Property’s Morning Obsession: Historic Philadelphia Maps Revealed for the First Time

David Rumsey is a man obsessed–and we mean that in the best way. He’s been collecting maps and related ephemera for 25 years and has accumulated more than 150,000 examples of cartographic materials–which includes what you’d expect (atlases, wall maps, globes) as well as books of exploration, schoolbooks and odd antique drawings that have peripheral connection to the other objects.

What’s exciting now is the fact that 38,000 of these items are online in hi-res, navigable, zoomable versions, and maximized for the digital space. There are numerous historic Philadelphia maps and ephemera from Pennsylvania and the Greater Philadelphia area–one of which (below) is a statistical atlas from 1883 that shows where foreign-born residents come from (Ireland is the big winner). There’s another map below with some recognizable features that’s rather fascinating, as well as a rather funny drawing by one of the most important mapmakers of his time–the kind of thing that Rumsey has in his collection that makes every look a surprise. The three examples demonstrate the breadth of his interests.

David Rumsey Map Collection [homepage]

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