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Navigating Research at the Map Division: Getting Started at the New York Public Library: Other Resources

Learn methods and strategies, to search for maps at NYPL's Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division.

Non-NYPL Digital Resources

Besides NYPL, many other reputable institutions have fantastic digital collections that you can access online. 

For an extensive list of institutions with digital collections, please review Digital Map Galleries.

  • When searching for maps from other resources, please do verify your sources before using their materials in your research. 

Take a look below to see some highlights of online digital collections and resources that could be useful for your research!

General Map Databases

Library of Congress: 

Library of Congress is a great resource and has an extensive collection of digitized maps. You can either search with a General Maps Search or search by Collections with Filed Maps.

Of note:

  • Sanborn Collection : This collection is extensive, and includes fire insurance maps that extend past New York State. To get to the list of included states, click Sanborn Collection under Map CollectionsCollection ItemsMore Locations
  • Geography & Map Reading Room Page: This site has a number of finding aids and research guides to aid in research at the Library of Congress. To get to from the Library of Congress' main page, click the following: Researchers tab→ Click Learn more about Research and Reference Services.--> Scroll Down to Special Formats and click Geography & Map.


Library of Congress postcard




Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) Map Collection:

The PCLMC collection is housed at the University of Texas at Austin, and is a valuable resource when looking for international maps. While the PCL Map Collection site is no longer being updated, there are about 70,000 scans that are available for use. To access maps from this database, you can either enter through the PCL Map Collection site, or visit the new collections site that integrates all materials from across the university into one site.

Of Note:

  • The scope of the collection includes political maps, shaded relief maps, Tactical Pilotage Charts, and many more. 
  • The collection is extremely useful for looking for and identifying topographic World War II AMS (American Military Service) Maps. 


If accessing through the PCL Map Collection site, make sure to click "PCL Map Collection" to access the full collection. 

Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) Map Collection home page

David Rumsey Map Collection 

The David Rumsey Map Collection contains more than 150,000 maps from the 16th to 21st century. This collection is international in scope, with much of it digitized and available on this site. 

Of Note:

  • Interactive Globes: Under "View Collection," you can click to see the Interactive Globes. These globes have been digitized on a 3D scale, thereby allowing for a realistic, 360 degree viewing, of a globe. 
  • Georeferencer: This application is available under "View Collection." Here, you can see historical maps overlaid on a modern map. 
  • Map Rank: Under "View Collection," this  application allows you to move a "coverage square" on a modern map, in order search for historical maps by location and coverage.


David Rumsey Map Collection home page

Old Maps Online

Old Maps Online has indexed over 500,000 digitized maps from participating institutions (including the Map Division at New York Public Library). The site allows you to search by either typing in the search bar or moving the "coverage square" over the location that you are interested in. You can also zoom in and zoom out, depending on how specific you would like your results to be. (For example, you can zoom out to see results for Hong Kong, or zoom in to see specific results, like Macau - a local area in Hong Kong.)

Of Note:

  • You can narrow your search by clicking "Timeline" and choosing which years you are interested in.
  • When you click on a result, the record will indicate which institution is holding the map.


Old Maps Online Home Page

American Geographical Society Library Digital Map Collection 

From the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the American Geographical Society Library Digital Map Collection holds over 14,000 maps that cover both a national and international scope.

Of Note:

American Geographical Society Library Digital Map Collection Home page


This site offers digital scans and sheet maps and map sets that cover mainly Europe and the Mediterranean. The maps cover 194 countries and are held in about 20 map libraries.

Of note:

  • Under the Search tab, you can either search via Geographic Location or via the name of the holding institution.
  • You can also search by clicking the tab titled Digital Map Libraries and clicking the regions of interest to see a list of what holdings are available.

Cartomundi homepage

NYC-Specific Databases

NYC Oasis

This site contains a large number of community maps for New York City, which can be layered onto the base map. In doing so, this site allows for rich possibilities, in regards to creating new sources of material for analysis. Some examples of datasets that you can add to the map are Zoning and Landmark, Environmental Characteristics, Land Use, Social Services, Education, Housing, and many more. 


NYC Oasis

NYC Then & Now

This application showcases how New York City has visually changed from 1924 to current times, from an aerial view.  When you click on the Layers icon, you can choose which year you are interested in seeing. You have the option to zoom in as well, to see specific neighborhoods and streets. 

Of Note:

  • Choose the "Swipe Layers" icon to compare multiple aerial views from different years. 
  • You can type in a specific address, in the search bar at the top left. 

NYC Then & Now home page

New York City Landmarks

This application is the official map of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The map showcases landmarks (individual, interior, and scenic) and Historical Districts in New York City. You can either search by address, or by the name of the landmark itself. Make sure to utilize the Marble Icon or the Magnifying Icon when searching.

Of Note:

  • When clicking on a landmark, you will find additional information, such as reports, photos, construction date, architect, and style.

NYC historical landmarks home page

Center for Brooklyn History at Brooklyn Public Library

At the Center for Brooklyn History, they have digitized maps from Brooklyn Historical Society's collection. These maps span from the 17th century to today, and depict both New York City and beyond. You can either do a keyword search or search by specific topic.

Of Note:

  • If you have a Brooklyn Public Library Card, you can also utilize their database, Fire Insurance Maps Online (FIMO). This database is extensive in terms of years, and is in color. 

Center for Brooklyn History at Brooklyn Public Library map collection page

New York City's Zoning & Land Use Map

This application is run by NYC Planning, and is a great resource for gaining more knowledge about zoning regulations in the city. When you click on a particular zone, you have the option to learn more about that particular zones and its regulations. When you click on a particular zone, you also have the option to "Fit map to all [district name] districts." If you click that, the map will reorient itself to show all areas that are under the same zoning regulations.

Of Note:

  • You can search by Block and Lot.
  • You can add additional layers of data onto the zoning map, from the left panel. 


New York City's Zoning & Land Use Map portal page

Population FactFinder

This application is operated by NYC Planning, and is useful for learning more about the demographics of New York City neighborhoods. You can find data based on Census Tract, Neighborhood Tabulation Area, Community District Tabulation Area, Community District, Census Block, borough, or the city as a whole. 

Of Note: 

  • You can click "Add Map Layers" to have a base map that reflects other forms of data besides streets. For example, some of the map layers include "Thematic Maps" and "Subways." By changing the base map, you can analyze the demographic data alongside the base map's data. 

Population FactFinder portal page

NYC Streets: A Guide to Former Street Names in Manhattan

While not a map, this guide is very useful when conducting research on New York City's past. As Manhattan was developing, the names of streets were also changing. As such, you can use this guide to track former street names from documents, as well as connect former street names with their modern counterparts. 

Of Note:

  • Besides Manhattan, the site also has a section regarding Honorary Streets throughout the five boroughs. These are names that are often the subtitle of the primary street-name. Often, these names are used to honor individuals.

NYC City Map

As noted on their website, "NYCityMap is New York City’s online map portal. The application provides a wealth of information including the locations of schools, day care centers, senior centers, libraries, hospitals, subways, and more, as well as links to Web sites for these facilities. This page is also a single access point to many of the numerous location-based applications on such as online property, building, statistics, and census information. The maps can be navigated either by entering a specific address or simply using zoom and scroll tools, similar to other online map applications."

Of note:

  • To use effectively, we do recommend reviewing the User Manual that covers how to do different types of searches within this portal.

nyc city map portal

New York State-Specific Databases

The New York State Library and New York State Archives

Please note that while the New York State Library and New York State Archives have different websites, they both utilize the same digital catalog. This can be accessed by clicking "NYS Library Catalog" on the New York State Library Home Page. 

Of Note:

New York State Library: 

  • NYS Library Catalog: Shared with New York State Archives, and contains bibliographic records of material held at the library. Please note that not all items are listed in this online catalog. 
  • New York State Library Digital Collections: This collection holds digitized New York State publications and historical material from the 18th to 20th century.

New York State Archives:

  • NYS Library Catalog: Shared with New York State Library, and holds summary descriptions of record series or collections in the archives. 
  • New York State Archives Digital Collections: Contains digitized material from the archives. You can browse, or search in a collection via "Featured Topics" or "Exhibits."
  • Finding Aids: You can search to see if there are any archival collections that are relevant to your research, via the Finding Aid Search. If so, the finding aid will provide the scope of the collection and detailed descriptions of what it contains. 

New York State Library home page

New York Heritage Digital Collections

This collection holds a number of digitized materials focuses on the history of New York State, specifically. Materials are made available by participating libraries and institutions. To find maps, you can either:

  • Do a key word search
  • Click "Collections" > Under Collection Type on the left panel, click "Maps"
  • Scroll to the bottom and click "Browse All Types" under Browse Collections by Categories> Click Maps

Of Note

Each collection will include historical context of the material contained within, as well indicate which institution currently holds the item. 

New York Heritage Digital Collections home page

Geological and Environmental Databases

For an extensive listing of resources related to geology and the environment, please view this listing of resources at Geology Maps, Nautical Charts, Topo Maps on the Web.

Click the tabs to get an in-depth look at highlighted resources.


This site is run by the United States Geographical Society, who has been creating topographical maps of the United States since 1879. The application allows you to see and compare all the topographical maps created for specific towns and cities in the United States. As such, if you are looking to see how an area has physically changed over a period of time, reviewing these maps are a great insight into the changing landscape. 

Of Note: 

  • When you click on a map of interest, click "Show" and you can see the topographical map overlaid on the modern map. 
  • When you click on a map of interest, click "Info" and you can see important metadata associated with the map, that can be pertinent to understanding the details.
  • All maps are downloadable in various file formats. 



Topoview home page

National Centers for Environmental Information: Maps

This organization hosts a number of useful environmental datasets, that are visualized on map applications. These datasets include information on marine sciences, climate monitoring, geosystems and natural resources, and natural hazards/disasters, 

Of Note:

  • Check out the Story Maps at the bottom of the page! These Story Maps presents datasets with supplementary materials to create a narrative around specified themes. These are especially useful if you are starting research into these types of datasets.

National Centers for Environmental Information: Maps home page

National Water Dashboard

This application is run by the United States Geological Survey, and allows you to add water-related data as "layers" onto a contemporary map of the United States. Layers include USGS Stations (different types of water levels, water quality, and flows of water), weather conditions, and hydrology (rivers, watersheds, aquifiers).

Of Note:

  • You can add multiple layers of data at the same time- thereby allowing for analysis between the different sets of data. You can also zoom in and out, based on your area of interest.
  • You can change the base map to reflect different types of representations of the land (i.e. street map, aerial imagery, etc.).


National Water Dashboard portal page

Plant Hardiness Zone Map

This application is run by the United States Department of Agriculture, and is a useful tool in understanding what plants are able to thrive in various parts of the country. 

Of Note: 

  • Typically, when you buy a plant, its zone will be indicated on the tag.
  • You can type in a zip code or address into the search bar, to locate specific areas that are pertinent to your research. 

Plant Hardiness Zone Map portal page

Databases that combine maps with other types of material


OldNYC georeferences digitized photographs from the NYPL Collection onto a contemporary map of New York City. Click on any red dot to pull up images that were taken from those street corners!

Of Note:

  • Click on an image, and it will take you to its record in our NYPL Digital Collection!
  • This resource is really useful if you are doing building research. If comparing photographs with insurance maps around the same time, you can gain a better understanding of what buildings were there and what life was like for the time period that you are researching.

Oldnyc portal page

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

This application is managed by the Newberry Library. Click on a state, and click on the date of a border change. In doing so, you can see the change of boundaries from that date, as well as a description of the border change and effective dates. 

Of Note: 

  • This resource is useful when conducting genealogical research. As boundaries are constantly changing, where records are held can be affected by those changes. To know what the boundary lines are can help inform where you can find your records for your research. 

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries home page

Sanborn Maps Navigator

This application is managed by the Library of Congress, and aims to link the Sanborn Insurance Maps with randomly selected historical newspapers of those represented areas. You can choose either the state or specific counties to see the associated maps and newspapers.

Of Note:

  • This resource is useful in gaining a better understanding of the headlines of the day, by analyzing with the maps of the time period. By comparing the two, you can have a better sense of how life was, during that time period and in that area.

Sanborn Maps Navigator home page