Inside the Tampa Bay History Center, in the back of the fourth-floor library, thousands of maps have been kept on lockdown until now.
“The earliest map in the collection is from 1493, and it actually just shows what was considered the known world prior to Christopher Columbus’ excursion across the Atlantic Ocean,” said Rodney Kite-Powell, with the Tampa Bay History Center.
Kite-Powell said many of these maps are too old, fragile, priceless and large for the public to handle, and there is only so much room to hang them on the wall.
“There are 6,000 maps in the collection and we only really display 30 to 40 at a time,” said Kite-Powell.
So, with the help of Hillsborough County, they are in the process of digitizing the maps over to their website.
“It’s really a fantastic process that allows us to share these maps not just in our community but around the world,” said Kite-Powell.
Kite-Powell said what you can learn from one glance at a map can be eye opening.
“So you can see a really early map of Miami before the railroad arrived and see how it was just a small little village,” said Kite-Powell.
He also said many of these artifacts are truly entertaining because of the art work.
“They will highlight different activities, what different cities are known for, what different parts of the state are known for through illustrations, so you see a lot of fishing, people on the beach,” said Kite-Powell.
The plan is to have all 6,000 maps on the website by the end of the year. However, some of the original pieces will also be on display during the History Center’s upcoming exhibit, Pensacola: Florida’s Second City.