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New Interactive Map Showcases the Panoramic Maps Collection

The Panoramic Maps Collection, one of our most popular collections, features more than a thousand beautifully illustrated “bird’s-eye-view” maps of towns and cities across the United States, Canada, and even some internationally. To celebrate this collection, we are excited to launch View from Above: Exploring the Panoramic Map Collection, an interactive map that makes browsing and discovering maps in the collection easier and more fun!

Screenshot of View from Above web map with clusters of maps shown on basemap of US.

Screenshot shows the standard view of the “View from Above” web map application.

Created in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, the maps of the Panoramic Maps Collection offer sweeping historical views of towns and cities big and small. These maps, which include items housed in the Geography and Map Division and Prints and Photographs Division, show their locales from above at an oblique angle and are generally not drawn to scale. The purpose of many of these maps, which were often funded by local chambers of commerce, was to put a community’s “best foot forward” and promote an area for business investment and new residents. The vibrancy of these maps certainly convey an emphasis on civic pride.

Panoramic map of Phoenix with street grid, buildings, mountains in background and illustrations of local buildings on map collar.

Bird’s eye view of Phoenix, Maricopa Co., Arizona. C.J. Dyer, 1885. Geography and Map Division.

The View from Above web application was developed by Rachel Trent, Meagan Snow, and Tim St. Onge of the Geography and Map Division. The application spatially locates the towns and cities shown in each map and group them in clusters for legibility. Users can select clusters to see a listing of maps in a certain area and browse through them, or zoom in closer to select individual maps. Selecting an individual point shows you a preview image of the map and links to see the fully digitized map on our website. Users can also search for locations using a search bar and download a full listing of maps. The application automatically updates when new maps are added to the collection.

Screenshot of web map with cluster point on New York City selected.

Screenshot shows the “View from Above” web map application when a dynamically-created cluster of maps, such as this one on New York City, is selected.

Screenshot of web map's New York City cluster selected, revealing thumbnail image of 1851 panoramic map.

Screenshot shows the “View from Above” web map application map from the cluster’s map list is selected to reveal a thumbnail image of the map and links to see it on our website.

In addition to browsing through the collection in View from Above, there is a wide array of Library of Congress resources available online for learning more about this fascinating collection:

One Comment

  1. Mary PEDLEY
    December 15, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    Congratulations on this interactive tool!
    Viewers of this exhibit may be interested in a similar exhibit of the bird’s eye view holdings in the William Clements Library at the University of Michigan:
    https://clements.umich.edu/exhibit/birdseye-views/

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