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Historic Topographic Maps of California: Home

This project provides web access to the topographic quadrangles produced by the US Geological Survey between 1885 and 2003. It includes selected editions of 7.5- & 15-minute quads covering the San Francisco Bay Area and the Monterey Bay regions.

Links to the Maps

Click on the links below to access the maps for each region:

Project Background

This Pilot Project was first conceived in May 1999 to provide Web access to high use maps from the University of California-Berkeley's Earth Sciences and Map Library's collection. One-time funds were requested and received from the Library's collections budget to cover scanning and other project costs. The U.S. Geological Survey's topographic quadrangles of the San Francisco Bay region were selected for digitizing. These maps are in the Public Domain and have no copyright restrictions, and the geographic area selected is of high use and interest to our primary clientele, as well as off-site users.

Access is provided to both the 15- and 7.5-minute USGS topographic quadrangles, spanning more than 100 years of mapping (1885-1999). Geographic coverage extends from Pt. Reyes south to Half Moon Bay and east to Antioch, Livermore and San Jose. Historic topographic maps are invaluable for tracking changes in land use, development of transportation systems, and growth of urban areas. 350 maps were carefully selected to represent a historic perspective of the changing landscape of the region from rural to densely urban. Efforts were made to only digitize first editions of quadrangles and not use reprint editions where the date of situation was uncertain. Some editions of the quadrangles were published by the Corps of Engineers, the Army Map Service, or the Defense Mapping Agency.


Maps were digitized at the USGS's National Mapping Division, initially at the Rocky Mountain Center, later at the Reston facility. Maps were scanned at 800 dpi, 24 bit color on an Anatech 4080C scanner. Map image file sizes ranged from 600 MB to 1.3 GB each and were saved as uncompressed tiff files. For the Web presentation, images were converted to LizardTech's MrSid format at a compression ratio of 40:1. No other image enhancements or manipulations were made. Shipment of image files back to the library was on CD-ROMS and DLT IV media. Final scanning of the collection was completed in July 2001

Tools developed by UC Berkeley for archival collections called Making of America II (MOA II) were used for this project. Bibliographic, administrative, image, and metadata were keyed into a relational database. XML encoded digital objects were created from this database, stored in a repository, then presented on the Web with a MOA II Java viewer. Thumbnail images were derived from the MrSid images in jpeg format. A link from thumbnail images to the MrSid online viewer allows users to zoom into each image at ever increasing resolutions.


Thanks go to Susan Lowell, Librarian for the National Mapping Division Historical Map Archives of the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA, for contacting us and first proposing collaboration between the USGS and our Library on this project. Her input and insistence on maintaining high standards for digitization of the collection resulted in obtaining truly archival quality images. Equal thanks go to John R. Evans, of the Reston National Mapping Division, for coordinating all facets of the scanning operations. Library Systems programmer Rick Beaubien coordinated all technical aspects of the MOA2 tools and Internet server functions. John Creaser, Earth Science & Map Library, initiated and coordinated the project, provided Web design and graphics, and data entry