Maps and Atlases

Denver Public Library's large map collection covers Denver's rich history and so much more. Utilizing digitized and georeferenced maps from our collection, be sure to try out the Time Traveler's Map of Denver, comparing zoomable side by side maps from different periods from 1868 to 1958.

Illustrating a wide range of places, times, and themes, Special Collections and Archives' vast collection of approximately 30,000 sheet maps contains information about mining, land use, transportation development, geopolitical boundaries, genealogy, and the exploration and development of Colorado and the West. This includes a significant and growing aerial photography collection covering the greater Denver area. Please note that while most of the maps for Colorado and the western United States, and genealogy, are cataloged, most of our topographic maps are not in our online catalog. So if you don't find what you're looking for online, please contact a SCA staff member

Maps of Colorado and the West

Maps, both modern and historic, fill these drawers, charting previous and ongoing development of Denver, mining towns and mining claims, railroads, and towns all over Colorado. Discover any of our maps in our online catalog and browse in person, too. A large number of maps showing historic Denver and beyond have been digitized and are available in our digital collections. Denver maps in the digital collections include the 1887 Sanborn insurance map atlas.

Genealogy Maps and Building History

Although our map collection focuses primarily on the Western United States, we have historic maps of every state in the Union and around the world—an important resource for genealogists. Additionally, Colorado fire insurance maps provide valuable information to building researchers. Our genealogy map and chart collection contains family charts along with privately published maps covering the eastern United States and Europe. As of 2016, these resources are available for the public to peruse and are located near the Special Collections and Archives Reference Desk.

A popular online resource is the Newberry Library's Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. Use their site, download the KMZ file to use with Google Earth Pro, or grab the shapefile to use with your favorite GIS.

Topographic Maps

We have detailed topographic maps for Colorado, ranging from the popular 7.5' series to the 1:500,000-scale state base maps, including 19th-century sheets from the 15' and 30' series. Other western states are well-covered at scales from 1:250,000 and smaller. Many of these maps are also available online through either ESRI's Historical Topographic Map Explorer or through the USGS Map Locator service.

Aerial Photographs

From Jasper King's 1933 aerial maps to the present, aerial imagery is a great way to see the area as it used to look. Special Collections and Archives holds numerous volumes of aerial image atlas and sheets, and can help you find other sources online to suit your need. Systemic aerial coverage in the collections ranges from 1933 to the early 2000s, though additional coverage from 2002 to the present is also available in two-year increments from the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG).

Maps in Archives

While not technically part of our map collection, many of DPL's archival collections contain unique manuscript maps and some published maps, including military maps from the 10th Mountain Division, mining claim maps, Denver Mountain Parks, railroads, and many more.

International Maps

Our collection contains about 10,000 topographic and street maps from the Army Mapping Service (AMS) and its later incarnation, the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA). These maps provide international coverage ranging primarily from the 1930s through the 1950s. Genealogists looking for historic maps of Eastern Europe, where place names and jurisdiction changed frequently during the tumultuous 20th century, will find useful materials here. Maps in this collection were produced almost exclusively to help the United States military prepare for and fight military campaigns during World War II. Illustrating their value, troops from the 10th Mountain Division training in Colorado used AMS maps to plan and execute their campaign in northern Italy in early 1945.

Research Tools

Place Names of Colorado

A directory of places in Colorado. Includes town/location name, county, type, notes, whether in the 1949 and/or 1996 atlas, seat, section/township/range, and reference. 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (ProQuest)

Historic maps of Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico cities and towns from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, reproduced in black-and-white. These are useful for viewing the underlying map beneath printed updates. Help

Baist Atlas 1905

Historical map of Denver, Colorado. Included is a listing of all Additions and Subdivisions until the year 1905.

Robinson's Atlas of the City of Denver, Colorado, 1887

The Robinson Atlas will help you to date the construction of a building and give you a picture of neighborhood development. These maps also show the legal description of your building, which is necessary for locating many historic building records.

Historic Buildings Map

History Colorado’s Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP) and the Creating Communities Project have combined resources to highlight different historic buildings within the boundaries of specific neighborhoods. These buildings are just a small sample of the historic buildings located throughout the Denver area.