Hst 494: Historic Portland Maps: Welcome

Guide created in support of Dr. Schechter's Winter 2022 Course on the History of Portland


This guide was created to assist you in locating maps materials for Portland's Peninsula Park area. The guide includes

  • Print maps and atlases held by PSU, the Oregon Historical Society, and other partner libraries in Oregon.
  • A guide to online Sanborn Maps, which include block-level details about every street in Portland through the first half of the 20th century.
  • USGS Historical Maps, which show the how the geography of the city has changed since the 1890s.
  • Library of Congress Maps, which show how the city as a whole has evolved since the late 19th century.
  • Home Owners' Loan Corporation, insurance maps that famously allowed redlining to contribute to segregation in US cities.

Themes for the Session

  • How to read maps.
    • Scale, Legend, Directional Orientation
  • Types of non-digital maps
    • panorama, topo, bound atlases, census tract, and my personal favorite: relief maps.
  • Finding maps in the catalog.
  • Questioning maps:  creator, biases, purpose. 
    • Why was this made? What is the purpose? Who made it? How does this effect design?
  • Limitations of physical maps.
    • Like all historical sources, maps are imperfect representations and can be misinterpreted.
  • Using digital maps for this assignment.
    • Sanborn, USGS, LoC digital maps.


Profile Photo
Joan Petit
Email: jpetit@pdx.edu
Phone: 503-725-4542
Office: 280F, Library