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!
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.
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.
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:
- On the collection website, there are essays that dive into the history of panoramic mapping and prolific map artists and publishers of note.
- One of the most fascinating items in this collection is Pictorial St. Louis; The Great Metropolis of the Mississippi Valley, a 1875 pictorial atlas depicting St. Louis across more than 100 map sheets. Geography and Map Division Reference Specialist Julie Stoner recently profiled this incredibly detailed atlas, which has its own interactive index, here in Worlds Revealed.
- A recent guest blog post by Robert Morris, Acquisitions Specialist in the Geography and Map Division, provides another great overview of the Panoramic Maps Collection.
- In another recent post, Meagan Snow, Geospatial Data Visualization Librarian in the Geography and Map Division, profiles the accomplished late-19th century lithographer John Bachmann and showcases his stunning panoramic maps.