Fire insurance maps are produced to provide information to insurers about the composition and use of buildings in order to provide correct underwriting of policies. These maps, primarily produced in the United States by the Sanborn Company, are now historically important documents of the towns and cities from the start of the late 19th Century. The maps include: building footprints; building material shown by color, height and number of stories; features such as doors, windows, chimneys, and elevators; address and lot lines; uses such as dwellings, hotels, churches, and chicken coops; street widths, water pipes, hydrants, and cisterns, and occasionally the ethnicity of the occupants. These maps are now heavily used to study the history of a place by historians, genealogists, urban planners, and ethnic studies. Stanford Libraries holds maps mainly of California and has scanned those that are out of copyright.

Mission Beach, California 1929

Mission Beach in San Diego County, California has long been a tourist destination. Mission Beach Amusement Center, shown here, was built by business mogul John D. Spreckels in 1925 in hopes of stimulating development in the area where he owned real estate. Only two structures remain from the original park, the wooden Giant Dipper roller coaster and the Natatorium. The roller coaster was restored in 1989-1990 and was designated a National Historic Landmark on July 4, 1990. The Natatorium, designed by architect Frank Walter Stevenson, was built in 1925 and originally was filled with seawater. The building had a retractable roof to allow for indoor and outdoor swimming. The Natatorium, now called The Plunge, is under restoration with an expected completion in 2019. The original park included a ballroom capable of holding 5,000 dancers, a roller skating rink, a merry-go-round, a fun house, and a "wonderland." Belmont Park now is a full-fledged amusement park with rides, swimming, and a boardwalk.