Vote for the Sanborn Maps You Want to See Online Next

UPDATE: The people have spoken! We will digitize Sanborn maps from Winston-Salem next. It’s a great set — we’ll include maps from 1885, 1890, 1895, 1900, 1907, 1912, and 1917. The 1917 set is especially rich, covering the whole city and surrounding industrial areas on 112 sheets. Look for these to start appearing soon, with Durham and Hillsborough to come a little later. The full tally of votes is below.

The North Carolina Maps project is continuing to grow, with a big focus of the current year being the digitization of all of the pre-1923 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps in the North Carolina Collection. These are fantastic resources, showing towns and cities from around the state in incredible detail. Designed to be used by insurance agencies and local fire departments, the maps show the footprint, size, and purpose of most buildings in the city. The downtown areas are especially interesting as they show what kinds of businesses were located in each building. This example shows a block along South Front Street in Wilmington in 1904:

We’ve finished the sets of maps for Kinston, Wilmington, and Charlotte, and we’re working on Greensboro right now. Keep up with our progress on the Sanborn Map page on our website.

In an effort to democratize the digitization process, I’d like to have your help in choosing what city to work on next. All of the cities and towns for which pre-1923 maps are available will be done eventually, but if you can’t wait to see these fascinating maps for your hometown, cast your vote in the comments section below. For a full list of the cities and towns that are available, see the list of Sanborn maps on the NCC website.

Once we’re done with Greensboro (It’ll probably be about a week and half), I’ll count the votes and the city that has the most will be the one we work on next.

Grits Forever

Several years ago David Perry and the late Bill Neal published a brief tribute to a great dish: Good Old Grits Cookbook. I don’t make grits much any more. I don’t have time in the morning for slow cooked grits; I don’t much like quick cooked; and I can’t abide instant. Neal and Perry reminded me, however, that grits are not just for breakfast and fit in nicely with a main dish. I was particularly struck by “eggplant creole,” essentially a vegetable stew served over hot cheese grits. The dish may be a little warm for the summer, but it is at the top of my list for the first cool days of fall.