Skip to main content

Theories of Housing and Urbanism: Image Databases

Handout on Images (with live links)

Remember: images and other media should be cited, just as you would cite books and other textual material. While specific style varies by citation style (Chicago, MLA, APA, et cetera) the basic needs remain the same: title, creator, source (i.e. website, if applicable), date of creation, date of access. 

For example: Last name, First name Middle initial of creator of image. “Title of image” or Description. Digital Image. Title of Website. Month Day, Year Published. Accessed date. URL.

Things to Consider when Seeking Images

In the study of the built environment, it is important to shift your thinking about images from regarding images as merely illustrations to considering them as objects for investigation and information in themselves. Images contain unique information that cannot be adequately communicated through other means, particularly in this avenue of study. Interrogate the images you look for and find, and carefully consider what each image communicates and the information that the image provides.

When searching for images and multimedia materials, it is important to consider your search terms and objectives in a similar manner as you would when searching for textual material. Once you have a sense of what you are looking for, you will have a better sense of where to look for images. 

There are three general categories of places where you will find images and other multimedia material.

1. Where materials are produced - creators such as architects, artists, photographers, other creators

2. Where materials are reproduced - publications and publishers such as journals, newspapers, books

3. Where materials are collected - repositories such as archives, libraries, websites, museums, and other institutions

Many of these locations will overlap, and you will find that some of these locations will be more useful for you than others, depending on the focus of your research.

General Image and Media Resources

Online Map Resources

Digital Map and Geographic Data: The Princeton University Library Digital Maps and Geospatial Center's database includes paper maps and aerial photographs; all the paper maps were scanned at 400 dpi with 256 colors; aerial photographs were scanned at 800 dpi. 

GEOMAP is the online catalog of Princeton University Library's Map Collection. 
The catalog does not yet hold records for all maps in the collection. Currently the Map Collection houses over 325,000 maps. If upon searching GEOMAP, you are not successful in locating what you need or have questions about the collection, please contact the Map Room Staff.

Digital Sanborn Maps (1867-1970): Sanborn fire insurance maps contain detailed information on urban structures, property boundaries, and streets. Provides historical information on the history, growth, and development of American cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Fire Insurance Maps Online: Provides access to a digital collection of historical color fire insurance maps, real estate atlases, and similar land use maps for North America. High definition, color and gray-scale images display important historical details not visible on black and white map scans. Includes map research tools and search tips to make finding maps for a specific location easy. Maps include publications by Sanborn, Perris, Hexamer, Whipple, Baist, Bromley, Hopkins and others.

Historic Map WorksDigitized maps and atlases, plus associated illustrations and city directories. Includes cadastral maps of the U.S. Covers the world from the 15th-20th centuries.

Philadelphia neighborhoodBase: This is a publicly-accessible, web-based, geographic data application developed by the University of Pennsylvania's Cartographic Modeling Lab. Along with parcelBase, muralBase, and crimeBase, neighborhoodBase is one of four applications that comprise the Neighborhood Information System. The neighborhoodBase website is designed to assist community-based planning and development organizations, government agencies, researchers and concerned individuals in their efforts to analyze, transform and revitalize Philadelphia neighborhoods.