HomeInsuranceHistorical map series shows Marietta a century ago | News, Sports, Jobs

Historical map series shows Marietta a century ago | News, Sports, Jobs

If you live in Marietta, and you live in a home that was built more than 100 years ago, it is likely one of thousands that are included in the Sanborn Map Company fire insurance map series produced in 1915 and available online at the Library of Congress.

Sanborn was once a huge company that produced detailed maps of more than 12,000 cities and towns. The map series was produced so that insurance companies could assess a property when writing an insurance policy on it. They contained very detailed information on both cities and in many cases individual properties. They were sold to insurance companies as a cost-efficient way of determining fire risk. The use of the maps faded during the 1960s and the last map series was produced in 1977.

The 1915 set of Marietta is fascinating to look at. Here is a url to get you started. http://tinyurl.com/2ykb2v3s , or you can search for Sanborn fire map, Marietta, Ohio, where you will also get a link to the Ohio Web Library that contains Marietta maps from 1884 until 1952. To keep things simple, I will focus on the 1915 series.

Through 34 maps the series provides incredible details on every structure in town. The sample on this page is typical of the details on the maps. The map shows the block between Second and Third streets along Putnam Street. Including the Washington County Courthouse. Details about the interiors of the building are part of the map, with the location of the courtrooms and jails noted. The outline of homes on the map indicates the number of floors they had and their location on the lots. A 45-stall garage next to the courthouse also featured a machine shop. At the far end of the block was the Wakefield Hotel. The cigar shop, barber and kitchen are clearly marked on the map, as were the locations of the fire escape. The hotel was heated with steam heat and had both gas and electric lights.

This level of detail was evident all over town.

The location of waterlines and fire hydrants were also noted, as were the rail lines that ran through town. In fact, it is the most detailed map I have seen locating the tracks that crisscrossed Harmar, the downtown area and the industrial area out Greene Street. The maps frequently listed the uses of many buildings at a factory location.

The maps also provided details on both the fire and police department. The fire department then had two stations with seven firefighters and the chief was based out of the Putnam and Third Street station and three were based out of a station at Fort and Market streets in Harmar. The police department had a chief, one lieutenant, one station housekeeper and eight patrolmen. The population of Marietta at that time was about the same as it is today.

The maps worked because of the scale they were drawn at, with one inch equaling 50 feet. Each page was 21 by 25 inches. The company was created in 1866 by Daniel Sandborn. By 1916, the Sanborn Company was a map monopoly with 700 people used to map every city in the country. pdates between editions were sent out to be pasted on top of old. The service was funded by subscriptions.

Building codes and changes in the insurance industry lessen the need for specialized types of maps. Sandborn produced their last new map in 1977.

Today the maps are very valuable tools to trace the evolution of specific properties over time, allowing people like us to take a detailed look back at what Marietta and other communities looked like more than a century ago.

In an age where we have detailed maps available at our figure tips that are updated by roving Google cars and satellites, it is refreshing to see hand drawn maps of our community created by people walking the streets a century ago.

Art Smith is online manager of The Times, he can be reached at asmith@mariettatimes.com.

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