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Kentucky Room - Maps Collection

The Kentucky Room Maps Collection includes historic and current maps of Lexington and Kentucky as well as atlases of Kentucky and Kentucky Counties.

Two important features of the Kentucky Room Map Collection are:

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
  • Topographic and Geologic Maps of the Bluegrass

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps provide detailed information on the layout of cities and the location and uses of buildings. Originally created for insurance purposes, today they serve excellent resources for historical research.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Available on Microfilm in the Kentucky Room:

  • Lexington: 1886, 1890, 1896, 1901, 1907, 1934, 1934 (Revised 1951), 1958
  • Lebanon: 1886, 1890, 1895, 1901, 1908, 1915, 1927
  • Lebanon Junction: 1933
  • Leitchfield: 1901, 1907, 1912, 1925, 1945 (Revision)
  • Lewisport: 1927
  • Covington: 1953
  • Newport: 1952
  • Owensboro: 1956

Sanborn maps are large scale plans measuring 65x55cm showing the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction and the location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers (both numbers in current use and those previously used).

Textual information on construction details (for example steel beams, or reinforced walls) is often given on the plans while shading indicates different building materials. Extensive information on building use is given, ranging from symbols for generic terms such as stable garage, and warehouse to the name of owners of factories and details of what was manufactured in them. In the case of large factories or commercial buildings even individual rooms and the uses to which they were put are recorded on the maps.

The Sanborn Map Company of Pelham, New York, began producing maps for fire insurance purposes in the late 1860s for cities with populations over 2,000. The main purpose of the maps was to identify fire hazardous buildings and industrial sites for the benefit of insurance companies and underwriters assessing insurability of property. The maps also included residential buildings that stood within city limits. The production of Sanborn maps continued into the 1950s.

Topographic and Geologic Maps of the Bluegrass

The Kentucky Room Maps Collection includes Topographic and Geologic maps focusing on the Bluegrass Area surrounding Lexington.

Topographic Maps are produced by the United States Geological Survey and the Kentucky Geological Survey. The topographic maps in the Kentucky Room Collection were updated in 1993. Each map covers a 7.5 minute quadrangle and provides detailed information on natural and man-made features.

Geologic Maps are produced by the United States Geological Survey and the Kentucky Geological Survey. These are similar to Topographic maps but provide detailed information on the geologic make-up of each quadrangle.