Pastmapper, launched in December of 2011, is a platform for organizing data using the visual language of online maps to describe the world of the past. Beginning with online zoomable maps of 1853 and 1914 San Francisco, Pastmapper’s most recent efforts have focused on creating and exposing structured data from historical archives. Maps are rendered as georectified layers into Adobe Illustrator as individual zoom levels, exported to tiles using Maptiler, and displayed using the Google Maps API. Business listings are rendered using Google Fusion Tables and supported by a places database built using a modified implementation of Mediawiki.

Pastmapper is a project by Brad Thompson.

About Brad Thompson

Founder and Creator of Pastmapper

I’ve lived in San Francisco since 2005, where I’ve nurtured an obsession with history and uncovering clues from the past hiding in plain sight. With 11 years’ experience in marketing and business development, I began the Pastmapper project last year with strong graphic design skills and a lot of determination, but little familiarity with coding for GIS, map projections, or the Google Maps API. I embarked on a crash self-education course in Javascript, QGIS, Maptiler, and Mediawiki, and built a minimal working version of what Pastmapper will become. Along the way, I’ve built a strong understanding of the fundamentals of GIS, online mapping, and the digital humanities. I’m eager to move the project forward, and am fascinated by the potential of carefully-presented data to tell stories from the past.

I am a dedicated problem-solver and a builder of things, and an experienced writer and marketer. I am interested in developing standards for organizing and displaying historical information. If you would like to discuss an opportunity to work together, please contact me at (brad at pastmapper dot com), or reach out to me on Twitter. If you work on mapping, mobile and web development, and/or technology applied to history, we should talk.

I received critically-important help getting the map portion of the site running. Mano Marks and Kathryn Hurley at Google scoured my Javascript code and helped to get the custom tiles to load correctly, and the original map code is based on source material made available by Derek Eder. The mobile app development is made possible by the great folks at DoubleDutch here in San Francisco.