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Maps and GIS

How to find and use maps and other geospatial resources at Pratt and beyond.

Introduction to Sanborn Maps

The Sanborn Map Company has published detailed building maps of more than 12,000 towns and cities in the United States. These maps were primarily used by fire insurance companies, but have also been used by local government agencies. The name "Sanborn" has become synonymous with this kind of map, even though other companies have produced them. 

Sanborn Maps detail building footprints, materials, uses, and other details including the locations of windows and outbuildings. The maps also include street and sidewalk widths, street names, and house numbers. Originally created to assess fire risks for insurance companies, the maps are now a rich source for urban history. The maps are a valuable resource for researching local history, urban planning, and changing neighborhoods. 

To learn more about Sanborn Maps, you can read this great guide from the Library of Congress.

How to Use Sanborn Maps

Map Index

This is the index page, also called a graphical index or map key. Use this page to find the region of Brooklyn you are looking for. The number in the index will show you which volumbe of Sanborn Maps to use.

Sanborn Printed Maps Inventory

Rather than publish a new atlas each time there were changes, the company would update the maps by pasting corrections in the atlases. In our inventory, you will see the original date the atlas was published, as well as the most recent correction. 

Recent Digital Sanborn Maps

We provide access to more recent Sanborn maps digitally via Sanborn WebGIS (see link below) and on select computers in the library - look for monitors with little purple signs that say, "Sanborn Maps Available Here." You can access the maps from the globe desktop icon called "Map Search Engine." We have maps from Brooklyn and Manhattan from 2006-2012.

Digitized Historical Sanborn Maps


Historic Sanborn Maps for New York and New Jersey are available via FiMO (Fire Insurance Maps Online. Maps range from 1867-1970, depending on availability. The maps are searchable by address and GPS coordinates. Access is available through the link below. If you are off-campus, you'll need to enter your oneKey.

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