The NYPL's Open Maps Project adds 20,000 High Res Maps
March 31, 2014 5:46 PM   Subscribe

The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via)

The NYPL's Open Maps Project was highlighted on MetaFilter back in 2010.

From the OpenCulture link:
The “warper” is a special feature that helps place historical maps in a modern visual field, but it in no way ruins the enjoyment of those maps as archival pieces or art objects. You can see cartographer John Wolcott Adams original 1916 Castello Plan redraft below, and visit NYPL’s Digital Collections for a high resolution image, fully zoomable and, yes, printable. For more on the incredible warping technology NYPL makes available to us, see this extended blog post, “Unbinding the Atlas: Working with Digital Maps.” Over ten thousand of the collection’s maps are of New York and New Jersey, dating from 1852 to 1922, including property, zoning, and topographic maps. In addition, over one thousand of the maps depict Mid-Atlantic cities from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and over 700 are topographic maps of the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1877 and 1914. That should be enough to keep any amateur or professional map-lover busy for a good long while.
posted by zarq (11 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
goodbye world, I am leaving you for your 2D representations past
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:56 PM on March 31, 2014

posted by carter at 6:35 PM on March 31, 2014

Man, this is great. But (in the spirit of never being satisfied) it's hard to use, for instance, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy: Militärgeographisches Institut maps (wonderfully detailed!) without some kind of master map that would show you which map is next to which. If you're using the Austerlitz map to follow the battle, most of it took place west of the border of the map, and there's no way of knowing where to look for the one you need, unless I'm missing something.
posted by languagehat at 7:32 AM on April 1, 2014

Thank you, I love these maps. While wandering around NYPL online I came across this request for technology help, so I thought I'd pass it on to techie mefites.
posted by mareli at 7:43 AM on April 1, 2014

languagehat, I had been viewing those in book format and having the same difficulty. I actually thought they had been placed side by side at first, but unfortunately not.
posted by zarq at 8:08 AM on April 1, 2014

I've got this one at home!
posted by Kabanos at 9:54 AM on April 1, 2014

languagehat, it looks like this is the original index map. The maps are named after the towns shown within the grid, so for example searching at nypl for "brünn Militärgeographisches Institut" takes you to this map.
posted by gubo at 10:24 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Glad people are finding this useful! I'm lucky enough to work on some of the digitization processes at NYPL, which means I get to work with some of the great folks who made this happen including Matt Knutzen who wrote the linked post.

Langaugehat and zarq, I talked to Matt for a second and he provided this .kml timestamped index of the Austria Hungary maps. Let me know if that doesn't work for some reason. I should also point out that the file there points to our older Digital Gallery platform, but hopefully it at least helps put those in some context.

And yeah, it doesn't obviate the need for building more of that kind of contextual tool into these platforms -- I can't speak for the Maps Division or the software development folks, but I think this is definitely the kind of thing we'd like to provide more of.

Bonus protip for others enjoying this: If you (like me) immediately started looking in the Map Warper for the map that says "Here Be Dragons," you'll be looking a long time -- because it's actually not a map but the Hunt-Lenox Globe (also in the NYPL collection, in the Rare Books division). We have a few images of it on Digital Collections, though globes aren't the most natural fit for our predominantly 2D digitization process.
posted by Hadroed at 11:01 AM on April 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

> languagehat, it looks like this is the original index map.

Thanks so much, that's exactly what I needed!

> Langaugehat and zarq, I talked to Matt for a second and he provided this .kml timestamped index of the Austria Hungary maps. Let me know if that doesn't work for some reason.

It looks cool but it froze Firefox for me, so I'm sticking with gubo's index map for now. But thanks!
posted by languagehat at 5:33 PM on April 1, 2014

The Library of Congress also has a whole ton of ancient maps in the American Memory collections, but their website is the _worst_ _thing_ _ever_ to use (90s-era MapQuest-style map panning, and only offers downloads in JPEG2000).

I'd love to see some enterprising hackers scrape the thing and build a better UI around it...
posted by schmod at 8:33 AM on April 2, 2014

I am not actually going to start reading that link, lest I be sucked into a black hole of maps.

What I am going to do is send the link to a friend, who will get sucked into a black hole of maps. After a few weeks they should emerge with a cartographic report of the lay of the land and where the best views might be seen.
posted by yohko at 5:21 PM on April 3, 2014

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