Boston: Parks, Land, Harbor Use and Natural History

This guide highlights sources for Allison Blyler’s WR 150 classes on “Public Gardens and Urban Wilds: Boston’s Natural History.”  There are also sources for Andrea Volpe’s WR 150 classes on “Mapping Boston.” Remember to use Guide Index to find books, indexes to journal and newspaper articles, websites, and more!

book jacket: boston harbor islands

Mugar Library F73.63 .K34 2007

book jacket: Frederick Law Olmsted and Boston Park System

Mugar Library SB483.B73 Z34


For additional resources,  see

Green Design/Sustainability
Books on Boston: Guidebooks
Maps, Atlases and City (street) Directories
Books on Boston: Photographs

book jacket, Inventing the Charles Riverbook jacket, Paradise of All These Parts: a Natural History of Bostonbook jacket: Eden on the Charles

Boston Public Library online resources

Boston Landmarks Commission.  55 reports are available via the Internet Archive.

Boston Landmark Commission Study Reports are available on the City of Boston website.  They include “Homeowner Handbooks for neighborhoods listed in the National Register of Historic Places, brochures outlining the history of Boston’s neighborhoods, and Boston Landmarks Commission Study Reports, which are produced to assist the BLC in evaluating a property for potential designation as a Boston Landmark.”

Boston Public Library: Online Collections: Regional and Boston.  Historical Government Documents such as Boston Street Lists (1880-1976), Building Codes Relating to Boston (1873-2008), Tools for Statistical Research of the Census for Boston (1930-2000), Boston [personal and corporate] Tax Lists (1826-1865).

Boston Public Library on the Internet Archive.  Nearly 40,000 documents are available here.  Title and Author access as well as keyword in main search box.  Go directly to the Internet Archive for keyword, e.g., back bay boston,  and title searches.

Planning and Development of Copley Square.  Doreve Nicholaeff. Master of Architecture in Advanced Studies, M.I.T., 1979.

Boston Public Library catalog search: “Copley Square”

Boston and Beyond: Video

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center

Collection by Location (Boston plus individual entries, e.g., West End)

Boston Public Library non-online formats

  • Check catalog for materials available in print, microform, etc.

City of Boston online resources

Boston Preservation Allliance Newsletter

  • AllianceLetter : monthly newsletter of the Boston Preservation Alliance :
    Mugar Memorial Library  Stacks   NA108.B67 B667 V.7-21 1986-2000 (missing V.11#4 V.12#1,3)
  • M.I.T. Rotch Library provides a volume/issue index to the AllianceLetter by neighborhood.  Click the Boston Preservation AllianceLetter tab.
  • Boston Preservation Alliance Letter.  V.23(2)-v.28(2) 2007-2012 and 2012-2014  (For earlier years in print: Mugar Memorial Library  Stacks   NA108.B67 B667 V.7-21 1986-2000 (missing V.11#4 V.12#1,3)

See Newspapers below for historical and current accounts of projects and developments in Boston.



Selected list of titles in print and electronic format.

  • Bay Cities and Water Politics: The Battle for Resources in Boston and Oakland.  Sarah Elkind. University Press of Kansas. Mugar Library HD4464.B67E45 1998.
  • Book of Boston. Robert Shackleton. 1917. (IA)
  • Boston Firsts : 40 Feats of Innovation and Invention that Happened First in Boston and Helped Make America Great.  Lynda Morgenroth.  Boston: Beacon Press, 2006. Chapters: Recreation & Celebration, Nature & the Environment.
  • Boston : a topographical history. Walter Muir Whitehill. Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000. Mugar Library F73.3 .W57 2000.
  • “Boston: Parks and Parkways–a Green Ribbon” in ed. S.B Sutton, Civilizing American Cities: A Selection of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Writings on City Landscapes, 1971, pp. 221-262. Mugar Library HT 167 F71.
  • Boston Then and Now. Elizabeth McNulty. San Diego, Calif. : Thunder Bay Press, c1999. Mugar Reserve XF73.37 .M38 1999.
  • Boston then & now : 59 Boston sites photographed in the past and present. Peter Vanderwarker. New York : Dover Publications, c1982. Mugar F73.37 .V36 1982.
  • Boston’s “changeful times” : origins of preservation & planning in America. Michael Holleran.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, c1998.  Also available at Mugar Memorial Library Stacks (F73.37 .H5 1998 )
  • “Boston’s Emerald Necklace,” in Charles Waldheim, Landscape Urbanism Reader, 2006, p. 186-187. For additional references to Boston, type “Boston” in the search box.
  • Built Environment: A Guide to State Government Records of Massachusetts. [Boston, Mass.] : Massachusetts Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, [1993]. Mugar Library CD 3294 B85 1993.
  • Changing Face of Boston over 350 Years. Boston : Massachusetts Historical Society, 1980. Mugar Library F73.37 .M35 1980.
  • Cityscapes of Boston : an American city through time. Robert Campbell. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 1992. Mugar Ref. XNA735.B7 C36 1992.
  • East of Boston: notes from the Harbor Islands. Stephanie Schorow. Charleston: History Press, 2008. Mugar Library F73.63 .S36 2008.
  • Eden on the Charles: the making of Boston. Michael Rawson. Also in print: Mugar Library F73.44 R39 2010.
  • Frederick Law Olmsted and the Boston park system. Cynthia Zaitzevsky. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1982. Mugar Library SB483.B73 Z34.
  • Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston. Nancy Seasholes. MIT Press, 2003. Mugar Library F73.3 .S46 2003.
  • Garden Squares of Boston. Phebe S. Goodman. Hanover, NH: University of New England Press, 2003. Mugar Library SB466.U65 B6728 2003.
  • Greater Boston : adapting regional traditions to the present. Sam Bass Warner, Jr. Mugar Library F73.3 .W37 2001.
  • Guide to Public Art in Greater Boston: from Newburyport to Plymouth. Marty Carlock. Rev. ed. Boston: Harvard Common Press. Mugar Library N 884.5 B67 C37 1993.
  • Hub’s Metropolis: greater Boston’s Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth James C. O’Connell.  Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 2013.  In print:  Mugar Memorial Library Stacks   HC108.B65 O26 2013
  • “Indicators and standards at Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area” Chapter 12 in Parks and carrying capacity : commons without tragedy. Robert E. Manning. Washington, DC : Island Press, c2007. Science/Engineering Library SB486.P83 M36 2007. Online.
  • Insuring the City: The Prudential Center and the Postwar Urban Landscape.  Elihu Rubin. Mugar Library NA9053.O3R83 2012.
  • Invented cities : the creation of landscape in nineteenth-century New York and Boston. Mona Domosh. New Haven : Yale University Press, c1996. Mugar Library HT168.N5 D66 1996.
  • Inventing the Charles River. Karl Haglund. Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2003.Mugar Library F72.C46 H33 2003.
  • Large Boston Garden sketchbook. Maurice Brazil Prendergast. New York: G. Brazilier in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. In storage–see Circ ND 1839.P74 A4 1987.
  • “Locating Boston’s Place in Environmental History,” Andrew W. Kahrt, Journal of Planning History, 2012: 12(1) 78-85.  This article reviews five books in this list:  Bay Cities and Water Politics;  Eden on the Charles;  Remaking Boston Mastering Boston Harbor;  and Gaining Ground.  The article provides a capsule overview covering the 1700’s to the present.
  • Lost Boston. Jane Holtz Kay. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, c1980. Mugar NA735.B7 K39.
  • Mastering Boston Harbor: Courts, Dolphins, and Imperiled Waters. Charles Haar. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. Also in print: Law Annex KF228.Q56 H32 2005.
  • Olmsted Bibliography (1982). Franklin Park Coalition, Inc. IA Olmsted’s park system as vehicle in Boston : urban open space history, analysis & proposals, 1875-1975-? Cambridge, Mass. : Dept. of Landscape Architecture, Harvard University, [1973]. Stone Science Library SB483.B73 O5 1973.
  • Paradise of all these parts : a natural history of Boston. John Hanson Mitchell. Boston : Beacon Press, c2008. Also in print: Science/Eng QH105.M4 M58 2008.
  • Planning the city upon a hill : Boston since 1630. Lawrence W. Kennedy. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, c1992. Mugar HT168.B6 K46 1992.
  • Portrait of a port: Boston, 1852-1914. William Henry Bunting. Cambridge, Mass., Belknap Press, 1971. Mugar HE767.B7 B8.
  • Prendergast : the large Boston Public Garden sketchbook: [exhibition] Oklahoma Museum of Art, October 18 until November 22, 1981  Mugar Library ND1839.P74 A4 1981.
  • Province of reason. Sam Bass Warner, Jr. Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1984. Mugar Library F73.25 .W37 1984.
  • Remaking Boston : an environmental history of the city and its surroundings. Edited by Anthony N. Penna and Conrad Edick Wright. Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press, c2009. Science/Engineering Library GE 155.M4 R46 2009.
  • Streetcar suburbs: the process of growth in Boston, 1870-1900.  Sam Bass Warner. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962. Mugar Library HN80.B7 W3 1962.
  • To dwell is to garden : a history of Boston’s community gardens.  Sam Bass Warner, Jr. ; photographs by Hansi Durlach.   Boston : Northeastern University Press, c1987.  Mugar Library SB 457.3 .W37 1987.
  • A topographical and historical description of Boston. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff. 2d. & rev. ed. Mugar F73.3 .E71.  The 1871 edition available online via Internet Archive.
  • “Toward the Boston Public Library, 1881-1892,” in Guastavino Vaulting : The Art of Structural Tile. John Allen Ochsendorf.   New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010.
  • Vita Brevis : history, landscape, and art, 1998-2003. Jill Medvedow. Boston : Institute of Contemporary Art ; Gottingen : Steidl Publishers, 2004. Mugar Library N8845.B67 M43 2004.
  • Walking Tours of Boston’s Made Land. Nancy C. Seasholes. 2006. MIT Press. Mugar Reference XF73.18 .S43 2006.

Selected Recent Newspaper articles

Neyfakh, Leon. “Grown in Boston.” Boston Globe  Jan 19 2014. ProQuest. Web. 13 Feb. 2014 (no images). For images in articles, see Proquest Digital Microfilm, from 2008+ (3 month time lag) or ask for our paper copies in the Reserve Room.

“Abandoned projects of the Greenway, “, Boston Globe February 17, 2011. Casey Ross, Globe Staff, and “Re-imagining Boston’s Stalled Projects.” Jesse Nunes,  Boston Globe  September 20, 2009.

“A body of water so foul, : a century ago, a bold environmental idea was hatched right in the center of Boston [Emerald Necklace].”  Justin Martin, Boston Globe May 29, 2011.

“Boston’s water: public or private? In the 19th century, the city fought over who should own our infrastructure–and made a choice that spoke volumes,”  Carl Smith
Boston Globe May 5, 2013, K1, K4.

 “Defending Boston from the sea,” Drake Bennett. Boston Globe June 6, 2010, K1, K3

“Tracing the Changing Face of Kenmore Square: with the Hotel Commonwealth sale, a look at BU’s famous neighbor,” Patrick Kennedy. BU Today 1-24-2013.


Finding journal and newspaper articles

The databases below index many journals that publish articles on open space, urban planning, etc. Some of these journals are Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Urban History, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design, Landscape Journal, Progressive Architecture, Places, and Urban Land–all are available either online or in print. The databases make it easier to find articles on specific topics. Click the find at bu button to get to your article(s).

Note: 1984 to the present.

Note: 1929 – 1984.

Note: includes citations to many 19th-century articles. To get to them quickly, change “sort results” to “Publication date (oldest first).”

Boston Globe, 1997–.

Boston Globe, 1980-1996.

HarpWeek: online Harper’s Weekly, 1857-1912

Places Journal: Print Archive, 1983–.  Places “is an interdisciplinary journal of contemporary architecture, landscape and urbanism, with a particular focus on the public realm as both physical place and social ideal.”  Academic. Articles indexed in Avery Index.


Readers' guide full text mega

Readers' guide retrospective, 1890-1982 (H.W. Wilson)


Subject Heading

Boston (Mass.) — Buildings, structures, etc.



Ruth Thomas

Art Librarian

Mugar Memorial Library, Boston University