Sanborn mapping firm hits 150-year milestone

April 12, 2016  - By
A Sanborn fire insurance map of the Chicago Union Stockyards from 1890 (Image: Library of Congress)

A Sanborn fire insurance map of the Chicago Union Stockyards from 1890 (Image: Library of Congress)

Founded in 1866 to produce fire insurance maps, the current Sanborn Map Company offers high-tech mapping services that include mobile and aerial light detection and ranging (lidar), aerial oblique imagery and orthoimagery, 3D visualization, autonomous robotic indoor mapping, FAA-approved unmanned aircraft system (UAS) services and more.

Sanborn made key contributions to America’s World War II effort, secretly housing classified Allied invasion maps critical to the D-Day invasion of Normandy in its historic Pelham, New York, building. That building is 110 years old this year, and Westchester County has declared April 20 as “Sanborn Map Building Day” to honor both the building and company anniversaries.

Sanborn’s legendary fire insurance maps are distinctive because of their sophisticated set of symbols that precisely and clearly convey complex information. The Library of Congress Sanborn map collection includes 50,000 editions of the maps comprising an estimated 700,000 individual sheets dating back to 1867. The maps depict commercial, industrial and residential sections of 12,000 cities and towns across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

A sample of Sanborn's oblique imagery. (Photo: Sanborn)

A sample of Sanborn’s oblique imagery. (Photo: Sanborn)

Today, Sanborn has embraced modern geospatial technology, pioneering the collection and delivery of digital orthoimagery and collecting and processing high resolution oblique aerial imagery and designing derivative products.

The firm has a vast oblique imagery collection. In 2015, Sanborn added 2.8 million new images to its Oblique Imagery Solutions database and provides proprietary tools, such as Sanborn Oblique Analyst software, so its customers can extract the maximum value from the imagery.

Sanborn also offers 6-inch resolution orthoimagery covering the entire continental U.S. in both natural color and infrared products, and has one of the industry’s widest range of 3D, off-the-shelf mapping products. These include 3D Buildings, a suite of modeling products designed for 3D visualization and geographic information system (GIS) applications; 3D Cities for virtual city implementation; and CitySets, which comprise digital datasets covering the core downtown areas of most major U.S metropolitan areas.

This is posted in Featured Stories, GIS News, Lidar, Mapping

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.