I am interested in GIS methods for historical research, so I am exploring how GIS might be used in my research. I am looking at R to construct maps that attempt to track the movement of people into and out of Santa Clara Valley and using D3.js for building interactive scholarly works.

My current thinking about building such maps are:

  1. Most histories of Silicon Valley pay little attention to the area before it became the center of technological entrepreneurship and research. The Valley was originally farmland owned by Leland Stanford and leased to Stanford University, which could use the land in any way it saw fit. Before the 1950s, land was leased out to farmers. Only with Frederick Terman’s tenure as Dean of Engineering did the land start getting leased to non-agricultural businesses. How does this process play out? How does the landscape transform around Stanford as urban development moves in?
  2. Relatedly, the story of Silicon Valley places Stanford at the epicenter and suggests that high tech companies begin to radiate out from the university throughout the rest of the Valley. My hunch is that isn’t actually the case—that high tech was attractive to Stanford and other municipalities in the Bay Area. San Jose, for example, is chasing investment by high tech at the same time Stanford does. How can I map these things out? I’ve started to collect a database of tech companies in order to map where these companies are in space and time.
  3. A central political debate in the 1970s was disappearing open space, which eventually gave way to anti-growth legislation and new restrictions on urban growth. Where and do what extent are open spaces / green spaces established throughout the Peninsula?

To Do

  • [ ] Look into county shapefiles for Santa Clara Valley and Salt Lake City
  • [ ] Look into charting population change


December 11, 2012

  • Downloaded SVG of US counties
    • USA_Counties_with_FIPS_and_names.svg (map)

December 23, 2012

  • Downloaded SVG of Bay Area counties
    • California_Bay_Area_county_map (file) (link)
  • Downloaded SVG of Utah counties

July 31, 2014

  • Downloaded the Santa Clara County shapefiles from the US Census

March 20, 2015

Start work on the SJ annexation map/timeline – include charts w/ population by year and number of annexations by year.

October 26, 2015

  • Lots of GIS data from the Santa Clara County Planning Department is online and downloadable.

January 13, 2017

  • Received the GIS files for Mountain View annexation data from the City of Mountain View. Credit to them as well as May Kao (Mountain View GIS group). This will be integrated into the annexation visualization.