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Architecture: Site Documentation

This guide presents resources on various aspects of architecture including history, theory, design and technology.

Site Documentation

Syracuse University Libraries Map Collection

The Library's Map Room is the location for cartographic materials in a variety of formats. With a collection of over 195,000 sheet maps, 5000 atlases, 80,000 aerial photos, and 50,000 maps in microform, the map collection also has an expanding collection of maps in a digital format. The collection also has a collection of Sanborn fire insurance atlases, along with a teaching collection of globes and wall maps. The collection also has an extensive reference collection of gazetteers, place-name guides, geographical dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies, directories, and guide-books.

The maps, atlases and other cartographic materials are cataloged in the library's online catalog or can be found in SUMMON. A member of the staff will be glad to assist you with any questions you may have regarding the collections or finding the materials you need.

Most maps can be circulated or checked out at the Maps/Documents Service Desk on the 3rd floor. A valid SU or SUNY-ESF ID is required. Atlases, Reference titles, and aerial photographs do not circulate.

Reference Assistance: Consult John Olson, map librarian at 443-4818 or jaolson@syr.edu for specific holdings information or reference assistance.

The following subject pages outline research in this area:

Government Documents,

Geographic Information Systems (GIS),

Geography - HumanMaps

Cartographic resources include sheet maps (flat files), city and state maps (some still in vertical files), atlases, aerial photographs, and electronic  resources.

Sanborn (Fire insurance) maps are a vital resource.  John Olson’s subject  page  provides details on holdings and format. See the online database for holdings from the 1860’s to 1970’s. Go to the Databases tab and type in Sanborn.

(The map/atlas format is best searched by keyword.)

Travel guides are another source of documentation. Important series include: Baedeker (published by Karl Baedeker and dating from the mid-nineteenth century), Michelin, Touring Club Italiano, Prestel city guides, and the Access series by Richard Saul Wurman. Architectural series include the AIA guides and The City Observed. 

Local and area resources including planning agencies, local history organizations, and real estate offices can help provide documentation.

Web sites (specific cities, specific organizations) are important sources. Follow guidelines for determining the authority of the site.

Soil Surveys - Online soil maps and data for more than 95 percent of the nation's counties. Includes geospatial data, papers, reports and monographs.

Searching the online Catalog: (Typical subject headings include)

Florence (Italy)--City planning history 


San Francisco (Calif.)--Description and travel


City planning--Jerusalem