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Detroit Map Resources

Guide to finding map resources of Detroit and southeastern Michigan.


Beginning in 1867, the Sanborn Map Company produced its fire insurance maps to provide uniform and detailed information about the built environment to insurance companies for the purposes of risk assessment. These large-scale color maps, indicate the dimensions, construction, and function of buildings, and also show features such as property boundaries, street names, and house and block numbers. Sanborn fire insurance maps are therefore an excellent source of information about urban development in American cities in the later 19th and the 20th centuries.

For more information on the history of fire insurance maps and the Sanborn Company as well as on the collection of the Library of Congress and other libraries with fire insurance map holdings, see the preface and introduction to Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress: A Checklist, found on the UC Berkeley Library website or in print at the UM Clark Library (Z 6026 .I7 U541).

Note: Most updated versions of Sanborn and other fire insurance maps are original editions with pasted-on correction slips. In such cases, the date of the information is usually a penciled date contained in a corrections box at the beginning of the set or volume, rather than the date appearing on the title sheet.

Obtaining Sanborn Maps Not Held by UM

Detroit Public Library
The Detroit Public Library houses Sanborn fire insurance maps for Detroit and other Michigan cities. For more information about available holdings, contact the Burton Historical Collection, which is located at the Main Library.

Center for Research Libraries
The Center for Research Libraries holds microfilm copies of all Sanborn fire insurance maps indexed in Fire Insurance Plans in the Library of Congress: A Checklist (Clark Library Z 6026 .I7 U541). They may be borrowed by UM affiliates through MLibrary Interlibrary Loan. On your request, please indicate the entry number, city name, and dates of the maps, and volume numbers from this publication.

Sanborn Maps Online

The ProQuest Collection of Sanborn Maps consists of "more than 660,000 large-scale maps of more than 12,000 American towns and cities." Users can manipulate the maps by magnifying and zooming in on specific areas

There is also the Fire Insurance Maps Online database (FIMo), which contains historical maps and atlases of the US, including Sanborn maps and Baist Real Estate Atlases.

The Library of Congress has an online collection Sanborn atlases that are freely available.

These online collections are accessible to University of Michigan faculty, staff and students only.

Clark Library Sanborn Maps



Clark Map Oversize G 1414 .D4 G475 S18 1921


1910-1938 (vols. 1-6, 1910-1923; vol. 7, 1915; vol. 7A 1915; vols. 8-10, 1915-1925; vol. 10A, 1915; vol.11, 1916-1929; vols. 12-13, 1924; vol. 13A 1924; vols. 14-22 1925-1933; vols. 24-26 1933-1938; suppl. vol. 1962?)


Most sheets have annotations and correction labels pasted on indicating revisions to ca. 1960.


Baist's Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Detroit and Suburbs

The Clark Library also holds printed volumes of Baist's Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Detroit and Suburbs; flat maps that show features similar to Sanborn maps, such as the locations and names of major buildings, the construction material of buildings, rail lines, and water mains.


Clark Map Atlas Shelves G 1414 D4 B16


1915; 1918; 1923; 1926