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Topographic Maps: Home


Topographic Maps

Topographic maps contain data on the natural features of the land, such as elevations, contours, water bodies, and other features, plus they may also contain man-made features such as roads, railroads, buildings and structures, etc. The main concept of topographic maps is that they show the way the landscape would appear if viewed from above. A brief history of the USGS topographic map program describes the creation of this valuable series. For more on the USGS topographic maps, see:

General Information About Topographic Mapping. Introduction and history of the entire system.

USGS Maps. Description of each topo map series (differing scales and types).

The UB Map Collection includes topographical maps of the entire United States at scales of 1:24,000, 1:100,000, and 1:250,000; a complete set of Canadian topographic maps at 1:25,000; 1:50,000 and 1:100,000; World maps at 1:250,000 and 1:1,000,000; and maps of Europe, Mexico, and other areas at more detailed scales. U.S. topographical maps are arranged alphabetically by state, and then alphabetically by map name.

Use Index maps to locate topographic maps for the U.S. and Canada.

For New York State, we have a scanned index map, with sections.

In addition to printed maps, digital maps are available:

  • Topographic Maps (Digital Rasterized Graphic) image files for download (for use in ArcView, Photoshop). Also available here are low-res images of each quad.
  • New York State Gazetteer & GeoData Collection. This UB Libaries page provides a gazetteer, along with the digital collection of downloadable USGS topographic maps, such as georeferenced Digital Raster Graphics (DRG's). These maps are suitable for both general use and GIS applications.
  • New York Topographic Maps (selection). Topos (Scales 24k, 100k, 250k) covering selected portions of the state. Scroll to New York Topographic Map Index and click the link. Subsections are selected by clicking each area.

Current USGS Topographic Maps

In addition to topo maps in our collection, you may want digital or digitized topo maps to download. There are many ways to access these, including:

The National Map (U.S.) This USGS site is the best source for topographic maps of the United States. View and download raster images of topo maps, searching by a variety of elements. Maps may be located and downloaded at no charge. Paper maps are available for a fee through map stores, and also in the USGS Map Store. To find digital editions of both current and earlier editions of U.S. topo maps, go to the Historical Topographic Map Collection.

Use the Guide: Locating and downloading United States Geological Survey Topographic Maps to help you locate topo maps, in paper and digital formats.


Historical (pre-1950) USGS Topographic Maps

Historic or pre-1950 topographic maps (mostly 1:63,360) of New York State are available in the Map Collection. These can be located using the Libraries' Catalog, and are available for use inside the Map Room. Ask for assistance at the UGL/SEL reference desk. An index is available at several external sites:

Both websites also provide direct access to image files of the topo maps. MyTopo now offers historic topo maps for the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Historical Topographic Map Collection (National Map (USGS)). Digital versions of U.S. topographic maps for all states, both current and pre-1950s, may be located here.

Examples of Buffalo topos can seen here: Historical Topographic Maps of Buffalo.


How to Read and Understand Topographic Maps

Topographic Maps. USGS page describing terms and concepts relating to topo maps. See also additional topo map pages.

Topographic map symbols. Though somewhat uniform throughout the cartographic world, not all maps use the same symbols. This link shows symbols used by USGS. Additional descriptions here: Topographic map symbols, landforms, and map examples (California State University, Sacramento).

USGS Topographic Maps - The largest collection of maps in the Map Room are the U.S. government produced topographic map series. Below are numerical statistics on the number of USGS Topographic Maps in various series from the National Topographic Map Names Database.

Scale of Series Number of Maps
1:24,000 53,252
1:25,000 Alaska 237
1:25,000 7.5" X 15" 192
1:63,360 Alaska 2905
1:100,000 1813
1:250,000 663
American Samoa 11
Guam 20
Micronesia 76
Mariana Islands 28
Puerto Rico 95
Virgin Islands 24

A summary of the system is this description from the USGS site:

USGS Topographic Mapping 1879-1992

The USGS took over responsibility for mapping the country in 1879 and has been the primary civilian mapping agency of the United States ever since. The best known USGS maps are the 1:24,000-scale topographic maps, also known as 7.5-minute quadrangles. More than 55,000 7.5-minute maps were made to cover the 48 conterminous States. This is the only uniform map series that covers the entire area of the United States in considerable detail.

The 7.5-minute map series was officially completed in 1992, and the program has recently been replaced by The National Map.


Sample topographic maps:

Buffalo 1965 map

Buffalo, NE Quadrangle map. 1:24,000 topographic map of the Northeast part of Buffalo, and surrounding suburbs, produced by the U.S.G.S.
(1503KB jpg image)
Call Number: U.S. State Topographical map section: Arranged alphabetically by title.

(For an index to Western New York State 1:24,000 scale maps, go to the low resolution Map Index (Western NY). The entire state is broken into four sections. All four are 8.5 by 11 inch Acrobat format (PDF) files. (Note: These files are large and will display and print more efficiently if saved to disk and opened in the Acrobat Reader software outside of your Internet browser.)


Lockport thumnail -- Click for map Lockport, NY. 1:100,000 topographic map.
(2703K GIF image)
Call Number: US I 19.110 : 43078-A1-™-100/994

State Digital Topographic Map Sites

  • Kentucky 7.5 Minute Topographic Quadrangles (DRG)

Other United States Topographic Maps


Ordering Topographic Maps

To order USGS maps, visit the USGS Store with order information. Topos may be downloaded at no charge on the USGS Topographic Maps download site.

Historical (pre-1950) USGS Topographic Maps

Historic or pre-1950 topographic maps (mostly 1:63,360) of New York State are available in the Map Collection. These can be located using the Libraries' Catalog, and are available for use inside the Map Room. Ask for assistance at the UGL/SEL reference desk. An index is available at several external sites:

Both websites also provide direct access to image files of the topo maps. MyTopo now offers historic topo maps for the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Historical Topographic Map Collection (National Map (USGS)). Digital versions of U.S. topographic maps for all states, both current and pre-1950s, may be located here.

Examples of Historic Buffalo topos can seen here: Historical Topographic Maps of Buffalo.

Various historical maps of New York and Erie County are available in the Map Room Reference Collection. These maps are arranged alphabetically by state then by place name. A map index is located on the Topographic Maps page of the Map Collection. Please contact the Silverman Library Reference Desk, by calling 645-2945 or via e-mail library@buffalo.edu to set up an appointment to use these maps.

These maps are also available in digital form: go to Historic Maps of New England & New York.

Sample historic topographical maps of Buffalo


Thumbnail 1914 Map of Niagara River and Vicinity [Scale 1:62,500]
Map Rm Ref Alphabetically by title

Thumbnail 1948 Map of Buffalo, NY [Scale 1:62,500]
Map Rm Ref Alphabetically by title

Thumbnail 1901 Map showing the University of Buffalo (now South Campus)
[Scale 1:62,500]
Map Rm Ref Alphabetically by title

Thumbnail 1950 Map showing the University of Buffalo (now South Campus)
[Scale 1:62,500]
Map Rm Ref Alphabetically by title

Thumbnail 1901 Map of Delaware Park
[Scale 1:62,500] (281 KB JPG image)
Map Rm Ref Alphabetically by title

Thumbnail 1948 Map of Delaware Park [Scale 1:62,500]
Map Rm Ref Alphabetically by title

Map Indexes & Finding Guides


Indexes to U.S. topographic maps show map users the various map series, special maps, and map byproducts produced and distributed by the U.S Geological Survey and to assist users in selecting and purchasing maps. The index identifies quadrangle areas by map name and scale. A map is usually named after the most prominent city, town or natural landmark shown on it.

Topographic map indexes are located at the first table in the Map Room (TOPO MAP INDEXES). There is one index for each state. Index maps for Canadian topos are located here also. Below are facsimiles of indexes for various maps in the collection, especially for New York State 7.5 minute series (1:24,000).

Some commercial map distributors have U.S. states index maps online (another link to an index site). Use these for fast searches.


quad map index -- click to see larger image

USGS topographic map indexes are located at the first table in the Map Room. Each state has an index. At the left is a facsimile of the cover of the New York topo map index.

USGS topo-quads circulate. Find the right map by using the indexes. For New York and Pennsylvania, you can also search the Libraries' Catalog, the UB Libraries Catalog by title or by county (e.g., s = erie county n y--maps topographic).


Click to see NYS topo map index

New York Index to Quadrangles (1:24,000). This is a facsimile of the full index map with active links to higher resolution segments for ease of use.

Use this index to locate New York topo maps in the UB Map Collection. You may also search in the Libraries' Catalog for New York and Pennsylvania topographic maps by title, county, and other features.

For pre-1950 maps (1:63,360) referred to as "Historic Topos", there is a map index, which also allows downloading of digitized versions of the originals (UB has original paper copies--See the Libraries' Catalog).


Index map from NYS GIS Clearinghouse

1:24,000 Digital Raster Quadrangles Index Map (7.5 Minute Quadrangles) (New York State GIS Clearinghouse). Used to locate raster images and GIS data for quads but is useful for selecting paper maps as well (Click on quad location to obtain the quad name (for locating in drawer). You can view the entire state list by Quad Name, and can view map metadata (e.g., year of coverage, coordinates, etc.), and can download image files of each quad in low-res gif (2 gif versions for each quad), or in a zipped file that includes for each TIFF image internal GeoTIFF georegistration, a MapInfo format table file (.tab), and an ESRI format world file (.tfw).


Digital Topographic Maps

New York State

New York State Gazetteer & GeoData Collection. This UB Libaries page provides a gazetteer, along with the digital collection of downloadable USGS topographic maps, such as georeferenced Digital Raster Graphics (DRG's). These maps are suitable for both general use and GIS applications.

1:24,000 Scale Planimetric & Topographic Maps (7.5 Minute Quadrangles) (New York State GIS Clearinghouse). Index of all NYS topos showing filing title and year of latest edition (listed are topos and planimetrics).

New York Topographic Maps (selection). Topos (Scales 24k, 100k, 250k) covering selected portions of the state. Download as jpg or pdf.

Historic New York Topographic Maps (pre-1950).


Other States

To acquire digital topos for other states, Use the Guide: Locating and downloading United States Geological Survey Topographic Maps to help you locate topo maps, in paper and digital formats.


1:250,000 scale map index -- click to view

New York State 1:250,000 scale maps are in the Eastern United States 1:250,000 series, one of a number of map series produced by the U.S. Government. These can be identified in the Libraries' Catalog by title and are shelved in the Map Room under Government Documents (SuDoc) number. The Map Collection has maps in this series for a number of states, and this series is part of a world-wide series of maps of the same scale. Click on the image at left to see the New York index. For example the title: Buffalo is located under: US I 19.110: 42078-A 1-TF-250/


image

New York State 30 x 60 minute series (1:100,000 scale) maps. These can be located in the Libraries' Catalog and are shelved in the Map Room under SuDoc number. For example the title: Rochester, New York : 1:100 000-scale metric topographic map is located under: US I 19.110: 43077-A 1-™-100 /994


AMS Map indexes -- click image to view list of indexes

Index Maps to AMS and GSGS Maps. Collection of scanned Index maps to Army Map Service and GSGS (Great Britain. War Office. General Staff Geographical Section) map series. These indexes show maps in the UC Berkeley collection but they can be used to locate similar maps in the UB Map Collection. First use the Libraries' Catalog to search for these maps.


image

Army Map Service (AMS) Map Series maps (World). Each region has an index map and digitized facsimiles of some of the maps in each series. (index at UT-Austin Library).

Army Map Service 1:250,000 Scale Topographic Maps of the United States. UB has most of these maps in its collection, see the Libraries' Catalog for access. The link above is an index of all maps in the series. Click here for Alaska. (index at UT-Austin Library).

Use the Libraries' Catalog to search for maps in the UB Map Collection first, then refer to these. You can search for these maps by title, country, by district, province, or state (in some cases), and other features.

Canadian Topographic Maps

The Map Collection includes complete sets of 1:25,000; 1:50,000; and 1:100,000 scale topographical maps of Canada. These maps are arranged alphabetically by province, and name. Some of the maps have been cataloged and are arranged by Library of Congress call numbers, starting with G3201.C2 s50 .C3. A map index can be located in the index section of the Map Collection (see Map Room map below). Because of the quantity of maps, some are in a storage site. Please contact Map Librarian, David J. Bertuca by e-mail or phone (716-645-1332), for assistance.

Canadian Topographic Maps (non-government)

International Map of the World 1:1,000,000 Series. Many of these maps are also in the Libraries' Catalog. This link shows an index map that will help in selecting maps by location (index at UT-Austin Library).

If you need further assistance, please contact the UGL/SEL Reference Desk by calling 645-2945 or via e-mail at library@buffalo.edu

See the Natural Resources Canada.


Sample topographical maps of Canada

Bolton, Ontario
[Scale 1:50,000]
Call Number: G3401.C2 s50.C3 no.30 M/13

Thumbnail Welland, Ontario
[Scale 150,000]
Call Number: G3401.C2 s50 .C3 no.30 L/14

Thumbnail Opeongo Lake, Ontario
[Scale 1:50,000]
Call Number: G3401.C2 s50 .C3 no.30 E/9

Thumbnail Hamilton-Grimsby, Ontario
[Scale 1:50,000]
Call Number: G3401.C2 s50 .C3 no.30 M/4
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Librarian

David J. Bertuca's picture
David J. Bertuca
Contact:
116 Lockwood Memorial Library
645-1332
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