The History Department of Los Angeles Public Library maintains a large collection of maps covering the city and surrounding areas. This map collection covers land, sea and air, and contains material from the founding of the pueblo to the present. Such graphic representation of the city as it existed and as it exists now can be a very valuable resource in understanding the constantly changing face of Los Angeles. The History Department on Lower Level four of Central Library has:
The entire set of Historical Maps of Greater Los Angeles compiled for the Bureau of Engineering covering the city from 1847 to the 1960s. This invaluable set contains over one thousand maps on aperture cards which are mounted slides that can be copied on department microfiche reader-printers. We also have Maps of the City Clerk which is also on aperture cards that show bridges, dams, sewers, tunnels and other features of Los Angeles growth from the 19th century to the 1960s.
Over one hundred flat maps of the city cataloged under the Dewey decimal number 91.7941 L881 covering the Los Angeles area from the original Ord Survey to current tourist maps. Individual maps may be requested at the reference desk. Most of these can be copied from aperture cards.
A file of historic street guides of Los Angeles by Gillespie, Renie and Thomas Brothers. This group includes detailed street atlases and maps including the 1925 & 1929 Gillespie guide, a 1931 Renie, a 1923 street guide by the Lyon moving company and Thomas Brothers guides from 1946 to the present.
A collection of vertical file foldout maps published by the Auto Club and oil companies dating back to the 1930s covering Los Angeles and the metropolitan area.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. See Sanborn Atlases
Baist's Real Estate Atlas from 1921 shows the city proper in great detail including each building on the lot and some identification of public buildings. On Aperture cards, ask at the reference desk.
Nirenstein's Real Estate Atlas of 1953 shows major business streets in Southern California area with businesses identified and accompanied by aerial photos of districts such as Wilshire boulevard and others.
The Saunders Geographic Atlas of the San Fernando Valley for the 1950s with maps showing the streets at the beginning of the building boom in the valley.
A full complement of Nautical charts for waters off the coast of Los Angeles including the National Ocean Survey charts for Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors. These charts are not updated and are not for navigational use.
The Mariner's Atlas for Southern California by A.P. Balder (912.7940 B176) a handy collection of nautical charts covering coastal waters in Southern California published in 1989.
A complete set of U.S.G.S. topographical maps in 1:24,000 scale showing Los Angeles county and surrounding areas all over the state of California. A retrospective file:
- Historical USGS Topographical Maps of California
- Historical USGS Topographical Maps of LA County and Nearby Cities
Is maintained for California back to the original quad for Los Angeles in 1900. Indexed on USGS website and indexes available at History reference desk.
National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration Aeronautical charts covering the Los Angeles area. These charts are not updated and are not for navigational use.
Aerial Photos do appear in the historic photograph collection held in the History department but are not indexed nor are they a true aerial photograph collection such as owned by University of California Los Angeles or Whittier College. Central Library owns a single specimen of aerial photos in the year 1965 only.
Any questions should be directed to: