About this Project

In November, our Digital History class had a guest lecturer. He told us about an interactive program he helped to create for elementary schools. It all seemed quite great, until he explained it was no longer online. Apparently, the service used to host it hiked the price and they were forced to shutter the project due to lack of funds. It seemed an ignoble demise for a project so promising. This led to me to ponder that perhaps some of the service we value as free or affordable today could hike the price or start charging. What could people do besides pay up? This got me thinking for our second digital history project. I wanted to create a website using information available for free on the web and than upload it to a server by editing and inputting raw code. This way I was only dependent on my technical ability and whatever interesting css/html templates/code I could find on the web. I was already fortunate because I owned a domain name from high school, so I had the web space available for such a project. I would say this was the main downside of electing to do thing myself without going through a third party like Word Press. There was no option to host this for free, or if there was it would be bogged down by advertisements or other encumbrances. There is also the issue that things are never as simple as they seem when coding. The search engine script I found, deceptively titled “Simple Search” has still perplexed me, and I am unable to get it to return any results. This is a learning experience, and has taught me more time and effort is required even for things called “simple.”
For this second project I decided to expand upon my first. In the first project I created a single webpage that documented the transition of the Grumman property in Bethpage New York from an aircraft and space program manufacturing facility to a mixed-use redevelopment that started in the 1990s and really got underway in the 2000s. My goal in the first project was to demonstrate how and when this unfolded, and I had never seen anything online previously that chronicled the transition. I also wanted to place this in context within the wider community, and with deindustrialization and defense spending cuts that occurred after the Cold War. Part of doing this is to provide a brief history of the community in which the plant was located, and to point out all defense contractors suffered in the 1990s. I have tried to keep each page fairly brief for maximum readability, since some people tend to lose interest if they see too much text. When I worked at a museum I was told I should aim for about 100 words per label, any more and people would not be interested in finishing. I have kept this in mind when writing my pages, though some are longer than others.
The drinking water contamination was something that I only touched on during this project. In the 1970s it became evident that Grumman had contaminated the local water supply. I chose to add this into the 1960-1980 part of the website instead of devoting a whole section to it. I thought perhaps it would be bit too broad to spend too much time on this. However, if I was to expand this website I would consider adding more about this aspect. It seems many websites about Grumman seem to skirt this issue, and I think it is important because it places emphasis on the perils of having such heavy industry so close to residential communities. It seems most sites about Grumman are by people with some sort of attachment to the company, so I understand why they don’t directly tackle this issue.
I have utilized several things for this project that we have learned about during the semester. Google Earth was an invaluable tool when making this website. I was able to find historical imagery of the site and even some data about the current owners of parcels of the former property. Another of the hard things was creating the overlay, which is in the 2000-2010 section of the website. My problem was that the 1994 photograph available was black and white, but the 2010 one was in color. This made my overlay appear muddy, no matter how many times I played with the transparency settings. In the future I would like to try a slider. Another thing I utilized was the Creative Commons, we learned about all these images available under the Creative Commons website. I was able to find a chart of changes in United States defense spending during the second half of the 20th century using this. Creative Commons is great, because many images are free to use as long as credit is given.
Overall I am happy with how this website turned out, but there are definitely some pitfalls to doing the coding manually. Although I feel I had total control over the destiny of my website, the technical knowledge required can be a bit daunting. Also, the need to have a server to publish these files is an entry barrier to people who may want to casually try this out before committing. If I did not already own a domain and hosting I am not sure if I would have wanted to incur this expense. As I mentioned earlier, I still can't get my Search Engine to function, and I am not sure why. However, I am still happy I chose to try to do this myself, even though the learning curve has proved to be a little steep, especially for the more complicated aspects like search engine scripts. On the other hand I think that creating such a simple website has notable advantages. Wordpress sites can tend to feel sort of overwhelming sometimes, and I don't always know where to intuitively click first. The navigation of this website is straight forward and simple. I think this has two advantages. People not as familiar with surfing the web, like senior citizens, will be able to navigate this site more easily. I say this because I think that seniors take a special interest in their local heritage. And, many older people still have older computers, and this website will quickly load on either a slower connection or an older computer.

Works Cited

"Bethpage Water District" http://bethpagewater.com/News/Article/id/4/title/what-you-should-know-about-the-northrop-grummannavy-plume (Accessed December 5, 2014)
"IMF: Economic Issues" https://www.imf.org/EXTERNAL/PUBS/FT/ISSUES10/INDEX.HTM (accessed December 5, 2014)
"Central Park Historical Society: Bethpage" http://www.bethpagehistory.org/wiki/index.php?title=Bethpage (accessed December 5, 2014)
"Central Park Historical Society: Grumman Corporation" http://www.bethpagehistory.org/wiki/index.php?title=Grumman_Corporation (accessed December 4, 2014)
"Our Heritage" Northrop Grumman Corporation. http://www.northropgrumman.com/AboutUs/OurHeritage/Pages/default.aspx (Accessed November 2, 2014)
"Historic Aerials" NETR Online. http://historicaerials.com (Accessed November 2, 2014)
Parceling Out the Grumman Property in Bethpage, The New York Times, June 4, 1995, 8
Grumman Map, http://www.crewpatches.com/images/article_re_grumman-map-full.jpg
Parceling Out the Grumman Property in Bethpage, The New York Times, June 4, 1995, 8
Navy Cancels a Grumman Contract, The New York Times, February 27, 1991, D1
Mr. Cheney, Tell Us Why You Wounded Grumman, Newsday, October 16, 2012
500 More Jobs Will be Cut at Grumman, The New York Times, November 24, 1992, D4
United Staves Navy, 1983, Public Domain
Long Islanders Shocked by Grumman's Merger, The New York Times March 8, 1994, D6
Google Earth, 1994 imagery
Parceling Out the Grumman Property in Bethpage, The New York Times, June 4, 1995, 8
Cablevision Takes Last of the Grumman Buildings, The New York Times, December 28, 1997
"Historic Aerials", NETR Online. http://historicaerials.com (Accessed November 2, 2014)
Nassau Votes to Accept Two Grumman Parcels, The New York Times, November 3, 2002, L18
Grumman's Exit is a Blow to Bethpage, The New York Times, March 17, 1996, L11