Sanborn fire insurance maps
Sanborn fire insurance maps provide detailed building information of historic value.
Table of Contents
Sanborn Map Overview
Fire insurance maps are detailed plans (scales usually 1:600 or 1:1,200 – 50 or 100 feet to an inch) showing:
- Building footprints
- Building material by color (adobe, brick, frame, metal)
- Height or number of stories
- Doors, windows, chimneys, elevators
- Address and lot lines
- Use (dwelling, hotel, church, chicken coop, etc.)
- Street widths, water pipes, hydrants and cisterns
- Ethnicity of the occupants (occasionally), etc.
While originally produced for insurance purposes, the maps are now useful in disciplines such as history, architectural history, ethnic studies, and urban archaeology.
- An overview of the Sanborn keys and colors is provided by the Library of Congress, see: http://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps/about-this-collection/
- For a more complete description, plus list of digital collections of Sanborn maps, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanborn_Maps
Sanborn maps held at Branner Library
In Searchworks, enter “insurance fire” as subject terms, and limit to map/globe. The link here will pull up over 200 records of paper and/or microfilm maps. We have scanned all of the maps that are out of copyright. We have created an interactive index for as many of the sets as possible. You can access them at this link.
Paper maps have the great advantage of being in color, so you can enjoy the full functionality and beauty of the originals. Some digital maps, in color, are also available via http://www.davidrumsey.com.
Union List of Sanborn & other fire insurance maps
Fire insurance maps have been scanned and available for a number of states. The list here gives an overview from each state. The list to the left highlights specific states including California, Hawaii, Nevada, and New York.
California Sanborn Maps
Sanborn Maps online interactive index viewer
Interactive index maps have been created for many of our sets leading you directly to the scan with the ability to download the images. Access the index at this link.
California Sanborn Maps online database
Stanford affiliates can view uncolored Sanborn maps from 1867-1970 via a Proquest database.
San Francisco Genealogy
SF Genealogy has scanned maps of San Francisco from 1899-1900.
David Rumsey Map Collection
David Rumsey has scanned the 1905 Sanborn Insurance Atlas (pre-earthquake).