Using City Directories For Research

City directories are often the only cost-effective way to identify past occupants of buildings – including occupants that may have created environmental issues. This research can also help historians and other researchers understand how the mix of commercial and residential properties has changed in cities and neighborhoods. HIG has a huge in-house collection of scanned city directories, crisscross directories, digital phone books and other similar publications to supplement your research.

What you can expect:

  • Experienced researchers that track down addresses and street names that have changed over time.
  • Data for a specific property and surrounding properties or an entire neighborhood.
  • Data provided in approximate five year intervals.
  • City Directory Pages (PDF) and abstracts (PDF or spreadsheet) that can be easily inserted into your report or uploaded to report writing platforms.
  • Ability to upgrade to customized abstracts that include all tenant listings in large multi-tenant buildings.

To deliver high quality city directory research, we pay attention to the way that street names and addresses have changed over time. If you’re not looking for former street names and addresses, it can be easy to miss a building or business that may have been on your site years ago. For example, when conducting environmental risk reviews prior to a property purchase, not identifying past property occupants like a dry cleaner or filling station can leave you open to unnecessary risk. We look for these changes so we can give you the most accurate information.

City Directory Pages are:

  • Digital copies of original city directory pages.
  • Your target property area is highlighted on the page to save you time locating the listings.
  • HIG’s city directory collection contains directories from several publishers and our licensing agreements allow you to include these pages in your reports.

City Directory Abstracts are:

  • Data collected from city directories and similar publications; provided when City Directory Pages are not available for reproduction.
  • You can search for key words, phrases or names such as “gas” or “dry cleaner.”
  • In urban areas, the City Directory Abstract includes the target property address and all addresses along the same street within approximately one block in both directions from the target property.
  • In rural areas, the City Directory Abstract includes the target property address and up to six listings (addresses and/or cross streets) along the same street; three listings in each direction.

If you have any questions about HIG’s City Directory Research, please call us at 952-253-2004.