04/07/13 258 W, 1 I - + 18 - 13 UPDATED: Digital Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

April 2013
These instructions were originally posted in October 2008. Then they became obsolete, as access to the maps was apparently removed. The maps are back, and the below posting has updated. If you have a Wake County library card, these are some great resources for historical exploration. (Yes, you can also see digital Sanborn Maps on the North Carolina Maps site, but only those made before 1923. That said, they are in color, which was their original format. Both sites are good.)
October 2008
Sanborn Fire Insurances Maps, one of the best tools for urban historians and particulary urban fire historians, are available online for Wake County library patrons. To access the collection of North Carolina maps, visit this Wake Counties Libraries research page. Click the link for View Full List of Databases. Enter your library card number and PIN. Scroll down to Sanborn Maps North Carolina. Click that link and you're good to go! And here's a tip. Once you've reached the map viewer window, click Download to see a full-page map sheet.

Sanborn Map, Raleigh, 1909

Maps are available online for 162 communities in 83 of North Carolina's 100 counties. Most cities and towns were surveyed several times over several decades between the 1880s and the 1950s. Best of all is the ample information about fire departments, building construction, life hazards, and water supplies. Learn more about Sanborn Maps. Or read a series of articles by Yours Truly, presenting "then and now" information about fire departments, as based on Sanborn Map information.

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