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Tuesday, 27th November 2007

Sanborn Maps From Google and Historic Sanborn Maps from Many Providers (Free and Fee)

News from GB that they are making available a new set of maps on the Google Maps site labeled "terrain."

Cool? You bet.

Here's mid-town Manhattan. Info pros will quickly realize even before looking at the bottom of each map that what they are looking at are Sanborn maps.

In other cases (no Sanborn map), users are looking at terrain/physical maps, similar (but not exactly the same) as to what the USGS offers (at no charge) from many databases. Many might call them physical maps*** vs. topographic maps.

Here's an example, at Level 1 where you can see some Sanborn content and other areas where it's not available.

+++ TopoZone
+++ National Atlas ||| New Physical Features Map ||| Historic (1970) Maps via American Memory
+++ Historic Topographic Maps of California and the SF Bay Area
+++ *** Ask.com has offered physical maps for over a year at zoom levels 7-10.

Sanborn Maps
The history:

Sanborn fire insurance maps are the most frequently consulted maps in both public and academic libraries. Sanborn maps are valuable historical tools for urban specialists, social historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, local historians, planners, environmentalists and anyone who wants to learn about the history, growth, and development of American cities, towns, and neighborhoods. They are large-scale plans containing data that can be used to estimate the potential risk for urban structures. This includes information such as the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. Seven or eight different editions represent some areas.

Now, are there any Sanborn Maps available on the web from sources other than Google, especially historic maps?

The answer is yes.

Here are a few of MANY sources with MORE to come. Access to these collections is completely free.


+ Current: City of Emeryville, CA Maps (registration required, free)
+ Kentucky Landscape Snapshot (registration required, free)


+ Alabama (via Univ. of Alabama)

+ Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Maps of Florida

A collection of more than 3,000 map sheets digitized from the printed maps held in the collections of the Smathers Libraries' Map & Imagery Library, at the University of Florida.

+ Georgia (via The Digital Library of Georgia): Fire Maps for Georgia Towns, 1884-1922

+ South Carolina (via Univ of South Carolina)

+ + Utah Maps (via J. Willard Marriott Library)

The Sanborn Map Collection consists of a uniform series of large-scale detailed maps, dating from 1867 through 1969 and depicting the commercial, industrial, and residential sections of cities.

See Also: Digitizing Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for a Full Color, Publicly Accessible Collection by (via D-LIB)

+ Indianapolis, IN (IUPUI Library)

+ Charlottesville, Virginia (via Univ. of VA) (1920)

+ Frankfort, Kentucky 1907 (via David Rumsey Map Collection)

+ Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Fredericksburg Virginia (via Central Rappahannock Regional Library)

+ St. Louis (Several Dates via U. of Pennsylvania)

+ Rutland, VT (1879)

+ From the Library of Congress
++ Insurance Map of Los Angeles, California (1919)
++ Insurance Maps of Albia, Iowa (1910)
++ Insurance Maps of Williamsburg, James City County, Virginia. (1910)
++ Reno, Nevada (1910)
++ Insurance Maps of Pittsburg [sic], Pennsylvania. Vol. 2. (1893)
++ Tombstone, Arizona (1886)

+ Chicago Stock Yards
+ Brooklyn Land Use Map (note Ebbets Field), mid-right side of map
+ San Diego

See Also: The Rumsey Map Collection Also Contains over 100 Fire, Insurance Maps from Julius Bien and Company.

Sanborn has been providing these and many other types of maps since the mid 19th century. A database of digitized historical Sanborn maps (1867-1970) is a fee-based service from ProQuestCSA. Over 660,000 maps are available for more than 12,000 U.S. cities. NOTE: MANY libraries provide remote access to this database at no charge.

Today, Sanborn is part of Environmental Data Resources.

You can also learn a lot more at Sanborn.com as well as gain access to a few freebies (linked above).

One More Collection
Btw, don't forget to visit an amazing (this is a WOW! collection) of over 1700 historic panoramic maps of U.S. cities and towns:
PANORAMIC MAPS of Cities in the United States and Canada (via American Memory)

See Also: Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
by Chris Nehls, Geostat Center and Department of History, University of Virginia

See Also: The Library of Congress/Sanborn Project that Never Took Place (aka Ended Early)
The goal was to put 1 million historic maps online. From the page:

On June 13, 2000, the Library of Congress terminated its cooperative agreement with EDR Sanborn. The Library of Congress and EDR Sanborn could not come to agreement regarding issues of access and copyright notice for the digital files of the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps.

See Also: Google Maps Adds Terrain View, Replaces Hybrid View
To access a hybrid view, click satellite and then select "show labels." It is turned on by default.

*** Gary is Director of Online Info Resources at Ask.com


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