175,000 U.S. Historical Maps–Now Online!

More than 175,000 historical topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are now available on ArcGIS Online. For over 130 years, the USGS has prepared these detailed maps to accurately show the complex geography of the nation. Maps cover the extent of the United States and show diverse landscapes from that of the sub-tropical climate of Highlands, TX, near Houston to the maritime climate of Barnstable, MA, on coastal Cape Cod.

Highlands, Texas, 1912
Highlands, Texas, 1912

Barnstable, Massachusetts, 1888
Barnstable, Massachusetts, 1888

In the past, these maps have been available primarily as printed lithographic copies and more recently as a free, downloadable GeoPDF. Users with an ArcGIS Online subscription may now access the historical maps as high resolution georeferenced raster images for use in ArcGIS and web mapping applications. Published U.S. maps of all scales and all editions are available. View An Introduction to the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection story map to learn more about this collection and USA Historical Topo web map to get started.

Historical maps are an important resource as they provide the long-term record and documentation of the natural, physical, and cultural landscape. The history documented by this collection and the analysis of distribution and spatial patterns is invaluable throughout the science and non-science disciplines. Genealogists, historians, educators, anthropologists, archeologists and others may use this collection for research as well as for a framework on which a myriad of information can be presented in relation to the landscape. Educators and students can use these maps to explore how a place is shaped by nature and humans and learn about and experience their own community history. Planners can see what used to be a natural water flow now changed by an earthquake, flood, or a manmade structure. A person can see what development changes have taken place since the map was created, or simply notice what used to be a lake and is now dried up. There are numerous uses possible by scientists, engineers, urban planners, historians, and travelers alike.

The following three maps illustrate the development of Phoenix, AZ, from just after incorporation in 1881 through population surges due to tourism and retirement communities.  View an online version of the maps here.

1912 Map of Phoenix, AZ
1912 Map (Scale 1:62,500)       1910 Population: 11,314

1952 Map of Phoenix, AZ
1952 Map (Scale 1:62,500)       1950 Population: 106,818

1952 Map of Phoenix, AZ
1981-1994 Maps (Scale 1:100,000)       1980 Population: 789,704

According to the most recent census, the population of the City of Phoenix is more than 1.4 million people. Phoenix is the largest state capitol in the United States.

Population statistics from…

Phoenix, Arizona. (2014, April 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Phoenix,_Arizona&oldid=605023622

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