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Friday Eye Candy: New York Public Library Releases Thousands of Historic Maps to the Public

“For the historic cartographile, Christmas may have come late, but here it is,” writes Daniel Stuckey.
April 4, 2014, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Matt Knutzen announces that the New York Public Library (NYPL) recently released over 20,000 cartographic works from the NYPL's Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division to the public…for free, high resolution download…under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

“We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions,” says a blog post by Knutzen on the NYPL website.

Among the maps released to the public: “1,100 maps of the Mid-Atlantic United States and cities from the 16th to 19th centuries, mostly drawn from the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection; a detailed collection of more than 700topographic maps of the Austro-Hungarian empire created between 1877 and 1914; a collection of 2,800 maps from state, county and city atlases (mostly New York and New Jersey); a huge collection of more than10,300 maps from property, zoning, topographic, but mostly fire insurance atlases of New York City dating from 1852 to 1922; and an incredibly diverse collection of more than 1,000 maps of New York City, its boroughs and neighborhoods, dating from 1660 to 1922, which detail transportation, vice, real estate development, urban renewal, industrial development and pollution, political geography among many, many other things.”

"It means you can have the maps, all of them if you want, for free, in high resolution. We’ve scanned them to enable their use in the broadest possible ways by the largest number of people."

Writing for Motherboard, Daniel Stuckey provides further insight on how someone with an interest in historic maps might make use of this bounty: “Combined with its existing historical GIS program, the NYPL wants its users to engage with the maps, and allows them to warp (fitting together based on corresponding anchor points) and overlay the historic maps with modern geoweb services like Google and Open Street Map.”

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Published on Friday, March 28, 2014 in New York Public Library
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