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Sanborn Maps

The Sanborn Maps were a series of maps of urbanized areas created by the Sanborn Map Company in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. They were used primarily by fire insurance agents to determine the degree of damage to a property and show accurate information to help them determine risks and establish premiums. The maps also described the status of local fire departments, water facilities, sprinklers, hydrants, cisterns, and alarm boxes as well as firewalls, windows, doors, elevators and chimneys and roof types. Because of their thoroughness and attention to detail, the maps have been praised by modern historians for providing "a guide to American urbanization that is unrivaled by other cartography and, for that matter, by few documentary resources of any kind."[1]




The September 1884 map gives the following information about Pensacola:

Population, 10,000. Prevailing Winds S.W. in Summer, N. in Winter.
2 Steam Fire Engines, 1 Hook & Ladder Co. 2000 Ft. of Hose, One Hundred & Fifty Firemen, Volunteer.
Water Facilities, Bay, Streams, Cisterns & Private Tanks.




The January 1882 map gives the following information about Pensacola:

Population 15000.
Prevailing Winds, S.W. in Summer, N. in Winter.
Water Facilities
Gravity System. 2 Deane Pumps. Independent pumps boilers and engine, Stand Pipe 137' high, 20' Diam. cap'y, 325000 Galls. Water can be pumped direct to mains. Cap'y of engines 2 Million Galls. per diem.
11 Miles of W. Pipes. Principal Main 14" Diam. 120 Hyd'ts.
Fire Department
Volunteer 225 Men. 6 Independent Hose Carts. 1 Steam Fire Engine. 1 Hook & Ladder Truck. 3000 ft. of Hose. Electric Fire Alarm System. 27 boxes.




The May 1903 map gives the following information about Pensacola:

Population 22,000
Prevailing Winds, S.W. in Summer, N. in Winter
Water Facilities Pensacola Water Co. Gravity and direct pressure system. Water supply from 14-4" and 4-6" driven wells, capacity 9000 galls. each per hour. 20 Miles of water pipes, 6", 12" & 14" diam. 193 Double hydrants. Gravity pressure 80 lbs. direct pressure 150 lbs. per sq. inch.
Water pumped to iron stand pipe capacity 325,000 galls. 137 ft high. by two Deane duplex pumps, cap'y 2 million galls each per 24 hours.
Two storage reservoirs at pumping station, capacity 300,000 galls. each.
Fire Department, Paid. 28 Men. Gamewell fire alarm system, 34 boxes.
Four hose carts. 750 ft 2½" hose to each.
One hook & ladder truck.
One 3d class Silsby steam fire engine.
3500 ft. 2½" hose in good condition.
Grades nearly level throughout town.


  • The index map incorrectly shows Tarragona Street as the divider of east-west streets, instead of Palafox. Interior sheets show the correct addresses, however.



The 1907 map gives the following information about Pensacola:

Population 27,000
Prevailing Winds S.W. in Summer, North in Winter
Water Facilities
Water supplied by the Pensacola Water Co. mains cover all principal parts of the city. All its hydrants are shown on key map. Water supply from 12 - four inch driven wells supplying about 110,000 galls. per hour.
Water pumped by two Deane duplex pumping engines, capacity two million galls. each per day. into stand pipe 137 ft. high on North Hill. capacity 332000 galls. and also into elevated tank of similar height on East Hill, capacity 100,000 galls.
Two storage reservoirs at pumping station, capacity 300,000 galls. each.
177 Double hydrants. 24 miles of water pipes, total. 12" main on Palafox St. South from pumping station, others are 6 inch. Average pressure from stand pipe 70 lbs. Direct pressure 150 lbs per sq. inch.
The city has arranged for purchase of water works, and will obtain possession about Jan'y 1908, when extensive alterations will be made.
Fire Department
Paid, 27 men including chief and electrician. 12 Horses. Gamewell fire alarm system 32 boxes, private telephone wire, simultaneous notice to all fire companies, and fire bells.
One 3 horse Amer-LaFrance truck, 55 ft. ladder, swinging harness.
Four hose wagons, 800 ft. 2½" hose each. 3500 ft. of good 2½" hose in all.
One Silsby 3d class steam fire engine in reserve.
Each fire company carries two 3 gall Babcock extinguishers.
All apparatus drawn by horses.
Grades of city practically level.
Fire Limits. Conditions - New buildings to be built of brick, stone, cement or iron. One story building - walls 13", two stories 13"-13", three stories 17"-13"-13", four stories 21"-17"-13"-13", five stories 21"-21"-17"-13"-13". Roofs - metal, slate or other incombustible material. Frame buildings damaged 50% are to be removed. Iron clad buildings allowed only when over water. Repairs to roofs must be of incombustible materials.



  • B. & S. — Books and stationery
  • Bill'ds — Billiards
  • Bl'ksm. — Blacksmith
  • Board'g — Boarding
  • Carp'r — Carpenter
  • Cist. — Cistern
  • Clo. — Clothier
  • D., Dwg. — Dwelling
  • D. G. — Dry goods
  • Fac. — Factory
  • Furn'e. — Furniture
  • Genl Mdse — General merchandise
  • Gen'l S. — General store
  • Gro. — Grocery
  • Hardw. — Hardware
  • Ho. — House, as in Carriage Ho. or Ice Ho.
  • Hyd. — Hydrant
  • Ins. Off. — Insurance office
  • Mach. Shop &mdash Machine shop
  • Mill'y. — Millinery
  • Off. — Office
  • P. O. — Post office
  • R. C. Church — Roman Catholic church
  • Rest., Rest'r't, Restau'rt — Restaurant
  • Rm. — Room
  • S. — Store
  • Sal. — Saloon
  • Vac. — Vacant
  • Who., Whol. — Wholesale
  • W. Ho., Wa. Ho., Ware Ho. — Warehouse

External links & referencesEdit

  1. Keister, Kim. 1993. “Charts of Change.” Historic Preservation, vol. 45 no. 3. May/June pp. 42-49.