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New USGS/ESRI site for historical topo maps


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A century of change in maps


Earlier this week, the U.S. Geological Survey released a fantastic Web site, built with the mapping company Esri, digitizing some 178,000 of the government's topographic maps dating going back to the 1800s. These old paper products have all been georectified, so you can layer maps from different eras on top of each other


The Washington Post article focuses on the D.C. area, but as the article says, there are maps available across the country. I found some from as far back as 1897 for the Palo Alto area. Once you've loaded a map, you can download it.


BTW, I may have mentioned this a couple of months ago when I was taking that mapping course on Coursera, but the ArcGIS platform on which this USGS project is hosted is available free to anyone to play around with. You can create a public account on the ArcGIS Online site and play around with a number of very spiffy features, including online apps for various types of story maps. Sure, it doesn't have the features of the desktop version of ArcGIS, but like I said: free!

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