The Converse EDC has recently obtained large scale copies of Sanborn Maps from Indiana University Library and had them converted into digital format as a visual and primary source to study the past history of Converse.
Over a 100 years ago the Sanborn Company, based in New York, sent mapping teams out across the United States to map every commercial building and many residential homes in communities across America. Their critical work became the basis for helping to standardize insurance rates and risk factors for competing insurance companies. These "googlers" of the past provide exceptional detail as to how these buildings were built and the materials used, where they were located, and how they were heated, along with a number of community landmarks. The Sanborn Maps for Converse (1898-1909-1920) came at a critical time. Converse was experiencing an unprecedented boom brought on by the discovery of natural gas prior to 1898. By 1909, the Boom had become a bust, and by 1920; the Sanborn Map shows that Converse is transitioning once again from livery stables to automobile garages along with buildings that have become vacant.
Steve Reiff, EDC president, related that, "Sanborn Maps serve as a reliable way to study the past and note the constant change that communities go through. The gas boom produced a growing population of over 4,000, depending on where the boundary lines are drawn. The bust shrank the population to a stable number of around 1,100 that has remained for decades. Converse is resilient with a history of bouncing back and reinventing itself, not accepting the effects of a "bust" that it has gone through."
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