Mapping Industrial Legacies: Building a Comprehensive Brownfield Database in Geographic Information Systems
Planning Practice & Research
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Brownfields, land containing both actual and perceived contamination from former uses, pose hurdles to redevelopment, but are worthy of consideration due to their potential for aiding inner-city regeneration and providing alternatives to suburban sprawl. Yet the extent of the brownfield land problem is unknown in many cities, and relatively little research has systematically described efficient and effective ways to identify these sites. We demonstrate how a geographic information system (GIS) can be used for the identification and management of a brownfield database. A series of historical fire insurance plans and city directories for successive eras of development are incorporated in the GIS to provide extensive documentation about the location and condition of brownfield land. Such a system offers planners a powerful set of spatial–analytical tools to comprehensively describe the brownfield land situation, as well as being expandable and adaptable to document the general evolution of the urban landscape.