Tag Archives: historic maps

Friday’s Find – Historical Maps of Pittsburgh PA

Last week’s Friday’s Find was historical maps of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This week we move across the state to a site hosted by the University of Pittsburgh that has a great collection of historical maps of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and vicinity. Check it out here.

The format of the maps at this site is quite a bit different than the layered maps of Philadelphia, but the content is (I think) equally as useful. For my own research, I was focusing on the City of Pittsburgh Geodetic and Topographic Survey Maps. I was trying to locate the street where my husband’s great-grandfather lived when he was naturalized in the early 1920s. Not being familiar with Pittsburgh, I was not having very much luck. The street was not showing up on current maps, so I suspected that it was either renamed or closed down.

As it turns out, I was able to find the street on the older maps on the University of Pittsburgh site. Then, by comparing the older maps to newer ones, I was able to determine that the neighborhood where the street was located was subsumed by the expansion of the J&L Steel plant. This lead me to search the area newspapers and I was able to find an article describing the expansion. (The article, however, did not name any of the condemned streets by name.)  In my case these maps were key in helping me find the information I was seeking.

So the Pittsburgh maps are my Friday Find for this week. Hopefully someone else might find them as useful as I did!

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Friday’s Find – Historic Philadelphia, PA Maps

I was recently trying to geographically analyze census data from the mid to late 1800s. More specifically, I was looking at various families of the same surname who were living in the city of Philadelphia. I was trying to get a feel for the proximity of the various neighborhoods in which they lived and potentially a better feel for their relative socio-economic status. The problem was that I was unfamiliar with the neighborhoods and their locations within the city.

I was finally able to find an incredible mapping site that is almost too good to be true! The site is  The Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network. On the site is an Interactive Maps Viewer tool. It contains various historic maps of Philadelphia and is designed such that they can be overlaid with a semi-transparent current Philadelphia streets map!

The map viewer works much like any graphics software that supports layers. In this case each layer is one of the maps. You are able to toggle the visibility of each layer/map independently as well as adjust it’s transparency with a slider control. You can also drag the various layers/maps up or down the stack.

The maps are very high-resolution, so you can zoom in close and see the details. In fact, the only drawback could be the load time if you have a slow internet connection. If you’re looking for historic Philadelphia maps, this is definitely a resource worth checking out.