Key Dates in Map History

1919 - Public Act 410 directs Highway Department to publish and sell a road map of the state.

1921 - Highway Department begins issuing a map showing road conditions that is revised every two weeks through November 15.

1922 - Highway map begins showing location of all state parks.

1923 - Highway map includes location of campsites and recreation spots. Ferry schedule included for first time.

1924 - Highway map begins showing detailed insets of major Michigan towns. Both peninsulas appear for the first time on a single sheet. Map is sold for 24 cents each.

1926 - Map includes mileage table for the first time showing distances between selected cities.

1927 - Map frequency changes from bimonthly to monthly and sells for 15 cents.

1928 - Road map is now distributed free of charge. Steamship routes shown for the first time.

1929 - Map frequency changes to thrice annually (May, July, September).

1931 - First map jointly published by the Highway Department and the Department of Conservation; first map in color; first two-sided map; first map with a cover; first map to show state and national forests, game refuges, fish hatcheries, airports and fire towers.

1934 - First map issued with an accordion or fan fold for compact storage. Rand McNally begins 28-year run as publisher of the state highway map.

1935 - Introduction of an alphabetical index to settlements along with a key to their location on the map and their respective populations. First map to include state police posts.

1936 - First winter edition of the map published...leading to spring, summer and winter issues.

1937 - First truckers map issued showing weight restrictions on roads and, later, bridge load limits and overhead clearances.

1939 - First map to show scheduled airline routes. Department begins placing state highway maps on display at roadside picnic sites.

1940 - Plans for building standard Highway Department picnic table printed on maps by popular demand.

1940 - First photograph appears on cover. All previous covers were artwork drawn by department staff.

1942 - U.S. Army asks Highway Department to discontinue issuing maps for security reasons.

1942 - Department issues special road map minus potentially sensitive information such as airports and new road construction in the vicinity of war plants.

1942 - Because gas rationing reduced travel and the war reduced road construction, no new maps were deemed necessary until war end.

1944 - June 1942 map reissued with a sticker bearing Highway Commissioner Ziegler's name covering that of his predecessor G. Donald Kennedy.

1945 - First postwar map published in limited edition. First map to use symbol showing divided highways. Frequency is reduced to semiannual (spring and fall).

1955 - Democrats propose turning publication of highway map over to the oil companies; Republicans oppose privatization.

1958 - To save money, Department begins publishing just one map per year. State copyrights its highway map for the first time and allows commercial reproduction if royalty fee is paid. Legislature passes Act 222 prohibiting the printing of a highway map in 1959.

1959 - Michigan becomes only state other than New York not to issue an official highway map.

1960 - Michigan resumes publishing annual highway map but with prohibition against including the name or picture of any public official.

1962 - Pictures used on front and back cover for the first time since 1935.

1964 - State symbols included for first time. Michigan Lithographing Company, of Grand Rapids, wins its first bid to publish the map, printing 22 of the next 24 issues.

1967 - Map covers honor 150th birthday of the University of Michigan and the 10th anniversary the Mackinac Bridge.

1969 - Grid lines added to map to aid in locating cities listed in the index.

1970 - Press run reaches 2,000,000 copies.

1971 - Indian reservations shown for the first time.

1974 - Name changes from Highway Map to Transportation Map.

1975 - Begins showing locations of hospitals providing 24-hour emergency service. First map to show Amtrak rail lines. Department publishes first mass transit map.

1976 - Frequency changes from annual to biennial to cut costs. Begins showing exit numbers along freeways.

1978 - Seaports shown for first time.

1980 - Press run reaches 3,000,000 copies.

1992 - Sites of underwater preserves shown for first time. Map begins showing the Great Lakes Circle Tour routes.

1997 - Heritage routes added.

1999 - Map features information, photos and locations of Michigan's 124 lighthouses, the most of any state.

2001 - "Great Lakes, Great Times" theme features great places to visit, things to do and people to see within Michigan. Map receives top honors in national public affairs skills competition.

2003 - New state wildflower, the dwarf lake iris, added to state symbols. National forest campgrounds shown for first time. Map now digitized.

2005 - Map features MDOT's centennial anniversary. The Greater Detroit map now stretches west to include the cities of Howell and Brighton. There are fewer city maps - just five - but an additional 14 city maps can be viewed online and downloaded for printing.

2007 - City maps are back - a total of 15. Family rest areas added and noted with a red triangle. The 50th anniversary of the Mackinac Bridge is the 2007 map's theme.

2008 - State highways and county roads now shown with signs that duplicate sign shapes on the road. New additions to map include: US-127 and M-10 exit numbers, and three National Scenic Byways. Some changes are the result of first-ever online questionnaire conducted in 2007.

2009 - Carpool lots shown for the first time with a green vehicle symbol. A new state Welcome Center is added in Detroit area. More city maps available online. The mastodon, Michigan's state fossil since 2002, added to state symbols. 

2010 - All-American Road designation added for M-1 (Woodward Avenue) from Detroit to Pontiac.

2011 - QR codes for scanning with smartphones added to the map.

2012 - State forest locations shown for the first time. Exit numbers for US-10, which runs from Ludington to Bay City, added to map.

2014 - Belle Isle on the Detroit River added as a state park.

2019 - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s photo is added to the official state map. The last time a governor’s image was shown was in 1990, which featured Gov. James Blanchard and his wife Janet.


Information compiled by LeRoy Barnett, retired reference archivist, Michigan Archives, and the MDOT Office of Communications.