ArcGIS Living Atlas

Historical Topo Map Explorer (beta)

The USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer is getting an update, and you can try out this new beta version, here:

USGS Topo Map Explorer

The United States Geological Survey has a rich history of creating exquisite topographic quadrangle maps. These topo maps are available as a digital library spanning 125 years. The Historical Topo Map Explorer provides a visual way to search and explore these thousands of maps via geographic extent, publication year, and map scale.

USGS Topo Map Explorer filters

Create beautiful mashups of old and new by blending modern World Hillshade into these historic maps for added topographic context and visual interest.

USGS Topo Map Explorer blended hillshade

Just as you might with a collection of actual paper topographic maps, you can pick out digital maps of interest and pin them together to assemble a broad coverage…

USGS Topo Map Explorer pinned topos create a broad scale coverage.

…or you might stack up several maps of the same location to compare its changed mapping over time.

USGS Topo Map Explorer pinned topos to see change over time.

These topo maps can be downloaded to your computer as spatially-aware GeoTIFF image files and added to an ArcGIS Pro project…

Downloading a local image file from the USGS Topo Map Explorer

…or you may prefer to work in ArcGIS Online and save a topo map, or pinned collection of topo maps, as a new Web Map.

Save topo maps from the USGS Topo Map Explorer as an ArcGIS Online web map

Explore historical topo maps on your mobile device, too.

Save topo maps from the USGS Topo Map Explorer on a mobile device

If you need a historic reference, are comparing change, or just revel in exploring the beautiful collection of USGS topographic quads, we welcome you to visit the Historic Topo Map Explorer beta. We have lots of plans for future releases and we welcome your ideas too! Please comment with your suggestions and feedback.

Happy Mapping!

John Nelson, Calvin Manning, and Ken Baloun

About the authors

I have far too much fun looking for ways to understand and present data visually, hopefully driving product strategy and engaging users. I work in the ArcGIS Living Atlas team at Esri, pushing and pulling data in all sorts of absurd ways and then sharing the process. I also design user experiences for maps and apps. When I'm not doing those things, I'm chasing around toddlers and wrangling chickens, and generally getting into other ad-hoc adventures. Life is good. You might also like these Styles for ArcGIS Pro:


Calvin Manning

Web Developer with the Living Atlas of the World.


Ken Baloun

Ken is a Principal Project Manager at Esri and works with both the ArcGIS Living Atlas Website Development Team and Live Feeds Team. Email

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