Patterns on the Land, an exhibit of faithful reproductions of rare maps from the museum’s Research Library and Archives collection, was first on display at Ventura City Hall in May 2019, followed by the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula in February 2020. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing many of the maps featured in Patterns on the Land and the stories they tell.

This week we will explore the “Sanborn Map Fire Insurance Map, 1928, Site Key” and “U.S. Coast Survey Map San Buenaventura and Vicinity, 1855.”

Map 3: Sanborn Map Fire Insurance Map, 1928, Site Key

The New York-based Sanborn Fire Insurance Company—a publishing company that made maps for insurance underwriters—began making maps for Ventura County in 1886. Among the essential elements of every Sanborn map are (1) the materials used in a building’s construction, indicated by a color code, (2) what a building was used for, (3) location of the closest water main, and (4) prevailing wind direction. Depending on the year of the map and the complexity of a building, many additional structural features were addressed by a series of symbols. The last volume printed for the City of Ventura occurred in 1928. After that, any additions / changes were printed and glued to the existing page. This volume has been corrected to 1946.

Be on the lookout! A virtual exhibit of Patterns on the Land will be available soon.

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