Maps and plans

Maps and plans

List of resources

Historical maps are a rich source of information when you are researching your house history. Maps often contain information about your house or local area not available elsewhere.

There is a broad array of maps covering the City of Sydney local government area which trace its evolution from the first European settlement to today. Many of these maps are now online.

  • City Boundaries and Wards 1842-2004

    This section of the Historical Atlas of Sydney, 'City Boundaries and Wards 1842-2004', has a timeline and maps that can be used to establish whether your house was once in a different municipality or changed wards over time.

  • Historical Atlas of Sydney

    The Historical Atlas of Sydney provides access to the key maps and map series held by City of Sydney Archives. The maps range from the 19th and 20th centuries and were produced variously by Council itself, other government authorities or private surveying firms and individuals. The historical atlas also provides background to Council’s evolving boundaries from 1842 until today. New content from the City’s archives will be added over time.

  • National Library of Australia maps

    The National Library of Australia's map collection includes over 600,000 maps, from early European charts to current mapping of Australia, in print and digital form. There are a number of subdivision plans of Sydney in the collection.

  • Search the NLA's Map Collection

    This guide provides advice on how to search for maps in the National Library of Australia's catalogue.

  • State Library of NSW map collection guide

    This guide to the State Library of NSW's maps collection will help you find and use maps in their collections, both online and in the library. The guide covers finding and viewing maps, getting copies, and information about significant maps in the collection. You will also find online resources for learning more about maps

  • NSW parish and historical maps

    Historical land ownership was recorded on parish maps. NSW's parish and historical maps are essential records of early land ownership in NSW.

  • New maps at the State Library of NSW

    Keep up-to-date with the new maps acquired to the State Library of NSW's collection by subscribing to the library's RSS feed.

  • Archives In Brief 81 - Parish map preservation project

    This Archives in Brief provides an overview of the Parish Map Preservation Project.

  • LPI Fact Sheet Historical Parish Maps

    This fact sheet provides an explanation about historical parish maps and how to use them.

  • Sydney Metropolitan Detail Series

    The Sydney Metropolitan Detail Series (1880-99) is particularly useful for researching house histories. Make sure you look at the key maps first.

This list is also available on Trove.

Subdivision plans

Subdivision plans are a rich source of information for the house historian. Subdivision plans are held at a range of repositories including the State Library of NSW, the National Library of Australia, the City of Sydney Archives and Land and Property Information (LPI).

A selection of digitised Auction and Sale Lithographs 1865-1935 is available on the Historical Atlas of Sydney.

To find subdivision plans in the State Library of NSW catalogue, type the keywords 'subdivision plan' and the name of your suburb. Some of these catalogue records include a list of all the subdivision plans held for that area including their date and street boundaries. The library is embarking on a digitisation program for these plans.

Some subdivision maps and plans held at the National Library of Australia are also digitised. Search the catalogue using the keywords subdivision plan and the name of your suburb; narrow your search to maps.  

Parish maps

Historical land ownership was recorded on parish maps. These maps are essential records of early land ownership in NSW.  An explanation of parish maps and how to use them (PDF) is available from NSW Land and Property Information.  

NSW Land and Property Information is responsible for the legal registration of documents relating to ownership of land and property in NSW.

It is important to know the county and parish in which you live to use the land title records. Everyone in the City of Sydney local government area lives in the County of Cumberland.

The parishes within the County of Cumberland are:

  • Petersham
  • St Andrew
  • St Philip
  • St Lawrence
  • St James
  • Alexandria

The county and parish names and boundaries have not altered since they were established. Find out more about counties and parishes in State Records’ Archives in Brief 80 .

All the information needed to assist and explain NSW land titles and title searching is available on the LPI website including search guides.

Research tips

  • Maps cover different time periods and come in different formats so consider how you will organise the various map downloads, links, PDFs and printouts.
  • Putting your maps in date order enables you to see how your suburb and street evolved, but it is often easier to start in the recent past and work backwards.
  • Printed maps can appear online in more than one repository and they may have differences. For example they may have handwritten notes or updates added at dates subsequent to publication. The same map may also be in better condition in a different repository.
  • Maps can be complicated and may need special skills to 'read' them. Reading the support and help files on the various websites will enhance your ability to use these resources correctly.
Image: City of Sydney archives. ArchivePix SRC21485.

Last updated: Thursday, 12 May 2016