Maps

After almost twenty years of depression and war, 1945 saw Pennsylvania standing on the precipice of growth and change.  Maps provide an interesting window through which to view the changes associated with the growth of postwar suburbanization. Aerial maps, county breakdowns of housing data, municipal planning commission maps, and historic topographical maps illustrate more than just the sheer explosion of suburbs in America.  Maps offer us the chance to analyze where, when, and how a specific area experienced growth.

Aerial Photography    

             Useful Links
Penn Pilot: a project sponsored by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey that contains aerial photography for PA.

These images can chart the important physical changes made to the landscape over time.  Feel free to browse historic aerials through PennPilot's website, which contains historic aerial photographs of Pennsylvania from 1937-1942, 1957-1962 and 1967-1972.

In the example below, note the drastic changes that took place in 30 years along the Delaware River in Ridley Township.  Dense population growth has occurred which highly altered the landscape.

1939 Aerial of Ridley Park, PA
Ridley Park, 1939

1971 Aerial of Ridley Park, PA
Ridley Park, 1971

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County and Municipality

           Useful Data
Suburbs Database (Excel file): If you have access to GIS software, you can download the data used to create the county and municipality maps below. 

Using the resources of the Pennsylvania State Data Center, Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access, and the U.S. Census Bureau, researchers can compile data and create individual maps for profiling statewide, county or municipal suburban development across Pennsylvania.  The maps below were created by BHP using ArcGIS Software by ESRI.

1940-1960: The following county maps show the increase in housing units between 1940 and 1960 based on the total number of housing units of 1990.

 1940 - 1960 New Residential Housing Units by Municipality

Adams

Allegheny

Armstrong

Beaver

Bedford

Berks

Blair

Bradford

Bucks

Butler

Cambria

Cameron

Carbon

Centre

Chester

Clarion

Clearfield

Clinton

Columbia

Crawford

Cumberland

Dauphin

Delaware

Elk

Erie

Fayette

Forest

Franklin

Fulton

Greene

Huntingdon

Indiana

Jefferson

Juniata

Lackawanna

Lancaster

Lawrence

Lebanon

Lehigh

Luzerne

Lycoming

McKean

Mercer

Mifflin

Monroe

Montgomery

Montour

Northampton

Northumberland

Perry

Philadelphia

Pike

Potter

Schuylkill

Snyder

Somerset

Sullivan

Susquehanna

Tioga

Union

Venango

Warren

Washington

Wayne

Westmoreland

Wyoming

York

         

1960-1970: The following county maps show the increase in housing units between 1960 and 1970 based on the total number of housing units of 1990. 

 1960 - 1970 New Residential Housing Units by Municipality

Adams

Allegheny

Armstrong

Beaver

Bedford

Berks

Blair

Bradford

Bucks

Butler

Cambria

Cameron

Carbon

Centre

Chester

Clarion

Clearfield

Clinton

Columbia

Crawford

Cumberland

Dauphin

Delaware

Elk

Erie

Fayette

Forest

Franklin

Fulton

Greene

Huntingdon

Indiana

Jefferson

Juniata

Lackawanna

Lancaster

Lawrence

Lebanon

Lehigh

Luzerne

Lycoming

McKean

Mercer

Mifflin

Monroe

Montgomery

Montour

Northampton

Northumberland

Perry

Philadelphia

Pike

Potter

Schuylkill

Snyder

Somerset

Sullivan

Susquehanna

Tioga

Union

Venango

Warren

Washington

Wayne

Westmoreland

Wyoming

York

         

The state maps help to give a bigger picture of what was happening in Pennsylvania housing after World War II. We have provided maps of the total housing units, and also percentages. Percentage Growth maps show the percentage growth of housing units based on 1990 totals, meaning that 100% of the houses were built by 1990.  The maps account for that percent that was built between 1940 and 1970.  For example if you take a look at the 1940-1970 Percentage Growth map one can truly have an understanding of suburban growth within Pennsylvania.

New Residential Housing by Municipality in Pennsylvania

1940-1960 New Housing Units

1940-1960 Percentage Growth

 

1960-1970 New Housing Units

1960-1970 Percentage Growth

1940-1970 Percentage Growth

*Natural break was used in all of the maps except the maps dealing with percentages. Based on the data we determined the range of percentages used for mapping. Projection used on all maps was State Plain Pennsylvania South Projection.

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Historic Maps    

Useful Links
MyTopo
Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access
Historical Maps of Pennsylvania 
  PennDOT
Pennsylvania State Archives
Pennsylvania State Library

Historic Maps can offer multiple dynamics in terms of research into trend and features dealing with suburban growth.  Simple internet searches or trips to your nearest library can uncover these sources.  We recommend a couple of repositories and search strategies in particular.

Internet Sources
Internet Sources such as MyTopo, the Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access , and Historical Maps of Pennsylvania have topographic maps, modern atlas maps, and road maps that can detail the growth of towns, cities, and outlying areas that is a sign of suburban development.  A general comparison of the United States Geological Survey 1:24,000 Quadrangle of Allentown from 1939 to 1957 revealed sizable growth in housing in a number of areas around the city such as this one near Mountainville.

1939 USGS topo map of Allentown
U.S.G.S. Topo Map, Allentown 1939

1957 USGS topo map of Allentown
U.S.G.S. Topo Map, Allentown 1957

 

Repositories
Many universities and educational organizations gather geographic materials useful for the study of their particular region.  Listed below is a sample of such repositories.

 Historic Pittsburgh's City of Pittsburgh
Geodetic and Topographic Suvey Maps, 1923-1961

   Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network's 
"GeoHistory Resources"

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
PennDOT offers pdf links to historic Official Tourism and Transportation Maps and historic county maps at the PennDOT's website.

Historic map of Bucks County
Historic Map of Bucks County
Courtesy of PennDOT

Pennsylvania State Archives
The Pennsylvania State Archives offers an important collection of historic maps from the postwar period. The example below demonstrates what the Pennsylvania State Archives has in its Map Collection, Manuscript Group 11 for Cambria County. 

Date

Subject

Cartographer/Publisher

Map Number

1945

Historical

Wilt

 327-11

1952

Traffic Volume

Department of Highways

 822

1962

General

Department of Transportation & United
States Department of Commerce

 519-11

Pennsylvania State Library
The Pennsylvania State Library offers an important collection of historic maps that can chart suburban growth in Pennsylvania.  The library's database contains a variety of maps ranging from transportation, zoning to planning commission maps.  The example below demonstrates what the Pennsylvania State Library has to offer researchers.

Map Title

Location

Cartographer/Publisher

Date

Aerial Photographs as Tax Maps

Harrisburg

Pennsylvania State Planning Board

1952

Annin Township Zoning Map

Erie

Neathery - Norton Associates

1955

A part of the Comprehensive Master Plan for the
Borough Planning Commission, Donora Borough

Monroeville

Donora Planning Commission

1965

Philadelphia and Vicinity

Philadelphia

N/A

1955-56

Map of the Borough and Suburbs of Phillipsburg

Phillipsburg

N/A

1958


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