Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Sanborn fire insurance maps were produced by the Sanborn Map Company to provide accurate, current, and detailed information to the fire insurance industry for risk assessment purposes. Between 1867 and 1970, the Company mapped over 12,000 U.S. towns. The maps were revised periodically in order to be accurate and suitable for the intended use. This series of revisions provide the historical researcher with an invaluable series of neighborhood snapshots.

The maps typically show a bird’s eye view of a community at the scale of one inch to fifty feet. At this scale, it is possible to show each building in outline. The original maps were color encoded to indicate each building’s exterior construction material.
A complex set of symbols – initials, numerals, an assortment of lines, circles, and squares – are used to describe a building’s use, composition, and appearance.

Digital Sanborn Maps was created from ProQuest Information and Learning’s microfilm collection of 660,000 Sanborn Maps, which were filmed from the Library of Congress’ collection. It is owned by ProQuest, LLC, and is protected by copyright and other laws that recognize the rights of copyright holders. Access is available to authorized users at subscribing institutions only and therefore limited to members of the Cornell community.

Cornell Library Holdings

Sanborn Map Holdings

Many of the Sanborn holdings are available online through the Digital Sanborn Maps collection. There are also many holdings on microfilm that may or may not be included in the online collection. 

Entire United States

  • 1867 – 1970. Coverage varies by place. Available online.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist provides a searchable database of the fire insurance maps published by the Sanborn Map Company housed in the Library of Congress Sanborn Collections. The online checklist is based upon the Library's 1981 publication Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress and is continually updated.

District of Columbia



New York State

New York City – includes Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhatten, Queens, Staten Island


Reference Assistant