Library Of Congress Shares Its Collection Of Panoramic Maps To Researchers

During the late 19th and early 20th century, panoramic maps were used to depict cities in the United States and Canada. Also known as illustrated maps, bird’s eye view maps or pictorial maps, the panoramic map is a representation of a city as seen from above at an oblique angle. It is not drawn according to scale because the purpose is not really for navigation.

About 5,000 maps from its collection will be shared by the Library of Congress that has recently joined the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) as content hub. DPLA was launched in 2013 and since then, it has grown as an online platform that connects items from museums, libraries and other organizations across the country. The idea behind DPLA is to provide a centralized source of digitized content for researchers and the general public.

The first Library of Congress records that will be shared in DPLA’s database are about cartography. According to Carla Hayden, librarian of the Library of Congress, they will be sharing one-of-a-kind historic maps that people will appreciate. Initially, 5,000 objects will be shared by the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division. These will include panoramic maps that were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In the past aerial photography was not available unless innovative tactics like kites were used. Before the Wright Brothers flew the first successful airplane in 1903, aerial views were only possible through balloon rides. Illustrated maps that were created during those eras were only visual impressions or geographic measurements.

There were illustrated maps that cover a vast amount of land that shows the colorful World’s Fair grounds in 1893 Chicago and 1904 St. Louis and the busy waterways of 1870 New York and 1885 Madison. There is also a map of Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1917 showing tiny passengers in a car driving to town.

A popular form of cartographic illustration is the panoramic maps that show views of cities, towns and large areas. It often captures a moment in time which will be interesting to a viewer. The panoramic map is an interesting conversation piece inside the boardroom or the lobby of a prominent building in a city.