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The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collection consists of a uniform
series of some fifty thousand large-scale maps dating from 1867 to 1950
(with regularly updated corrections which appear as various shades of
gray) These maps depict the commercial, industrial and residential
sections of some twelve thousand cities and towns in the United States,
Canada, and Mexico at the individual property level.
Because they were designed to assist fire insurance agents in
evaluating the degree of hazard associated with a building, the maps
show windows, doors, walls, sprinkler systems, roofs, etc., as well as
streets, boundaries, building use, water mains, hydrants, and fire
alarm boxes--any information useful in setting insurance rates.
These maps are a unique source of information about buildings in
American cities, a record of the urban history of the United States.
In 1981, the Library of Congress published Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress: Plans of North American Cities and Towns produced by the Sanborn Map Company
(Microtext Rm. HG 9771.L53 1981), which describes and indexes the
entire collection of some 700,000 maps produced by the Sanborn Map
For more information about the Sanborn Maps, libraries around the
country that maintain collections of these maps, and information on
obtaining copyright permission to use the maps, see the UC Berkeley
Library web page, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.
Vassar owns the sets of maps for:
District of Columbia