I recently was able to see a map of my neighborhood and house (which was built in 1928) as it appeared in 1929! The maps were created during the middle of the development of my neighborhood, so about 2/3 of the current houses are missing. It’s interesting to see. If your city manager or department head, or your friend, needs to see the way things were as their cities or neighborhoods developed, this is a valuable resource!
How did I see those? At the recent SoCalGIS meeting held at CSUN, we were given a tour of the map library, which turns out to have a repository of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the Western US dating back to the 1800′s! What is a Sanborn map?
The Sanborn Maps were originally created for assessing fire insurance liability in urbanized areas in the United States. The maps include detailed information regarding town and building information in approximately 12,000 U.S. towns and cities from 1867 to 2007. Author Kim Keister describes the legacy of Sanborn maps: “Stated simply, the Sanborn maps survive as a guide to American urbanization that is unrivaled by other cartography and, for that matter, by few documentary resources of any kind.”They are a highly useful resource for historical research, planning, preservation, genealogical research, sociological studies and research of urban geography.
For details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanborn_Maps
So I immediately asked for the flat maps of my neighborhood (Montrose, CA) and started to enjoy going back in time.
Check out the high resolution version of the commercial area: Full resolution (zipped .jpg file)