Architecture: Maps, GIS, Aerial Photos

A library research guide that directs students to recommended and specialized online and print resources for their study of topics within Architecture and design projects.

GIS at the Library

The Digital Scholarship Lab at the Marriott Library (LVL 1, West) now provides support for GIS. For more information, contact Justin Sorensen, Geospatial Information Specialist.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Fire insurance maps are detailed city plans, usually at scales of 50 or 100 feet to an inch. They show individual building "footprints," complete with construction details, such as building material (brick, adobe, frame, etc.), height (of larger buildings), number of stories, location of doors, windows, chimneys and elevators, use of structure (dwelling, hotel, church, etc.), street address, and occasionally the ethnicity of the occupants. Other features shown include lot lines, street widths, water pipes, hydrants and cisterns, and fire-fighting facilities.

The maps were originally produced for insurance underwriters, who used them to determine risks and establish premiums (more history). Today these maps are used by scholars and researchers in such fields as history, urban geography, architectural history and preservation, ethnic studies, and urban archaeology.

The Marriott Library Special Collections has 3,000 original (full color, print) Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Utah (of which, nearly 1,300, or those dating prior to 1922, are available as full-color digital surrogates in the Marriott Library’s Digital Collections (see link below) as well as incomplete microfilm (black and white) sets of maps for the Intermountain states, including Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The collection does not include holdings for the other 42 states.

To locate records for Sanborn maps in the Marriott Library catalog, search by SUBJECT for the following:

insurance fire [GEOGRAPHIC PLACE NAME] maps
insurance fire utah salt lake city maps

Map Collection in the Library

Aerial Photography in the Library

NOT all aerial photographs and maps will be available to you online. You may need to consult the library's Map Collection (LVL 1) and/or Special Collections (LVL 4).

Search for local and regional aerial photography in the library catalog with the following search:

SUBJECT / IS EXACT:  aerial photography  /  SUBJECT / IS EXACT:  utah     **limit to images

Other searches you might try (some of these will have very minimal results):   

Several Relevant Collections of Aerial Photography at the Library:

Other Resources

URISA: The Association for GIS Professionals

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is a nonprofit association of professionals using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other information technologies to solve challenges in state/provincial, regional and local government agencies and departments. URISA is considered to be the premier organization for the use and integration of spatial information technology to improve the quality of life in urban and regional environments.

Subject Guide

Luke Leither's picture
Luke Leither

Map Librarian

Ken Rockwell's picture
Ken Rockwell
Office: 1738-B (in the suite near Map Collection, Level 1)
Marriott Library Eccles Library Quinney Law Library