Mapping Boston

Mapping Boston

Edited by Alex Krieger and David Cobb

With Amy Turner

Foreword by Norman B. Leventhal

An informative—and beautiful—exploration of the life and history of a city through its maps.





An informative—and beautiful—exploration of the life and history of a city through its maps.

To the attentive user even the simplest map can reveal not only where things are but how people perceive and imagine the spaces they occupy. Mapping Boston is an exemplar of such creative attentiveness—bringing the history of one of America's oldest and most beautiful cities alive through the maps that have depicted it over the centuries.The book includes both historical maps of the city and maps showing the gradual emergence of the New England region from the imaginations of explorers to a form that we would recognize today. Each map is accompanied by a full description and by a short essay offering an insight into its context. The topics of these essays by Anne Mackin include people both familiar and unknown, landmarks, and events that were significant in shaping the landscape or life of the city. A highlight of the book is a series of new maps detailing Boston's growth.

The book also contains seven essays that explore the intertwining of maps and history. Urban historian Sam Bass Warner, Jr., starts with a capsule history of Boston. Barbara McCorkle, David Bosse, and David Cobb discuss the making and trading of maps from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Historian Nancy S. Seasholes reviews the city's remarkable topographic history as reflected in maps, and planner Alex Krieger explores the relation between maps and the physical reality of the city as experienced by residents and visitors. In an epilogue, novelist James Carroll ponders the place of Boston in contemporary culture and the interior maps we carry of a city.


$44.95 T ISBN: 9780262112444 292 pp. | 12 in x 11.5 in


$29.95 T ISBN: 9780262611732 292 pp. | 12 in x 11.5 in


Alex Krieger

Alex Krieger is Chairman of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a principal of Chan Krieger & Associates.

David Cobb

David Cobb is Head of the Harvard Map Collection at the Harvard College Library.


Amy Turner and Norman B. Leventhal.


  • Maps have long been effective for showing how cities develop. Here, historical maps are joined by paintings, prints, photographs, and expert essays to trace the changing face of Boston in its New Englad setting. Every major city needs a book like this to document its geographic memory.

    David Woodward

    University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • If a picture tells a thousand words, the Mapping Boston speaks volumes about the history and development of our city. Norman Leventhal's collection of maps and the accompanying stories will be treasured by generations to come.

    Thomas M. Menino

    Mayor of Boston

  • Who would have guess that a map book could be fun? Even exciting? Mapping Boston is both. What a creative way to tell the history of a great city. Full of wonderful old drawings and photographs and of course maps, the book tells the story of Bean Town from the Puritans to the high techies of today. One flip through and you are compelled to start at the beginning and go slowly, as if strolling along the cobblestones streets. Anyone who loves Boston, history, architecture, city design, travel, or a good story will be as captivated as I was with Mapping Boston.

    Lesley Stahl

  • What a marvelous and immensely welcome book! The collection of maps is surpassing, and to have them so beautifully published in combination with such superb essays is cause for celebration for everyone who loves Boston and loves history. Mapping Boston is a perfect treasure.

    David McCullough


  • Second Prize, 2000, American Association of Museums (AAM) publication competition.