Historical Topographic Maps - Preserving the Past
In 2009, USGS began the release of a new generation of topographic maps (US Topo) in electronic form, and in 2011, complemented them with the release of high-resolution scans of more than 178,000 historical topographic maps of the United States. The topographic map remains an indispensable tool for everyday use in government, science, industry, land management planning, and recreation.
Historic maps are snapshots of the nation's physical and cultural features at a particular time. Maps of the same area can show how an area looked before development and provide a detailed view of changes over time. Historical maps are often useful to scientists, historians, environmentalists, genealogists and others researching a particular geographic location or area.
The goal of The National Map’s Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC), which started in 2011, is to provide a digital repository of USGS 1:250,000 scale and larger maps printed between 1884, the inception of the topographic mapping program, and 2006.
The National Geospatial Program (NGP) is accurately cataloging and creating metadata to accompany high-resolution, geo-referenced digital files representing the legacy lithographic maps. These maps are either no longer available for distribution in print or are being replaced by the new generation of US Topo maps
GeoPDF® versions of HTMC maps can be downloaded free of charge from these applications:
- TopoView provides the best visual overview of the HTMC. It serves maps in GeoTIFF, JPG, and KMZ formats, in addition to the product standard GeoPDF.
- The National Map Download Client
- The "Map Locator and Downloader" application at https://store.usgs.gov. This application includes links to purchase printed maps.
- A text query application supports more powerful queries. Other information here allows advanced users to write custom download scripts.
TopoView serves HTMC maps only, but the other three applications in the above list also serve US Topo maps, the current generation of USGS GeoPDF® topographic maps.
For tutorial information on download and product use, see the US Topo Users Guide.
For more information contact us.