Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to Find Old Maps Online


I first reviewed Goolzoom back in 2008, when it released a very impressive cadastre map of Spain overlaid on Google Maps. Since then Goolzoom has quietly become a very useful GIS system built on top of the Google Maps platform. It has also been adding old paper maps to its collection all around the world.

Goolzoom is now one of the best Google Maps portals for finding and viewing old paper maps. Select a country on Goolzoom and you can view a list of its collection of old maps and GIS overlays for that country in the map sidebar. Select a map from the list and it will be added as an overlay to the Google Map.

For example, select France from the drop-down menu and you have a choice of numerous GIS map layers and the option to view a number of old maps of France on top of the modern Google Map. The collection of old French maps includes maps dating back to 1708. If you want to view old paper maps from other countries just select the country from the drop-down menu.


The David Rumsey Map Collection is one of the biggest repositories of old paper maps online. The amazing David Rumsey Map Collection of historical maps now holds over 40,000 antique maps, all of which you can view online.

120 of the historical maps in the collection can also be viewed on this David Rumsey Google Map, which allows you to explore the maps using Google Maps' familiar navigation tools.


Historic Map Works has a great collection of antique maps, many of which can be viewed via a Google Maps interface. After searching for an old map on Historic Map Works click on the Historic Earth link to view the map overlaid on Google Maps.

An opacity slider allows the user to adjust the transparency, so that the historical map can be compared to the modern map view underneath.


The Google Maps Gallery has quickly become one of the best websites to find and view old maps online. The gallery is a showcase of maps created by organisations using the Google Maps Engine. The new gallery highlights maps by organisations such as National Geographic, the David Rumsey Map Collection, USGS and NASA.

Many of the maps submitted to the Google Maps Gallery are antique maps. Select 'Historical' from the drop-down menu and you can get a quick overview of some of the old maps which are available in the gallery.
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