NY Public Library puts 20,000 high-res historical maps online for free

The New York Public Library has just posted 20,000 high-resolution maps, and other cartographical historical records dating from the 1600s, online, for free.

It’s totally fun. I spent two hours last night going through and downloading them.

It’s easy to do. Just go and create an account, then start browsing. They walk you through the project in some detail, if you’re interested.

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Here’s more from the Library on what they did and how they did it. Note the reference to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. That’s one of those programs that Congress keeps on trying to kill.

A little background on how we got here… We’ve been scanning maps for about 15 years, both as part of the NYPL’s general work but mostly through grant funded projects like the 2001 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded American Shores: Maps of the MidAtlantic to 1850, the 2004 Institute of Museums and Library Science (IMLS) funded Building a Globally Distributed Historical Sheet Map Set and the 2010 NEH funded New York City Historical GIS.

Through these projects, we’ve built up a great collection of: 1,100 maps of the Mid-Atlantic United States and cities from the 16th to 19th centuries, mostly drawn from the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection; a detailed collection of more than 700 topographic maps of the Austro-Hungarian empire created between 1877 and 1914; a collection of 2,800 maps from state, county and city atlases (mostly New York and New Jersey); a huge collection of more than 10,300 maps from property, zoning, topographic, but mostly fire insurance atlases of New York City dating from 1852 to 1922; and an incredibly diverse collection of more than 1,000 maps of New York City, its boroughs and neighborhoods, dating from 1660 to 1922, which detail transportation, vice, real estate development, urban renewal, industrial development and pollution, political geography among many, many other things.

We in the Map Division are all very excited about this release and look forward to seeing these maps in works of art, historical publications, movies, archaeological reports, novels, environmental remediation efforts, urban planning studies and more… Enjoy!

And here are a bunch of interesting maps and pages of book that I downloaded. A lot of them, if not all of them, are from the 1600s and 1700s. How totally cool.

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I threw an old map of France from around 1700 in there too.

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Americas-by-france-510d47db-b208-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

US-by-france8db5ad4f-cba8-3fa5-e040-e00a180625acx

US-by-france8db5ad4f-cba8-3fa5-e040-e00a180625ac

Eastern-US-by-Francew510d47df-f8df-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99x

Eastern-US-by-Francew510d47df-f8df-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • gratuitous

    Oops, I didn’t mean to poach on your anticipated post. Perhaps if you learned to type faster, so you could make your dimwit observations before someone with an ounce of sense beats you to it. By five hours.

  • cfs1953

    You might want to consider changing your moniker from “gratuitous” to “self-styled liberal athiest bigot”. You just couldn’t resist dragging politics and religion into a perfectly benign subject about historic New York maps. What an ass.

  • gratuitous

    High resolution maps for free?! Have the Tea Baggers been informed of this rampant socialism? TOTALLY unamerican!

    And now, I have to tell the boss that I can’t do any work today, because I have a new dealer for my old map addiction. Thanks heaps.

    I wonder how long it will take our nitwit creationist friends to seize on these old maps as “proof” that the Earth is much younger? Look at what used to be (thought of as) the Gulf of California!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Dammit, I have to work today! I adore those old maps…

  • Indigo

    Nice.

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