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the Map


Inquiry Question

Historical Context




Table of

Locating the Site

Boston, 1775.[Map 1] with link to larger version of map.
(National Park Service)

Boston today.[Map 2] with link to larger version of map.
(National Park Service)

Few cities have undergone such drastic changes in geography as Boston. Starting as early as 1742, the city began to fill in the shallows near the shore and build such structures as Faneuil Hall, the first open air market place and town meeting hall in Boston. By the 1820s and into the 1830s, hilltops were being scraped and used as landfill. By 1860, the Back Bay, which had been an environmental concern for decades due to sewage dumping, had been filled in.

The annexations by Boston of several neighboring communities including Roxbury (by 1867) and Dorchester (by 1869) allowed Boston to expand in terms of both population and geographic size. Following these annexations, Boston could, for the first time, acquire larger tracts of land for development of major parks.

Questions for Maps 1 and 2

1. Based on Map 1, what geographical features of Boston limited its ability to expand?

2. Locate the following features on Map 1: the Boston Common, the Charles River, the Back Bay (the water at the back edge of the Boston Common), and the communities of Roxbury and Dorchester. What changes in land mass have occurred between 1775 and the present? How did these changes occur?

3. How might Boston's history have been different if the Back Bay and other areas had not been filled?

4. How did adding large communities, such as Roxbury and Dorchester, affect Boston's ability to accommodate parks?

* The maps on this screen have a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 1 and Map 2, but be aware that each file may take as much as two minutes to load with a 28.8K modem.



Comments or Questions

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