High-Tech Look at the New York City’s Black History

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Stories about Downing’s [Oyster House] — and many other locales and people significant to black history in New York City — have rarely been classroom staples for schoolchildren. But these sagas, presented in text, historical images and interactive maps, are the focus of a new Web site officially unveiled on Wednesday with an acronym, MAAP, that stands for “Mapping the African American Past.”

The Web site, presented by Columbia University at http://www.maap.columbia.edu, uses video, audio and maps and images to showcase 52 historic sites and people in the city, ranging from the familiar (the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan) to the rarely acknowledged, including the Oyster House and the Colored Orphan Asylum.

“It gives students an opportunity for detailed study in a way that would never be possible in traditional textbooks,” said Frank A. Moretti, a professor of communications at Teachers College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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