One of the most valuable sources for monitoring and viewing urban change is the fire insurance maps that were published in the 19th century. These maps were drawn at the scale of 1 inch = 50 feet (later, 1 inch = 100 feet), which allowed very specific details such as building dimensions and the type of construction (frame, brick, stone).
We hold fire insurance maps for Boston from 1867 to 1992 and Cambridge from 1873 to 1992 from a variety of firms, as well as maps for other New England cities.
The Harvard Library subscribes to the Digital Sanborn Maps, which is available to all Harvard affiliates (login required).
Accessing These Materials
You can find all our fire insurance atlases in HOLLIS.
Harvard Map Collection