Make your own map of NYC

So you want to make a map of NYC. You are familiar with the NYC Open Data Portal but have had some difficulty in finding all the data you need. You have the requisite software to construct the map (e.g., QGIS, ArcGIS, MapBox Studio, etc.) and the basic skills to do so. Perfect, read on.

This post is intended to provide a single source for the map ingredients. It is not intended to be the map cookbook. It’s up to the reader (i.e., mapper) to decide on data to include, colors, symbols, labels, fonts, etc.

NYC Planimetrics

The table below lists NYC DoITT geospatial data on the Open Data Portal and provides a very basic description of each data set. For more detailed information, see the included metadata. The table is grouped into core basemap features and other DoITT data.

The first grouping of data comprises the data used to construct the above map. These data are referred to as the planimetrics (aka NYCMap). Planimetrics are features captured from aerial photography and represent the City’s basemap. These features are updated on a four year cycle. Most but not all features are provided to the public. Utility structures is one that is not due to security concerns. For an historical perspective and to see how far we have come, read the following article on NYCMap. *Note the full article requires a subscription.

The second group represents other NYC DoITT data that may be of interest but is not necessary for producing a basemap. Some of these data are maintained directly by DoITT and others are compiled from agency sources. We do our best to keep these data current.

The last group includes notable geospatial data sets not managed by DoITT and agency sites where spatial data can be found.

Feature Name Notes/Alternate name Download URL
DoITT Boardwalks Boardwalks http://bit.ly/1AgMGek
Building footprint Permiter of base of building with height http://bit.ly/2gj5p1m
Contours Two-foot contours http://bit.ly/1xzWbBJ
Hydrography Water bodies http://bit.ly/1GXHvSp
Hydrography Structures Manmade features at the waterfront http://bit.ly/1qVgBAn
Medians Physical separation between travel lanes. http://bit.ly/2gsQPHZ
Miscellaneous Structures Billboards, sign gantrys, etc. http://bit.ly/2gsY2HS
Open Space City and Non-City parks and fields http://bit.ly/1xp4KSu
Parking Lots Paved parking areas http://bit.ly/1rZDCof
Pavement Edge Perimeter edge of pavement http://bit.ly/1q69NxX
Retaining Walls Where elev difference >= 10 feet http://bit.ly/2hc1V2i
Roadbed Roadway (polygon) http://bit.ly/1sNPqbn
Sidewalks Sidewalks in the right-of-way http://bit.ly/1s33RLE
Shoreline features NYC shoreline http://bit.ly/1BJo2EL
Swimming pools Inground only http://bit.ly/2hdo9nt
Cooling towers Ventilation and cooling towers > 4′ in diameter. http://bit.ly/2hdrGlH
Additional DoITT Spatial Data
Address Points Point representing addresses. http://bit.ly/2hbXu7H
Citywide Street Centerline CSCL; includes Bike lanes http://bit.ly/1zVbRmk
Digital Elevation Model One-foot DEM http://bit.ly/1sNY0GQ
NYC Wi-Fi Hotspot Locations Open and fee-based public wifi http://bit.ly/1wOcEiX
After-School Programs City-funded programs http://bit.ly/1BJnv5S
Agency Service Center Walk-in service centers http://bit.ly/1xxtqYZ
Greenthumb Community garden program http://bit.ly/1uEYXWv
Business Improvement Districts BIDS http://bit.ly/1qpzSiP
Individual Landmarks Individual, scenic and interior landmarks http://bit.ly/1ClycWj
Historic Districts Designated historic districts http://bit.ly/1G9V6HA
NYCHA Developments New York City Housing Authority http://bit.ly/1vkNxZJ
Zip Code Boundaries Zip code polygons http://bit.ly/1Ha4JVx
Data Services / Ready-to-use data
Building footprints and subway lines, stations and entrances Auto-synched on CARTO http://bit.ly/2gtoIs3
Notable Non-DoITT Spatial Data
Digital Tax Map DOF tax map; inlcudes blocks, lots, air rights, etc. http://bit.ly/1gfX6gs
Bytes of the Big Apple Various data sets including MapPLUTO http://on.nyc.gov/1wBowrp
Dept. of Transportation Various data sets & feeds http://on.nyc.gov/1yiQTtX

Every effort will be made to ensure the above table is complete and the links are current. If you find an error or omission, please feel free to add a comment below to let us know. Lastly, check back periodically as this table will be expanded as newer data sets are published.

Last updated: 12/09/2016

Happy mapping!

9 thoughts on “Make your own map of NYC

  1. Hello Colin,

    Sorry for entering this question here, I don’t know how else to contact you.

    I am trying to create a roadbed dataset similar to the NYC one, for Jersey City. It would be a first for me and I don’t know exactly how to go about it. Could you help with some information and/or advice?

    Thank you.

    Horia Popa

    • The NYC roadbeds were digitized photogrammetrically using stereo imagery. This requires specialized software and imagery with a percentage overlap. It’s called planimetric mapping. You can search around but there is no way I can explain the entire process. I guess alternatively you could just go with heads-up digitizing and digitize the roadbeds onscreen over aerials. You’ll need aerials and GIS software. Good luck!

      • Thanks, I guess I’ll roll my sleeves and start digitizing.
        I have another question regarding buildings datasets. There are Building Footprints and PLUTO. Building Footprints has roof height info and PLUTO number of floors, but the data is not per building but by lot. Is there a way that I can somehow use/combine the two datasets so that I can get the floor numbers into the Building Footprints?

        Thanks again.

      • You could do a spatial join. The problem is that there can be multiple buildings on a lot. I would not assume all buildings on a lot are the same number of floors.

    • You should request it from Jeffrey Wenger at the Jersey City Division of Planning. I received the Jersey City roadbed line file from him a few years ago for a planning contract for Jersey City Public Schools. If the City is reluctant to share it with you, make a FOIL request.

    • Thanks for the heads up.

      Landmark data was consolidated and the historic districts were not properly updated; therefore the link broke. Everything should be good now.

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