by Kevin Walsh

Not much is known now about Hagstrom Maps (by me at least) except that it was founded by Andrew Hagstrom in 1916. A Google search reveals today more listings for Hagstrom guitars than for Hagstrom maps. I wish the company would reveal more about its rich history. I interviewed for work there twice (1981, 1992) and was turned down twice. They would have been low-paying research jobs, but may have led someplace.

In 2010 I found this hand drawn map of northwest Brooklyn tacked onto a fence on Old Fulton Street. Until 1998, Hagstrom maps of the 5-boroughs still used the carefully rendered, hand-drawn templates from shortly after the company was founded in the 19-teens. After that, most of their maps, of the NYC area and surrounding regions in Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and southern NY State, were redrawn by a computer and while functional, aren’t nearly as esthetically pleasing.

Hagstrom also produced one of the finest Philadelphia maps ever made, but that was discontinued in the 1980s. In the 70s they also dabbled in computerized renderings of other towns from around the country such as Dallas and Atlanta, but they didn’t catch on and were discontinued. Of course, I have those in my collection.



DizzyD November 29, 2012 - 12:29 am

I have a spiral-bound Hagstrom map book from 1973 of the five boroughs. It was my Dad’s when he ran a messenger service, so it’s all marked up. It’s beautiful.

Tara Perry August 3, 2013 - 1:08 pm

I have a spiral-bound Hagstrom atlas of the 5 boroughs, maybe the same edition as yours? It uses the same template as the above map, same coloration, same blue type and yellow streets. It is missing the front cover and a few other pages, would really love some more info on it. Perhaps you could email me a picture of the front cover if you ever see this comment?
Thanks 🙂

Bill November 29, 2012 - 10:46 am

What I like about their updates, at least the pre-digital updates, is that they updated only the parts that fell under the title of the atlas. For example, if they came out with a new edition of the Bergen County Atlas, you would see that they had edited/updated in Cliffside Park but left the adjacent Hudson County streets, piers, etc. untouched. Thus, my late 1990s/early 2000s Hagstrom Bergen County Atlas allows me to see maps of large parts of North Bergen etc. that are quite old, say, ca. 1950. I especially like seeing all the piers named after the old shipping lines that ran pretty far north along the west bank of the Hudson. I’m sure you’ve noticed this inadvertent historical map preservation in other Hagstrom atlases.

Kevin Walsh November 29, 2012 - 4:36 pm

I liked that aspect

Frankie November 29, 2012 - 4:56 pm

Hagstrom was sold to Universal Maps a division of Kappa Publishing Group back in 2010, a victim of the electronic world. Maps and atlas are still available on their website:

Al_C November 29, 2012 - 10:47 pm

“were redrawn by a computer and while functional, aren’t nearly as esthetically pleasing.”

Interesting comment. As a computer geek (Brooklyn Tech class of ’70) it intrigues me how one could program a computer to have a sense of aesthetics.

It’s just not a silly idea. A friend of mine is beginning this PhD research on giving computers emotions. Strikes me that aesthetics are a subset of emotions as it has limited responses.

Tyler December 2, 2012 - 6:40 pm

They produced the most beautiful and practical subway maps ever produced.

JoAnn December 16, 2012 - 8:32 pm

I have a vintage Hagstrom’s New Map of The United States in colors. It says 60 cents and is in a type of folder it folds out of. It says published by Hagstrom company of New York. Any info on this one? thanks, JoAnn

Amy April 27, 2014 - 3:41 pm

Found hagstroms street and house no. Map of philadelphia. Cost 50 cents. Any info is appreciated


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