Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sanborn Insurance Maps/Menasha Boat Company Cont'd

In past blog posts, I have alluded to Sanborn Maps but have neglected to discuss them in detail.  Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are meticulously detailed, large-scale lithographed, color-keyed street maps that helped insurance agents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries determine the degree of fire hazard associated with a particular property. These maps typically focus on the business districts within communities, and as such, prove time and again, to be invaluable tools of history and a record of their time. Features include street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, locations of fire hydrants, locations of water and gas mains, and the names of most public buildings, churches and companies. The maps also document the strength of the local fire department and the presence of fire hazards such as blacksmith forges, large baker's ovens or stored kerosene, and the existence of firefighting equipment, cisterns or community water works. Rivers, canals, railroad corridors and similar features are also noted. Each map provides a detailed assessment of the buildings within a district. Assessments include an outline of each building and outbuilding, the size and number of stories of every building, the location of windows and doors, fire walls, and indications of sprinkler systems. They note the nature of the business or businesses which occupied individual buildings, sometimes even particular room uses. They list the type of construction and the composition of building materials including the framing, flooring, and roofing materials.

So, it comes as a bit of a surprise to see our very own Little Lake Butte des Morts listed as Lake Winnebago, as shown above in this 1900 version of our fair town.  One hopes the meticulousness of the preparers in detailing construction of the town's buildings would have carried over to the geography of the area.  But considering that these were published out of a Chicago regional office for an upstate New York publisher, one suspects that their overworked surveyors were entitled to a mistake once in a while. 

Yesterday's post about the Menasha Boat Company also continues here.  The large master map, located above, shows that map sheet no. 9 is required to view the Menasha Boat Company.  The first illustration is an extract from map sheet no. 9 showing that company's location on the no longer existent Prospect Street, just north of Third.

Sanborn Maps are available for your review via the Wisconsin Historical Society's web site as well as the Library of Congress.  They are well worth your time.

1 comment:

  1. The Menasha and Neenah Public Libraries have paper copies of the Sanborn Maps for various years for both Neenah and Menasha. You are free to photocopy, photograph, or scan these maps at minimal or no cost.