The Library of Virginia

Slave PopulationCorporations and private citizens create maps to claim property, Map of Virginia -- "Wet" and "Dry" assert legal rights, seek justice, and further their individual economic interests. In so doing, they record the values and concerns of their culture and society. Virginians have produced a wide variety of maps documenting everything from land disputes to the location of burial grounds. Maps of cities range from simple plats of lots to complicated documents displaying population densities, personal economic status, Virginia Official State Transportation Map, 1998 and crime rates. Land development companies printed inexpensive maps to advertise their lots for sale. Maps reflected the growing tourist trade beginning in the mid-1800s, and today's official state map distributed annually by the Virginia Department of Transportation highlights the many tourist destinations in the state.

Policy #811 for Samuel G. AdamsMaps of cities and towns also include maps used by fire insurance companies that detail the changes in building materials and the development of public services. Policies of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia, Illustrated Atlas of Richmond founded in 1794, include plans of the insured buildings, information about their size, composition, and locations. After the Civil War standardized insurance maps, such as those created by the Sanborn Company, used color to indicate building materials, building types, and roof types as well as water mains and the location of fire hydrants. Insurance maps enabled owners and city leaders to assess the fire potential for any block in the city.

When laying out towns and cities, surveyors imposed a grid pattern that often ignored the natural contours and features of the landscape. In the 1737 plan by William Mayo and James Wood, Richmond appeared flat despite the reality of hilly terrain and creeks running Lynchburg City Planthrough the town to the James River. Town planning using grids facilitated sale of standard lots. From the 1930s city governments have used maps to understand their cities and to plan urban development, including transportation arteries, parks, schools, and shopping centers. City plans, such as the 1934 plan of Lynchburg, merged base maps with statistical data that planners used to predict growth, manage transportation, and develop commercial centers.


Mapping Virginia

Image (23337 bytes)

Surveyors and Mapmakers

Mapping Technology

Vision of Empire

Building the Commonwealth

The Geography of Culture

Educators' Lesson Plans


Image (23337 bytes)