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GIP

Topographic Mapping

By U.S. Geological Survey

Archived Publication—Most of the information contained in this publication is no longer current and is not expected to be updated.

Thumbnail of and link to booklet HTMLIntroduction

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) produced its first topographic map in 1879, the same year it was established. Today, more than 100 years and millions of map copies later, topographic mapping is still a central activity for the USGS. The topographic map remains an indispensable tool for government, science, industry, and leisure.

Much has changed since early topographers traveled the unsettled West and carefully plotted the first USGS maps by hand. Advances in survey techniques, instrumentation, and design and printing technologies, as well as the use of aerial photography and satellite data, have dramatically improved mapping coverage, accuracy, and efficiency. Yet cartography, the art and science of mapping, may never before have undergone change more profound than today.

First posted February 25, 2008

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.


Suggested citation:

U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Topographic mapping: U.S. Geological Survey Unnumbered Series, GIP, available only online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/topomapping/.


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