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Old maps from years past?

Started by Vipervenom, July 17, 2023, 02:07:18 PM

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Wondering if anyone has idea where I might find maps from years ago, something that would show old buildings and houses locations.


Old maps of what region? I offer a USGS Historical Topo Map with full coverage of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachussets, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia with partial coverage of Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan. It was made from the oldest maps that the USGS has in their archives. They started creating topo maps in 1879, the oldest one in this collection is from 1884. It's a composite made from 1,900 separate quadrangles stictched together into a seamless map. More than half of them are over 100 years old. Houses and buildings are shown in some areas but not others.

Use my web app here, it's free, works on any device, there are no ads and no registration.

I also have a USGS Legacy Topo which covers the same area and consists of the newer 24k topo maps. But these would also qualify as "old maps" because the USGS began winding them down in 1990 and completely phased them out by 2000. I used the newest versions available, but most are still pretty old. There are a total of about 7,500 individual quads in this map, and 4,500 of them are at least 50 years old. The 24k topo maps are pretty good at showing houses and other buildings.

Now, I have a number of historical topo maps from the Southern New Jersey region where I live. This one is interesting, it dates back to around 1885. The little trees are not just decorative, they indicate which areas were forested and the type of trees (coniferous or deciduous).

I also have topo maps of the same Southern New Jersey region from 1870, 1889, 1890 and 1949. If you go to the link above, just click the map menu and you will see them listed. But these only cover a small area and have a more limited audience.

There are a lot of other map resources on my site, including historical aerial imagery for some areas. New York City has some very cool aerials from 1924, for example

New Jersey has aerial imagery from the 1930's covering the whole state

There are also aerials of the Jersey Shore from the 1920's

If none of these cover the areas you're looking for, you can try the USGS Historical Topo Map Explorer. It will show what historical maps are available for any location in the US, but it's not a "seamless" map like the ones on my site, they are scanned copies of individual paper maps that you can download.