Making Curriculum Pop

Bring 16th Century London into the Present

References to cities often make an appearance in Shakespeare’s poems and plays. This interactive map of early modern London will help students understand these references and truly appreciate The Bard’s work as they get to know the city in which he was writing. This bird’s-eye view of London (also known as the “Agas” map) was first printed on woodblocks in 1561—right around the time of Shakespeare’s birth—and then modified a century later. The intricate “Agas” map shows details such as monuments, institutions, businesses, marketplaces and urban planning fixtures. This interactive version pulls information from databases with names of locations, people and organizations in the city at the time, as well as reference material about the early modern period in London. These data are layered onto the “Agas” base map. If students click on the Middle Temple building, for example, the map will give them an idea of what it is and how it was used back when Shakespeare was around. They can also isolate urban features by type, using the labels on the upper-right corner.

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