J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Massachusetts Manuscript Maps

Back in January I bumped into the Massachusetts Historical Society’s “Massachusetts Maps” online exhibit. A lot of these images are manuscript maps—i.e., drawn by hand, not made for mass reproduction, and thus not to be seen anywhere else. Until now.

Among the choice selections:

The exhibit also offers a look at other locations in Massachusetts: And I’ve barely started to explore the graphic representation of the comprehensive Boston property survey of 1798.


G. Lovely said...

You say "“Frog Lane” is now Boylston Street, and divides the Common from the Public Garden." I believe it's Charles Street that separates the Common from the Garden, and it would be an extension of the way called 'Pleasant Street' on the right side of the map.

J. L. Bell said...

You’re right; Boylston Street (né Frog Lane) defines one southerly edge of the Common, but Charles Street is the border between the Common and Public Garden.

In the 1700 Charles Street would have been more or less at the water’s edge. The Public Garden and Back Bay sit on landfill areas.

Back in the 1770s, Pleasant Street was still being developed, and sparsely populated. It looks like waterfront property, but actually it ran alongside the mudflats and probably wasn‘t so pleasant.