The Whipple Fire Insurance Maps Project

The 19th-century St. Louis fire insurance maps are an important source of historical information to study the growth and development of post-Civil War St. Louis. By 1870, a tide of immigrants had swollen the St. Louis population to over 310,000 and the city had grown from an important frontier commercial center to the 4th largest city in the nation. Originally created for the fire insurance industry, these maps provide the most complete visual record of the evolving built environment in St. Louis, covering commercial, industrial, and residential neighborhoods. Urban planners, architects, urban archeologists, and historians as well as to those engaged in family, neighborhood, and house history regularly consult the fire insurance maps.

Washington University Libraries and the Missouri Historical Society hold approximately 3,300 fire insurance maps produced in St. Louis by Alphonso Whipple between 1870 and 1898. Currently, use of these maps is restricted by their brittle condition, but through this joint digital project, are now being made available to the public.