Historic Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps as a GIS layer

Gathering historic spatial information about cities can be a difficult task when researching issues such as street changes or previous land use for a single site, and nearly impossible for larger neighborhoods. Even if the data is gathered, it is rarely in a geospatial ready dataset and usually comes from different sources. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps illustrate the size, shape, and construction material of dwellings, commercial buildings, and factories. Details include fire walls, windows and doors, style and composition of roofs, wall thickness, cracks in exterior walls, and elevators. They also indicate building use, sidewalk and street widths, layout and names, property boundaries, distance between buildings, house and block numbers, location of water mains, hydrants, piping, wells, cisterns, and fuel storage tanks all while being drawn at a 50 feet to an inch and in one source. The intricate details they show for buildings, properties and streets are now useful in disciplines such as history, architectural history, ethnic studies, environmental impacts, gentrification, and urban archaeology.

They can now be integrated into your existing GIS as base layers or viewed in a web map for easy research of the growth and change of any of the over 12,000 towns and cities that have been mapped since 1867 to 2020.

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