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St. Louis Area Historic Maps

A guide to locating historic maps of the St. Louis (Missouri) regional area.

What are Fire Insurance Maps?

Fire Insurance Companies

  • Originally created for the fire insurance industry, these maps provide the most complete visual record of the evolving built environment in St. Louis, covering commercial, industrial, and residential neighborhoods.
  • Urban planners, architects, urban archeologists, and historians as well as to those engaged in family, neighborhood, and house history regularly consult the fire insurance maps.

Sanborn and Whipple

  • In St. Louis, Alphonso Whipple produced fire insurance maps between 1870 and 1898.  This company was then absorbed by the larger Sanborn Company.
  • Sanborn maps date back to the 1860s and were created as a detailed building record by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company.  They are large scale (50 feet to the inch) and highly detail and include such information as building location, construction materials, and building height.
Why consult multiple editions?
  • Fire insurance companies frequently updated their maps with paste-over notes as cities added infrastructure and buildings changed. 
  • Today researchers often consult the same dated map from multiple libraries or databases to see if additional information can be determined.
  • This can be especially useful if you are researching a small area such as specific block or structure.

Best bet: Fire Insurance Maps online (FIMo)

Digital Sanborn Maps - St. Louis and more

In addition to Illinois and Missouri, WashU Libraries' FIMo subscription includes the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho,  Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Other cities in Missouri

Digital Whipple Maps of St. Louis

Currently use of these paper maps is restricted by their brittle condition, but through this joint digital project, the maps are now made available to the public.

Sanborn Maps - other formats

Black and White Digital Sanborn

  • "Digital Sanborn Maps" is an online resource consisting of scanned black and white images of Sanborn maps for Missouri. 
  • The maps were produced between 1876 and 1970, and can be searched by city and date. 

Original Printed Sanborn Maps