Placing the Past: Using GIS to Reconstruct the Maritime Landscape of the 18th Century Alexandria, Virginia Waterfront
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The town of Alexandria, Virginia sits along the Potomac River in the northeast region of the United States. Established in 1749, Alexandria has a rich history spanning over 250 years, and during the late 18th and early 19th century the waterfront underwent a drastic landscape transformation. To reconstruct the maritime landscape transformation, historic records and archaeological sites were incorporated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) to spatially analyze the development process. This process included the creation of artificial land to extend the eastern shoreline of the town deep into the Potomac River channel. Investigations into the motives and methods for artificial land creation were sparked by the discovery of four ships buried beneath the waterfront. Inclusion and analysis of the ship sites and historic structures in conjunction with economic, political, and population data, facilitated the tracking of shoreline transformation at a temporal scale previously inaccessible. Utilization of GIS also focused the deposition date range for the four ships recently unearthed, furthering our understanding of the historic transformation of Alexandria’s waterfront.
Geographic Information Systems
Shultz, Lauren Michelle (2019). Placing the Past: Using GIS to Reconstruct the Maritime Landscape of the 18th Century Alexandria, Virginia Waterfront. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from