Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: Finding Sanborn Maps Online
Fire Insurance Maps online (FIMo)
The UB Libraries started a subscription to Fire Insurance Maps online (FIMO) in Spring 2020. We are excited to have access to Sanborn and other historical maps for all United States.
FIMo Tutorial Videos
Digital Sanborn Maps of New York State
The UB Libraries has a subscription to the digital edition (available to the UB community), providing electronic access to Sanborn fire insurance maps of cities and towns in New York State (1867-1970). The maps are valuable tools for urban specialists, social historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, local historians, planners, and environmentalists.
The LOC Geography & Maps Division provides a helpful guide to understanding Sanborn Keys & Colors.
Digital Sanborn Maps: Who can use them? The University Libraries subscribes to the Digital Sanborn Maps for New York state only. All UB students and staff may access these as part of our subscription, as well as those on campus with guest passes, and those with UB Alumni or Friends of the Libraries memberships. Our subscription is expensive and we are required to limit use to this population. We cannot share access to anyone who does not belong to one of the above groups.
How to Locate Specific Digital Sanborn Maps
Connect to the Digital Sanborn Maps database (through its Product Description Page). After making initial City and date selection, look at the Image Page (see illustration), look at the Index Sheet and the Key Sheet. These provide an index to sheets for the specific edition that you are viewing.
The Index Sheet provides an alphabetical list of streets (usually including block numbers) and prominent buildings, labeled "specials." The index refers you to the sheet number for that address or building. For further searching tips, use the Frequently Asked Questions section located in the Help Index.
Using the example below, Niagara Street can be located on a number of sheets. If you choose the section on Sheet Number 11, you can see a map that includes this particular portion of Niagara Street. Niagara Square is included on Sheets 11, 15, and 16. You can find the same locations using the Key Sheet (below).
Note where Sheet 11 is on the Key Sheet. (Larger view below)
You see Map Sheet 11, showing the Niagara Street and Niagara Square area. At this point, you can zoom in to see details, move around the map (choose Re-center button or use arrows on map edges) and can view details of a specific area.
Below is a small portion of Sheet 11 showing a section along Niagara Street. You may download the image that you develop on the screen using either the "Save Image as," "Save Picture as," or you may save the entire Map Sheet 11 by using the "Download Map" link at the top of your browser window (opens the map as a pdf, which can be zoomed in/out).
You may also print the current view using the "Print Current View" selection at the top of your browser window.
You can select a different date using the pull-down box.
Additional notes: You cannot move between Map Sheets without going back to the main index page.
For some cities and towns, the Key Sheet and Index Sheet are on the same sheet.
To see what various symbols are on each map, click on Sanborn Keys & Colors from Library of Congress Geography & Maps Divison.