Scoping Out Your Beat
You won't get very far without relying on the following:
- NYC.gov - the official New York City Web site
Explore this website to find out which agencies do what - it will save you time later on. Each city agency has a site linked to this page. A number of agencies (the Department of Buildings, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to name just a couple) have interactive web tools which give you access to some records.
- New York City Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning is the most important city agency to learn about first, since they profile the city's neighborhoods, compile information about land use, and track NYC population trends.
- Gotham Gazette
This web publication is a good primer on the issues at the forefront of NYC policymakers' and residents' minds.
- City Limits
For coverage of issues from housing to criminal justice to welfare, check out the web version of this monthly magazine (print subscription available at the Journalism Library).
- New York Stories - Columbia's engagement with the city and its communities
This Columbia University web site includes news and information on Columbia's relationships with its surrounding communities and includes links to the The Record as well as planning updates for the Manhattanville campus expansion.
Visualizing the City
The following sites bring data about NYC to life, by mapping it:
- NYC OASIS
NYC OASIS is the New York City Open Accessible Space Information System Cooperative. The site presents an interactive mapping feature for data such as census demographics, natural resources, and even neighborhood trees. Maps can be created by zip code, neighborhood, or community district.
- Mapping Poverty in New York City
This resource from Community Service Society and United Way maps the impact of poverty on NYC communities.
- Social Explorer
A database product that helps to visually analyze and understand the demographics of the United States through the use of interactive maps and data reports. Explore thousands of historical data maps, from the first US Census in 1790 to the present.
Databases (Columbia only)
The following databases contain useful information about New York City neighborhoods, and can be accessed via LibraryWeb. All of these tools are available from off-campus to anyone with a valid Columbia e-mail ID and password.
- Infoshare Online
How many people live in your beat neighborhood? How many are on public assistance? How many have asthma? What are the crime statistics for your beat? Immigration trends? Answer these questions and many more using Infoshare Online, a collection of statistics about NYC from a number of sources, including the US Census Bureau and various City and State agencies. The data can be retrieved by community district number or neighborhood name, covers demographic, health, and socio-economic variables, and in many cases is available for multiple years, which lets you chart trends.
- LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Academic contains the searchable full text of most New York City metropolitan area dailies, with archives extending back to the early 1990s (and the New York Times back to 1980). The exception is Newsday, which is only available for the most recent six months.
- Ethnic Newswatch
Databases like LexisNexis are useful, but do not include a large number of articles from ethnic and minority newspapers, which can add dimension to your beat reporting. Ethnic Newswatch includes the full text of newspapers from ethnic, minority and native communities of the United States (including papers based in NYC). You can limit a search to a particular ethnic group's publications, and both English and Spanish language papers are included.
- ProQuest Historical Newspapers
Once you get to know your beat in its present-day incarnation, use this database to pull up articles about it from the New York Times, which is searchable back to 1851 in this unique resource.
Hit the Books
Some useful references on New York City:
- The Green Book: Official Directory of the City of New York
Journalism Library reference, and many other libraries on campus, call number JS1222.A3 N4
- County & City Extra: Annual metro, city, and county data book, 2010
- Encyclopedia of New York City
Journalism Library reference, and many other libraries on campus, call number F128.3 .E75 1995
Answers questions such as: Who was the first mayor of New York City? What is a settlement house?
- New Immigrants in New York
Journalism and other libraries, call number F128.9.A1 N48 2001
A 2001 book which includes chapters on specific immigrant groups as well as general essays on immigrants.
- Community District Needs
Journalism Library in reference, one volume per borough; also available online at the Department of City Planning.
These annual volumes include not only data about community districts but also the Community Boards' own annual assessments of their needs.
- AIA guide to New York City
Journalism Library reference and other libraries, call number NA735.N5 A78 2000
The premier guide to architecturally significant structures in New York City. Includes suggested walking tours.
In addition to Columbia University's libraries (including Avery, which houses the architecture & urban planning collections, and Butler, which houses many books on the history of New York City), you may wish to explore:
- New York Public Library
Includes the Humanities and Social Sciences Library; Science, Industry and Business Library; Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center; and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
- City Hall Library
The official depository for city agency publications.
- New-York Historical Society
- Brooklyn Historical Society
- Brooklyn Public Library
Includes an online searchable version of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902).
- Queens Historical Society
- Bronx County Historical Society