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About the G. M. Hopkins & Co. Maps

History and Background of the Maps

Maps produced by the G.M. Hopkins Company have made a lasting impression on the boundaries of many American cities.  Between 1870 and 1940, the company produced over 175 atlases and real estate plat maps that primarily covered the Eastern sea board, including cities, counties, and townships in 18 different states and the District of Columbia.  In the early years, the company produced county atlases, but gradually focused on city plans and atlases.  They were among the first publishers to create a cadastral atlas, a cross between a fire insurance plat and a county atlas prevalent in the 1860s-1870s.  These real estate or land ownership maps (also known as plat maps) not only depict property owners, but show lot and block numbers, dimensions, street widths, and other buildings and landmarks, including churches, cemeteries, mills, schools, roads, railroads, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.

Originally named the G.M. Hopkins and Company, the map-making business was jointly founded in 1865 in Philadelphia, Pa., by the Hopkins brothers, G.M. and Henry.  The true identity of G.M. Hopkins remains somewhat of a mystery even today.  “G.M.” either stands for Griffith Morgan or George Morgan.  There are three different possibilities for the confusion over his identity.  “Either the compilers of the earlier [city] directories were negligent; G.M. Hopkins changed his first name; or there were two G.M. Hopkins (father and son) working for the same firm” (Moak, Jefferson M. Philadelphia Mapmakers. Philadelphia: Shackamaxon Society, 1976, p. 258).

Credited with creating two maps between the years 1860 and 1861, Henry supervised much of the surveying field work for the company and served as chief assistant of the firm.  When G.M. retired in 1900 (he died a year later), Henry took control of the business and changed the name in 1902 to the G.M. Hopkins Company.  Retiring in 1907, he passed the company out of family hands to George B.C. Thomas, who had started working at the company around 1896 as an engraver. Thomas moved the company to the Insurance Exchange Building (Room 501) at 136-138 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia in 1914.  Henry Hopkins died in 1921.

The company's fortunes declined during the Depression, and it was purchased by the Franklin Survey Company of Philadelphia in 1943.  Established in 1928, Franklin Survey Company “cashed in on the well-known brand and continued publishing atlases for those areas accustomed to the Hopkins name” (Moak, Jefferson M. “The All-American Mapmaker.” Mapline, No. 10, June 1978). Renamed Franklin Maps in 1986, the company is still in business today and is located in the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa.  It is owned by Andrew H. Amsterdam whose father started the Franklin Survey Company.

According to our research, the G.M. Hopkins Company published 47 plat map volumes and atlases of Pittsburgh between 1872 and 1940.

Selection Criteria

The first 26 volumes of map plates that "Historic Pittsburgh" selected were scanned by a vendor and mounted online by the Digital Research Library between 2000 and 2004. The original selection objective for the Historic Pittsburgh collection was to cover as many decades and as much geographic area as possible given our resources at the time. We selected maps that represented an effort to reflect the changing urban landscape of the greater Pittsburgh area from the early 1870s to the late 1930s. Beyond this consideration, priority was given to damaged or deteriorating atlases or plat books that could benefit most from preservation treatment.

In 2008 Historic Pittsburgh decided to digitize the remaining 21 volumes due to continued interest and use of the online maps in order to complete the entire set of Hopkins maps.  So, in 2009, Historic Pittsburgh commenced scanning the remaining volumes which are now all presently available on the Historic Pittsburgh website to see the "Real estate plat-book of the southern vicinity of Pittsburgh, Penna. : from official records, private plans and actual surveys. [1896]."

Publication Dates and Revision Dates

Hopkins Real Estate Atlases that were maintained by city departments and bureaus were often systematically updated to reflect extensive housing development, annexation, and street changes within Pittsburgh and the vicinity. Revisions and additions were often ordered from the G.M. Hopkins Company and pasted onto the original map plates. Newly annexed areas were also noted and stamped by hand in some of the original volumes.

Hopkins Real Estate Atlases have actively been used through the decades, and in many cases, it is rare to find some of these volumes in their original form. The Digital Research Library originally acquired some of these revised volumes for inclusion in the Historic Pittsburgh Maps Collection. When researching family history or history of a house, the researcher should pay special attention to revision dates. We cannot guarantee that the property owners, street names, or city limits presented on some of the online maps were part of the originally published volumes. We have made every effort to note revision dates on the index pages of any volume that has been altered since its publication.

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Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sheraden, 3102 Sherwood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15204        412-331-0600