New Jersey is a great state to be a GIS specialist, consultant, or student. There is a wealth of GIS data available throughout the state, and that massive amount of data is getting easier to use.
The Office of GIS in the State’s OIT department has made available several statewide layers via WMS. If you’re not familiar with WMS, the gist of the service is that a remote server renders a georeferenced image of map that can be used in your GIS software, whether it’s desktop GIS like ESRI‘s ArcMap, or server-side GIS, like TileCache and OpenLayers. Having a WMS service available is an incredible resource. Where the 2007 aerial photographs span several DVDs (just having the 4 MrSID tiles that cover Rowan University requires 23MB of space*), being able to download just the portion of the aerials at the scale you need is wonderful. Coupled with the fact that it renders faster than drawing from tiles over the Rowan network is outright amazing.
The 1995, 2002, and 2007 aerial photographs are available through this service. Also available are the 1930s aerial photographs, which I already incorporated into an interactive web map on New Jersey State Atlas. More recently, the good people at OIT added another layer to their WMS server — historic topographic maps of New Jersey. These maps span the 1880s to the early 1920s. They’ve been georeferenced by State staff, allowing you to layer your GIS on top.
I’ve put together another web map that will allow you to switch between Google’s tiles, the WMS services offered by the State, and the USGS topo maps. Check it out and give me feedback!
*23 megabytes doesn’t seem like much, but when you have a computer lab of 24 students trying to pull those 23 megs from the same network share at night, the lab tends to grind to a halt.