Maps of London

Almost 1200 maps of London and its immediate surroundings are found at the Crace Collection of Maps of London hosted by the British Library. The maps go from 1570 to 1860 and show the remarkable development of the city, and its ability to recover from such a disaster as the Great Fire of 1666 (as described by Samuel Pepys:” We stayed till, it being darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side of the bridge, and in a bow up the hill, for an arch of above a mile long. It made me weep to see it. The churches, houses, and all on fire and flaming at once, and a horrid noise the flames made, and the cracking of houses at their ruin.” Diary, Sunday, 2 September 1666) Every map is accompanied by a description and other data as well as having a zoomable feature that allows you to “blow up” the map’s details. For example, the 1854 map of what would become to be called the London Zoo can be enlarged so you can actually see the shadows that the mapmaker created for this map! There is an informative introduction by the curator as well as an overall description and arrangement scheme of the collection. For those wanting to seek out additional maps, you can visit the David Rumsey Map Collection for historical representations and the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection for more recent items.

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