About the Map Division

The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division is one of the world’s premier map collections in terms of size, scope, unique holdings, diversity and intensity of use. Established in 1898, our holdings include more than 433,000 sheet maps and 20,000 books and atlases published between the 16th and 21st centuries. The collections range from the global to the local scale and support the learning and research needs of a wide variety of users.

In-Person Research

Researchers can access the collections in our splendid reading room (renovated in 2005) by browsing our open shelf reference books, our dictionary catalog, or with the guidance of our staff. Most maps and atlases are stored on closed shelves and are typically brought to the reader in less than an hour. A valid library card is required. (Apply for a card here.) Laptops are welcome as our reading room is Wi-Fi enabled and equipped with ample power outlets. There are also six computer workstations with access to databases, mapping sites, and collection portals. Non-flash photography is allowed, and reproductions are made at the discretion of the staff: see the Library's Photography & Photocopy Policy for details.

Plan Your Visit

We encourage you to plan your research visit. Please note that portions of our collection may be temporarily unavailable and requesting materials in advance will help you make the most of your visit.

Class and Group Visits

Our staff welcomes students and instructors to explore the collections and resources at our landmark 42nd Street building. We work with educators to design class visits that use the Library's remarkable collections to foster creative inquiry, build critical thinking and information literacy skills, and inspire wonder and excitement around the process of research. Learn more. 

Online Research

Search our collections  using NYPL's online catalog and historical printed card catalog, consult our various online map research guides, browse our NYC Land Atlases, and read our New York City Maps research guide. Find out more about map collections, classes, programs, and activities through our blog posts, tweets, and Instagram page. Or simply learn "How to Read a Map."

City Maps

Maps and atlases documenting the urban environment throughout the world represent a core strength of the collection, with the historical New York City map holdings among the deepest and most heavily used anywhere. With more than 2,000 sheet maps and 18,000 atlas map sheets illustrating the city and its five boroughs before 1922 (often to the building level), this collection is a critical support to many researchers of the local environment. For a guide to what has been digitized from this collection, please click here.

Antiquarian Maps

Our antiquarian atlas and map collection includes many important Dutch, English, and French imprints dating to the 16th century. Initially formed from the collections of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox, the holdings were augmented by significant gifts including the Ford Collection, John Levine Bequest, Emmet Collection, and Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection. The antiquarian map collection is supported by a strong corpus of secondary resources for its use and study, including: illustrated and annotated cartobibliographies, histories of cartography, periodicals, price guides, as well as dealer and auction catalogs.

Topographic Maps

The Map Division holds over 150,000 topographic maps, including historical map sets from the founders’ libraries such as Cassini’s Carte de France… covering pre-Revolution France in 175 sheets. The bulk of our topographic maps, however, came to the NYPL during the 20th century as part of the (FLDP) Federal Library Depository Program with significant map coverages added through aggressive collection development policies aimed at deepening map strength for the entire world.

Digitized Maps

Over 23,000 maps have been digitized and are available to on the NYPL Digital Collections page