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Early town maps were bird's-eye views, showing buildings in elevation, with varying degrees of accuracy.They were not surveyed to modern standards and should not be taken as perfect scale drawings.All can be viewed online at the link above, courtesy of the Department of Geography, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.A new survey was a major event throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.It was far more common for maps to be reprinted or copied (sometimes inaccurately) time after time, becoming increasingly out of date.For instance Braun and Hogenberg's views of Dublin, Lancaster and Shrewsbury were derived from John Speed's (1612), which has bird's-eye views of major towns inset in the corners of his county maps of England and Wales, his single sheet for Scotland and maps for each of the Irish provinces.In the 18th century more accurate surveys began to appear in the flat ground plan we know today as maps.Still they tended to show some significant buildings in elevation, like the ward plans of London in Strype's 1720 edition of Stow's .
So few survive that one might imagine that the Romans, for example, did not know what a map was.
This type of map was produced more widely in the age of printing.
John Ogilby's road maps of England and Wales in (1675)are the best-known.
Old Maps Online is a search engine for historical maps with a map interface.
It indexes a huge number maps made available online by archives and libraries, including major online map sources mentioned below.