Sanborn Maps and Google Street View

Sanborn Maps and Google Street View

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I’ve been having a heck of a time identifying which houses on E. 25th Street my ancestors and cousins lived in. Since most of the family lived on the street sometime between 1905-1960, it’s a safe bet that each house held someone I knew. But who lived where?

I ran into trouble trying to figure out which house number belonged to which house. The numbers didn’t seem to jive and some houses seemed to too new to be around when my ancestors first moved in.

It dawned on my that I had copies of Sanborn Fire Maps from two different eras. One map was from 1912 and the other 1928. I had painstakingly noted which family was in each house from the records I had researched. All that hard work was about to pay off.

I printed out each house on the block that I was interested in. Then after lining up each house in order, I compared them to the maps. Because I had a 16 year gap between maps I was able to see which houses were added to the neighborhood.

There were still some oddities. While it was very clear which houses were 100 years old or more, many just didn’t fit in. An apartment building now sat where the house at 2003 E. 25th Street used to be. Also, some houses looked way too new to have been their when my relatives roamed the road. Some had garages which were unheard of in 1907! When people got cars in the 1930s and 1940s they built a garage separate from their house. Some houses sported stucco when wood slats would have been more in vogue.

It was disappointing in some ways. The houses that didn’t seem to fit happened to be the ones where my great grandparents lived. Isn’t that always the way?

Were the old houses torn down and new ones built? Were these new facades? Were houses remodeled to bring them to modern sensibilities? At this point, I don’t have the answer.

After some work, I was able to match up houses and numbers. I now have somewhat of an idea of who lived in what house during which period. It’s not perfect, but it’s better that nothing! No doubt these mysteries will haunt me and I’ll be off on some new research trail in the future.

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