Data Release

Historical Shorelines for Fire Island and Great South Bay, New York (1834 to 1875): Georeferenced Topographic Sheets and Vector Digital Data

By Joseph F. Terrano,1 Kathryn E.L. Smith,2 Kirsten J. Bendick,1 and Joseph M. Vargas1

1Cherokee Nation Technologies contracted to the U.S. Geological Survey
2U.S. Geological Survey


Topographic sheets (t-sheets) produced by the National Ocean Service (NOS) during the 1800s provide the position of past shorelines. The shoreline data can be vectorized into a geographic information system (GIS) and compared to modern shoreline data to calculate estimates of long-term shoreline rates of change. Many t-sheets were scanned and digitized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and are available on the NOAA Shoreline web site ( However, some t-sheets were not scanned by NOAA and are only available via the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The data included within this data release were previously unavailable or not published in digital format. These data were produced to provide a more comprehensive record of shoreline positions for Fire Island and Great South Bay, New York, to aid geologic and coastal hazard studies.

This data release includes previously unavailable georeferenced t-sheets and digital vector shorelines for the Fire Island and Great South Bay, New York, coastline from 1834, 1838, and 1874/1875. The original t-sheets were scanned by the NARA-authorized vendor and sent to the Unites States Geological Survey St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (USGS SPCMSC) as non-georeferenced digital raster files. Upon arrival at the SPCMSC, USGS staff performed the following procedures: rasters were georeferenced, projected to a modern datum, and shorelines were digitized to create a vector polyline depicting the historical shoreline position. The t-sheets included in this data release are: 1) T-479a, T-479b, T-1 (Parts 2 and 3) (1834); 2) T-58 (Parts 1 and 2) (1838); 3) T-1374a, T-1374b, T-1375a, T-1375b (1874); and 4) T-1402 (1875). All shorelines, including the ocean-facing barrier island shoreline, back-barrier island shoreline, mainland and islands were digitized. Please read the full metadata for details on data collection, dataset variables, and data quality.


File Name and Description Metadata (XML format) Metadata (text format) Download File
Polyline shapefiles of digitized vector shorelines (.shp)
Fire_Island_shoreline_metadata.xml Fire_Island_shoreline_metadata.txt
(405 KB)
Georeferenced t-sheet rasters (.tif)
Fire_Island_t-sheet_metadata.xml Fire_Island_t-sheet_metadata.txt
(487.3 MB)

Satellite map of the study area with an inset location map, labels, and Explanation
Figure 1. Map of the Fire Island and Great South Bay, New York, study area.

Suggested Citation

Terrano, J.F., Smith, K.E.L., Bendik, K.J., and Vargas, J.M., 2020, Historical shorelines for Fire Island and Great South Bay, New York (1834 to 1875): Georeferenced topographic sheets and vector digital data: U.S. Geological Survey data release,