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Thread: Sanborn Maps

  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999

    Sanborn Maps

    The mention of Sanborn maps in the McCrackin Distillery thread seemed to beg for a further explanation of what these remarkable maps are. Not limited to the whiskey industry, Sanborn maps were produced for over a century (1867-1970) by the Sanborn Map Company. More than 660,000 Sanborn maps chart the growth and development of more than 12,000 American towns and cities. Sanborn maps are large-scale plans of a city, town or commercial facility (like a distillery), drawn at a scale of 50 feet to an inch. They were created to assist fire insurance companies as they assessed the risk associated with insuring a particular property. The maps list street blocks and building numbers including numbers in use at the time the map was made, and previous numbers.

    I have seen many of the distillery maps and the originals are works of art. Individually hand made, they are color-coded with the shapes of buildings and other structures cut out from color paper and afixed to the maps. At the scale described above, the map for a large distillery would cover a wall.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Sanborn Maps

    Sanborn maps are one of the primary sources for tracing the use and "footprint" of historic architecture and of urban form. In my work (urban design) we regularly compare maps of different eras (they were typically updated every 10-20 years) to trace the evolution of construction/destruction of neighborhoods. There are often eye-opening uses from less than a century ago, such as livery stables and hay lofts in the middle of a city center, that remind us just how young is our automobile age.

    Roger - horses made great designated drivers - Hodges

  3. #3

    Re: Sanborn Maps

    I obtained 2 copys on CD of any early Sanborn Map of a town I used to live in. I promptly sold one to the town itself for $50 and used the other to plot old businesses. When a new building was about to be erected on an interesting site I would show up and watch the excavation and retrive artifacts. I made quite a haul when they dug up the old bottling works property that had been vacant for over 50 years and built condos. Smilindave



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