Thursday, October 08, 2020

Vintage Maps of Boston


The Boston Public Library has released a new interactive map which allows you to view and explore vintage maps of Boston. Atlascope includes nearly 100 vintage maps of Boston, dating back to 1867.

The Boston Public Library collection of historical maps can help you explore how Boston has changed from the Civil War era right up until the modern day. The Atlascope interface includes options to compare any two vintage (or modern) maps side-by-side. You can also overlay one vintage map on top of another or view the two maps using a 'glass' lens view.


Fans of vintage Boston maps might also like the Birth of Boston website, which uses the Clough Land Parcel Map to explore the very earliest years of the modern city.

In September 1630 the English colonists in Trimountaine decided to rename their settlement 'Boston', after the English town in Lincolnshire. By 1648, eighteen years later, much of the Shawmut peninsula had been parceled out, claimed and settled by different colonial families. You can discover which families lived in Boston in 1648 using the Birth of Boston map created by Northeastern University.

The Birth of Boston is a collaborative project from Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Historical Society. The map uses the historical Clough Land Parcel Map to show Boston's early land parcels and who lived in them. Samuel Chester Clough was a nineteenth-century cartographer, who tried to map the early years of Boston using the data from The Book of Possessions, a nineteenth century catalog of Boston's historic registration records. The 1648 Clough Land Parcel Map plots the land lots of Boston in 1648 and describes who owned them.


If you are interested in exploring Boston's changing urban landscape even further then you should also check out Mapjunction. Bill Warner's impressive vintage map explorer allows you to compare old vintage maps of Boston side-by-side using an interactive mapping interface.

The vintage maps available on Mapjunction date back as early as the 18th Century. When you pan or move the map to a new location the available historical maps for the current map view are automatically loaded into the map layer menu (move the map to New York and you can explore vintage maps of New York instead). Simply select any two maps from the map layer menus to view them side-by-side.

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