New York Map & Atlas Guide

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Any Historical New York Map can indicate who owned specific property in the state and which towns held the county seat at the time.  This information is a valuable starting point for your research pointing you to the right location of records.

Solving Research Problems with a New York Maps – If you have started your family research, you might have experienced trouble with trying to identify New York city borders and names that have changed over the course of time. This can make it difficult to understand where your ancestors’ information is kept.

Because New York historic maps were usually commissioned by the county seat, they often display information about the county, including town names. Reading a New York map from the time period you are researching can help tremendously in solving these problems by leading you to the correct town records. It can also give you other leads, such as the location of city directories or old post offices in New York.

New York Map of Counties

New York Map of Counties

Choosing the Best New York Map – If you have a large source of maps to choose from, try starting with the area where your ancestors resided and looking for the maps with the most detail.  You can determine a lot by seeing if the area was still rural or more developed, and how far it was to the nearest city.  This can shed light on your family’s lifestyle and occupation. Were they farmers who lived in the country, or merchants who traveled often to a nearby city?  A map can give you an idea of what occupations were possible.

The first place to obtain a map is in each county, usually in the county treasurer’s office for a dollar or two. Most maps are large enough to show all county roads, and a further benefit is that most show the towns in different colors, making them easily distinguishable. Many more maps can be found at the courthouse in the county clerk’s or tax offices. They can be useful for locating a specific piece of property; but the further back in time, the fewer maps will be available. A map is sometimes included with a recorded deed.

More detailed maps are available for cities, villages, and towns, and a good place to look for these would be local libraries. U.S. topographical maps are useful for locating cemeteries. Excellent map collections are at the New York Public Library, the New York State Library, and the New-York Historical Society.

Numerous county maps are found in county histories and county atlases. Accurate maps of historical changes in towns, cities, and villages are few.

The New York State Center for Geographic Information  has a good collection of paper and digital maps for sale, and its website is linked to online digital images of the U.S. Geological Survey quadrangle maps.

New York Map of County Formations For The Years 1790-1897

These New York maps shows the historical changes to New York counties from 1790 to 1897.

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New York Map Abbreviations
unorg. = unorganized
g. = gained
w. = with
fr. = from
atmt. = attachment
exch = exchanged
nca.= non county area
ch. = changed

Alb - Albany
All - Allegany
Brm - Broome
Brx - Bronx
Cat - Cattaraugus
Cay - Cayuga
Cl - Clinton
Cmg - Chemung
Cnn - Chenango
Col - Columbia
Ctl - Cortland
Ctq - Chautauqua
De - Delaware
Dut - Dutchess
Er - Erie
Es - Essex
Fr - Franklin
Fu - Fulton
Ge - Genesee
Gr - Greene
Ha - Hamilton
He - Herkimer
Je - Jefferson
Ki - Kings
Le - Lewis
Li - Livingston
Ma - Madison
Mro - Monroe
Mty - Montgomery
Na - Nassau
Ni - Niagara
NY - New York
One - Oneida
Ono - Onondaga
Ont - Ontario
Ora - Orange
Orl - Orleans
Os - Oswego
Ot - Otsego
Pu - Putnam
Qu - Queens
Re - Rensselaer
Ri - Richmond
Ro - Rockland
Sa - Saratoga
Sen - Seneca
Shr - Schoharie
SL - St. Lawrence
St - Steuben
Sty - Schenectady
Suf - Suffolk
Sul - Sullivan
Syr - Schuyler
Ti - Tioga
To - Tompkins
Ul - Ulster
War - Warren
Was - Washington
Way - Wayne
Wes - Westchester
Wy - Wyoming
Ya - Yates

New York Maps & Atlases

1836 New York MapThe David Rumsey Historical New York Map Collection is scanned from original copies so you can see New York as our ancestors saw them over a hundred years ago.

Some New York map years (not all) have cities, railroads, P.O. locations, township outlines and other features useful to the New York researcher.

Disclaimer: All New York maps are free to use for your own genealogical purposes and may not be reproduced for resale or distribution.

External Links for New York Maps

U.S. State Map Guides