to visit the sites without having to print anything out. This tour has a great combination of historical background and imagery. Overall, wonderful final project!

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