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About the Map Division

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The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division is one of the world’s premier map collections in terms of size, scope, unique holdings, diversity and intensity of use. Established in 1898, our holdings include more than 433,000 sheet maps and 20,000 books and atlases published between the 15th and 21st centuries. The collections range from the global to the local scale and support the learning and research needs of a wide variety of users.

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In-Person Research

Researchers can access the collections in our splendid reading room (renovated in 2005) by browsing our open shelf reference books, our dictionary catalog or with the guidance of our staff. Most maps and atlases are stored on closed shelves and are typically brought to the reader in less than an hour. A valid library card is required. ( Apply for a card ) Laptops are welcome as our reading room is Wi-Fi enabled and equipped with ample power outlets. There are also six computer workstations with access to Digital Sanborn Maps:1867-1970, Google Earth, and Oasis NYC: community maps of New York City. Reproductions are made at the discretion of the staff and include photocopying and scanning. 

Plan Your Visit

We encourage you to plan your research visit. Please note that portions of our collection may be temporarily unavailable and requesting materials in advance will help you make the most of your visit.

  • Contact us with your research questions at maps@nypl.org
  • Please note that portions of our collection are not yet searchable though the catalog or may be located in offsite storage and e-mailing us in advance will help you make the most of your visit. 
  • If you have already identified the resources you would like to consult, you can request materials in advance of your visit.
  • Request for onsite materials cannot be accepted beginning 30 minutes prior to closing.

Visits, Classes, and Tours

The Map Division welcomes requests for organizational tours, lectures, and class visits and similar events. Please submit your request for your organization or class using our Request Form

Online Research

Search our collections (acquired after 1971) using NYPL's online catalog, look at maps in the Digital Gallery, browse our NYC Land Atlases, read our New York City Maps research guide, help us georeference our antiquarian map collection using the NYPL Map Warper or lend NYPL a hand and have some fun tracing NYC's past using the new Building Inspector. Find out more about map collections, classes, programs and activities through our blog posts, tweets, Pinterest boards, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook page. Or simply learn "How to Read a Map".

City Maps

Maps and atlases documenting the urban environment throughout the world represent a core strength of the collection, with the historical New York City map holdings among the deepest and most heavily used anywhere. With more than 2,000 sheet maps and 18,000 atlas map sheets illustrating the city and its five boroughs before 1922 (often to the building level), this collection is a critical support to many researchers of the local environment. For a guide to what has been digitized from this collection, please click here.

Antiquarian Maps

Our antiquarian atlas and map collection includes many important Dutch, English, and French imprints dating to the 15th century. Initially formed from the collections of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox, the holdings were augmented by significant gifts including the Ford Collection, John Levine Bequest, Emmet Collection, and Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection. The antiquarian map collection is supported by a strong corpus of secondary resources for its use and study, including: illustrated and annotated cartobibliographies, histories of cartography, periodicals, price guides, as well as dealer and auction catalogs.

Topographic Maps

The Map Division holds over 150,000 topographic maps, including historical map sets from the founders’ libraries such as Cassini’s Carte de France… covering pre-Revolution France in 175 sheets. The bulk of our topographic maps, however, came to the NYPL during the 20th century as part of the (FLDP) Federal Library Depository Program with significant map coverages added through aggressive collection development policies aimed at deepening map strength for the entire world.

Digitized Maps

Upwards of 10,000 of our maps have been digitized thus far, with plans to increase those digitally available to 17,000 by the end of 2013. Those can all be found on the NYPL's Digital Gallery Page, (where the collection can be seen in the wider NYPL collections context), on this simplified digital map collections page (that distills the maps into their geographic categories), and finally at maps.nypl.org (a web map browser, georectification, and tracing toolkit that adds Geographic Information Systems (GIS) functionality to our extensive digital map collection).