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The Project: Reading a Sanborn Map part (b)

This is the fourth post in a series addressing digital scholarship in business and economic history related to Library of Congress collections. Read the first postsecond post, and third post.

In my last post, I talked about how I started to learn to read a Sanborn map. I left out one last piece of advice.

I chose a Sanborn map series for an area I’m familiar with, my hometown. But, navigating Sanborn maps of a place I don’t know is trickier: how do I know what I’m looking at?

Both Sanborn maps and current maps (print or web-based) include major relatively unchanging features like railroads and rivers. I pull up a Sanborn map sheet and a present-day web-based map side-by-side. When I see a railroad or river on the Sanborn map, I look for the same railroad or river on the present-day web map. Cross referencing the two maps this way increases my understanding of the Sanborn map’s geography. As well, I can contrast what the area around the railroad/river was like versus what it is like today. The images below illustrate what I mean.

In this first image, the Key for the 1899 Atlanta Sanborn maps, notice the railroads dissecting the city. (Interactive image here.)

Key for Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. Sanborn Map Company, 1899.

I zoomed in on the interactive image of the Key to capture screenshots of the railroad junction in the center of the page, and Oakland Cemetery to the center right. Compare these screenshots to what I pulled from Google maps.

Screenshot of a railroad junction shown on the Key to Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. Sanborn Map Company, 1899.

Screenshot from Google Maps of railroad and Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. April 23, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted more details as to what was in the yellow highlighted section, Sheet 3. Go take a look and come back.
There was the round house, freight depot, Presbyterian church, a candy factory, Young Men’s Library, The American Steam Laundry…
That piece of land became Centennial Olympic Park as Atlanta prepared to host the 1996 Olympic Games.

Screenshot of Oakland Cemetery and Sheet 61 shown on the Key to Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. Sanborn Map Company, 1899.

Screenshot from Google Maps of Oakland Cemetery and the land plot corresponding to Sanborn Map Sheet 61, in Atlanta, Georgia. April 23, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, I got curious about what Sheet 61 would reveal. Go take a look and come back.
The Hebrew Orphan House sat on a block within the bounds of Oakland Cemetery.
Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills was redeveloped into Fulton Cotton Mill Loft Apartments.

Digital collections like the Sanborn maps and tools like Google maps make this kind of research and comparison more accessible. What history and change do you find?

The Project: Reading a Sanborn Map at the Library part (a)

This is the third post in a series addressing digital scholarship in business and economic history related to Library of Congress collections. Read the first post and the second post. I have been making steady, if slow, progress on the next steps I outlined in my last post. identifying a place to focus on which will […]

Endangered Business Data

What is endangered business data? It can probably mean a lot of things, but what comes to my mind first is this: business information and data sets that are inaccessible, nonexistent, or in danger of becoming so. For example, there could be gaps in coverage, print sets lost, microform copies decomposing or unreadable without proper […]

The Project: Mapping Business History with LC Collections

This is the second post in a series addressing digital scholarship in business and economic history related to Library of Congress collections. Read the first post here. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how to begin tackling the many questions I posed in my first post. I read blogs (The Signal‘s excellent ”Digital Scholarship Resource […]

Business ‘Collections as Data’?

In July 2017, I attended the second Collections as Data event hosted by National Digital Initiatives/LC Labs at the Library of Congress. The event featured speakers who are using digital collections and data to work in their communities. Kate Zwaard gave an opening talk that deftly describes “computation applied to library collections when computers were people […]