Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Profiles and sections of the city (a worm’s-eye view?)


“Cartographic materials” and “cartographic resources” are phrases that we use in the map library world to describe a whole gamut of map-like information sources. Elevation profiles and geologic sections are particular types of cartographic materials that represent vertical planes, perpendicular to the earth’s surface, in contrast to the typical horizontal-surface representations commonly referred to as maps. Here are a couple of examples from the NYPL Digital Collections that show the added dimension that profiles can provide for an understanding of the New York City environment. Click on the images to connect to them in the Digital Collections, where you can enlarge and zoom into them.  from 24th to 161st Sts., shewing the elevations at the streets / compiled for D.T. Valentine's Manual for 1850 by G. Hayward, 180 Fulton St., Digital ID 434705, New York Public Library Profile of the twelve avenues in the city of New York 

Tibbits Brook route., Digital ID 434553, New York Public Library [Profile of] Tibbits Brook route [of Croton Aqueduct from the Harlem River to the Battery in Manhattan] (Note the distributing reservoir on the crest of Murray['s] Hill, the site of NYPL!)

Geologic maps often include sections to show multi-layered subsurface information. For the New York area, the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division has the still-often-referred-to geologic folio of 1902. Look at the scanned copy from Texas A&M University to see several sections from Midtown up to Westchester County on the "Structure-Section Sheet" of the Harlem Quadrangle on [p. 32]. The more recent Bedrock and Engineering Geologic Maps of New York County (1994) and of Bronx County (1992) also include geologic sections. See the bottom margins of these images from the Website of the U.S. Geological Survey. 












Bedrock and Engineering Geologic Maps of New York County 











Bedrock and Engineering Geologic Maps of Bronx County

Lest we forget the valuable resources in the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division that are not only not yet in the NYPL Digital Collections but also not yet listed in the online catalog, it’s always a good idea to check the 10-volume Dictionary Catalog of the Map Division (1971) for additional resources. In this photographed and bound version of our old card catalog, under New York City, 1898, those searching for profiles and sections of the city will be rewarded to find these 2 items listed:

Identifying profiles and sections in our catalogs (and therefore, in our collections) can be a bit of a challenge. In the Dictionary Catalog, they may be listed simply under

  • [Place name] [date]


  • Geology [place name] [date]

In the Classic Catalog, descriptions of profiles may be retrieved with the subject search:

  • [Place name] Altitudes Charts diagrams etc.

Descriptions of geologic sections or maps that include geologic sections may be found by searching these subjects in the Classic Catalog:

  • Geology [Place name] Charts diagrams etc.
  • Geology Stratigraphic Charts diagrams etc.
  • Geology [Place name] Maps
  • Geology Stratigraphic Maps

or even simply

  • [Place name] Maps

The discovery of profiles and sections, whether by systematic search or by serendipity, can be a small triumph worth sharing. Please let us know when you find one that you’d like to share.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Post new comment