Boston: Maps, Atlases, and City (streets) Directories

This page has two sections: Historical: 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th Centuries Maps and Modern Maps: 20th Century to the Present. Use Guide Index above or scroll down.

Mapping Boston”

is an open source web mapping system that is an ongoing project of the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) in conjunction with the WorldMap team [Harvard University]. It is intended to help faculty and their students, policymakers and practitioners, and community members to explore the neighborhoods of Boston from their computer.”  The Map works with Overlays:  Place Location, Transportation, Health and Human Ecology, Society and Demographics, American Community Survey–US Census (2008-2010), Census 2010, Census 2000, American Community Survey (2005-2009), Historic Maps, Local Projects, Parcels, Political Boundaries and Areas, General.  Click on an Overlay for specific places and data.

 

bostonlev

View of Boston, July 4th, 1870
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
Boston Public Library

Boston & Beyond Exhibit, 2008. “Unlike conventional flat maps, bird’s eye views are a fascinating kind of specialty map that present an urban area as if it was being viewed from an elevation of 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The town “below” appears in a kind of imaginative snapshot at a moment in history, revealing the factories, homes, parks, cemeteries, churches, and even the details of vernacular architecture…The story of the exhibit, so vividly dramatized through these fascinating maps, is of the growing economic vitality and urbanization of Boston and the New England region during the last half of the 19th century, when industrialization and immigration were the primary engines of urban growth. These maps are also arresting works of popular art, all devised by the Boston craftsmen who were the leaders in the field.” Additional information on this image and a Map Viewer are here.

 

Historical: 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th Centuries

Atlases of the City of Boston, G.W. Bronley & Co., 1883 & 1902. “This collection contains the digitized plates of two atlases of Boston from actual surveys and official records made by the civil engineering firm G.W. Bromley & Co. for fire insurance purposes. The two atlases were published in 1883 and 1902 respectively. Neighborhoods surveyed include only Boston proper. The actual maps are 20 ½ inches by 30 inches. MIT will be digitizing a selection of Bromley atlases over the next few years. For large tiff versions of these maps (270+ megabytes) please contact the staff of Rotch Visual Collections at rvc-all@mit.edu. The atlases are located in the Limited Access collection in Rotch Library…”  To find neighborhood or other location, use the Subject Index.

The Boston Atlas

Boston Redevelopment Authority. Includes aerial photographs, historic comparison, land use, wards and precincts, city councilor districts, and zip codes. See below: Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Boston City (streets) Directories:

Online:

Print:

  • 1820, 1827, 1832, 1836, 1838-1839, 1841-1846 at The Howard Gotlileb Archival Research Center, Boston Universitiy Archives: Y collection F 73.2 D89.
  • City Directories from 1809 to the present are available at the Boston Public Library (Microtext Department, x2018; Research Library Stacks, x2244).See also, City Plans Index (1850-1895) “Sixty-nine volumes of hand drawn street plans for the City of Boston. These plans focus on the layout, widening, and extending of various streets in Boston neighborhoods. Blueprints are not included in this index.” (Special Collections , x4236)

 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Massachusetts: Boston

Black and white. Mugar Microforms HG9778. M37 S45.  (For additional years, see MIT Libraries: Maps: Urban Studies: Boston Sanborn Maps)

Reel 4

Boston, 1867, v.l: Downtown; 1885, v.1 Downtown – South End/Sections 1-25C; 1887, v.2 Back Bay – South End/Sections 29-59; 1888, v.3 Roxbury – Jamaica Plain – West Roxbury, parts of Brighton & Brookline/Sections 62-100; 1888, v.4 South Boston-Dorchester – Mattapan/Sections 106-141.

Reel 5

Boston, 1895, v.1 Downtown – Chinatown/Sections 1-58; 1897, v.2 Back Bay – South End – North Dorchester/Sections 1-83; 1897, v. 3 Roxbury – Mission Hill – Jamaica Plain (West Roxbury)/Sections 1-112; 1899, v.4 South Boston – North Dorchester/Sections 1-104; 1900, v.5 Charlestown – East Boston/Sections 1-111.

Harvard University Digital Resources

[City proper]. 1885 [Back Bay and South End]. 1887 Roxbury, West Roxbury, and parts of Brighton and Brookline. 1888 [South Boston and parts of Dorchester]. 1888 [East Boston and Charlestown]. 1888 [Cambridge and parts of Somerville]. 1888 Digitized from original books; in color. No restrictions on access copy.

Library of Congress, Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Volume I, 1867, 26 sheets.

ProQuest’s Digital Sanborn Maps

They are available at M.I.T. and the Somerville, Waltham, Watertown, and Woburn Public Libraries (not the Boston Public Library). There is no remote access; you must go to the library. The maps were digitized from the microform set and are in black and white.

Union List of Sanborn & Other Fire Insurance Maps: Boston

Listed by town or city. University of California, Berkeley.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library

Explore by Location to find Boston and Neighborhood maps.  Growth and development of Boston during the 19th century represented by 435 maps from 1800 to 1899.  Maps and charts of Colonial Boston.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library’s photostream, “Maps of Boston.”

363 maps of Boston and the Neighborhoods.  Current exhibition: “City of Neighborhoods,” March 22, 2014 – August 22, 2014, Central Library, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center.  “During the last decade, Boston as a whole has become younger, and more racially and ethnically diverse. However, the neighborhoods that make up Boston often tell their own unique stories of diversity and change…This exhibition compares the neighborhoods of today’s “new” Boston with those of 100 years ago. The 45 photos, objects, and maps, many of which are based on recent census data, show us where newer immigrant groups have settled and how the streets and features of a neighborhood reflect who lives and works there.”

Massachusetts Real Estate Atlas Digitization Project

Real estate maps from the 19th and early 20th century from the State Library. The website opens on maps of The Fenway. “The Library’s collection includes approximately 200 atlases, covering 6,500 maps in 12 counties and more than 80 municipalities throughout Massachusetts. The Library has digitized 167 of these volumes and has made them available in PDF form through its institutional repository, DSpace and with individual page images (jpgs) via its Flickr site. [see the] list of the statewide, county and municipal atlases available online…The State Library’s collection of Massachusetts real estate atlases is one of the most heavily-used resources in the Library. The volumes, most of which date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, document the development of neighborhoods over time… They provide information about property boundaries, plot sizes, ownership, building shapes, and materials. The atlases are used by genealogists, environmental consultants, architectural historians, and the general public researching the history of their home.”   Find more Boston and neighborhood maps on the Flickr site.

Historic Maps of Boston

Over 100 maps mainly from the  18th and 19th centuries. Library of Congress.

Historical Maps of Boston from the Perry-Castaneda Library (University of Texas, Austin) Map Collection:

History of Land Fill in Boston

1630-1890.

Boston Streets: Mapping Directory Data

Tufts University. Places, people, moments, cowpaths, atlases: 1874, 1898, 1928. Civil War through 20th century.

Mapping Boston

from the book of the same title (MugarGA430 .M36 1999), Future Boston.

Mapping Revolutionary Boston: Exploring an Eighteenth-Century City on the Eve of Rebellion

Bostonian  Society and Wellesley College.  Includes lesson plans.

Strauss’ atlas of Boston & vicinity, 1874-1875 : a topographical and business guide of the city containing 4 maps

 

US Geological Survey Historical and Topographic Maps of Boston

Ranging in date from 1892 to 2012.

US Geological Survey Topographic Map Explorer: Boston

 

Modern: 20th Century to the Present

Boston Redevelopment Authority, Research and Maps:
The Boston Atlas

Boston Redevelopment Authority. Includes aerial photographs, historic comparison, land use, wards and precincts, city councilor districts, and zip codes.

Boston Main Streets Districts

City of Boston home page. (See also News).

Boston maps

Boston Online. List of links to various maps.

Boston: Measuring Diversity in a Changing City (2000 and 2o10), pdf.

Includes fourteen maps showing race and ethnicity, income, age, language, education, region of birth, etc. based on Boston Census Tracts 2000 and 2010.

Boston Public Art Walk

Boston Art Commission. Map, key, and images.  Interactive map by neighborhood.

Boston Research Map.

Harvard University.  “Boston Research Map is an open source web mapping system that is an ongoing project of the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) in conjunction with the WorldMap [Harvard University] team. It is intended to help faculty and their students, policymakers and practitioners, and community members to explore the neighborhoods of Boston from their computer.”  The Map works with Overlays:  Place Location, Transportation, Health and Human Ecology, Society and Demographics, American Community Survey–US Census (2008-2010), Census 2010, Census 2000, American Community Survey (2005-2009), Historic Maps, Local Projects, Parcels, Political Boundaries and Areas, General.  Click on an Overlay for specific olaces and data.

Boston University Maps
Digital Atlas of Boston, Massachusetts and Vicinity: 1990

Compiled by Prof. William A. Bowen, a California State University geography professor, this site provides topical maps based on the 1990 U.S. Census.

Emerald Necklace Parks.

Map. Emerald Necklace Conservancy.

Freedom Trail Map

Freedom Trail Foundation.

Google Street View: Boston

Visualizing MBTA Data: An interactive exploration of Boston’s subway system

Data collected February 2014. This project was created by Michael Barry and Brian Card for a graduate course in Data Visualization at WPI taught by Matthew Ward.

Yahoo!’s Map of Boston

Excellent road maps of the Boston area.

U. S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder series

Census Tracts, Blocks, Streets, etc.

Ways to Look at Boston

Produced by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, this three volume print set contains “desktop maps of neighborhood planning districts, neighborhood statistical areas (NSas), wards and precincts, electoral precincts, zip code areas, census tracts with tables of population, income, and housing counts.” Mugar Library HT177.B6 W39 1995