Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
Fire insurance maps preserve detailed records of locations lost to history.
Towards the end of the 18th century, surveyors began to systematically map cities for fire insurance companies. These firms—founded in the wake of the 1666 Great Fire of London—needed detailed information about the buildings they insured. The mapping industry grew following the 1850 invention of lithographic printing, which made fire insurance atlases cheaper and easier to produce.
In 1867, Massachusetts surveyor D.A. Sanborn completed this fire insurance map of Boston, drawn at a scale of 50 feet to one inch (15.24 meters to 2.5 centimeters). Over the next century, the Sanborn Map Company would produce more than 50,000 maps documenting 12,000 American cities and towns. Housed at archives across the United States, Sanborn’s fire insurance maps reveal the geographies and peculiarities of place that defined Americans’ lives for generations.
- Title : Insurance Map of Boston, Volume 1
- Author : D.A. Sanborn
- Credits : Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division
- Formats : Map