An informative map of Boston and surroundings, produced for English readers anxious for information after news of the Boston Tea Party reached the mother country.
The main image is a chart of the Massachusetts coast from Scituate to Beverly, with particular detail for the soundings and many navigational hazards of Boston Harbor. Inset at upper right is a small-but-detailed plan of Boston, showing streets and street names, landmarks such as the Common (with Powder House and Liberty Tree), Long Wharf, and numerous fortifications. A numeric key delineates the town’s 12 wards, and an alphabetical key indicates 12 additional landmarks. Shown clearly is the major road axis of the city, now named Washington Street, running from the Meeting House (now the State House) to Boston Neck.
The then-geography of Boston is quite striking—at the time, the city was essentially an island linked to the mainland via a narrow causeway. More than any other major city in America, the shape of Boston has since been altered by its inhabitants. This small plan provides a sort of “baseline” from which to examine later images of the city, as it predates the extensive filling that created South Boston, Back Bay, and much of East Boston.
This print was published in London in 1774, to illustrate an account of New England in the London Magazine. At the time, the events leading up to the American Revolution were in full swing. The “Boston Tea Party” had just taken place, and Parliament was in the midst of passing a series of retaliatory measures, including among others an act shutting down the port of Boston until the ruined tea was paid for. The Magazine’s readers would likely have reviewed this map with considerable interest.
Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston, p. 49; Jolly, Maps of America, #251; Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, vol. VI, pg. 209.
Folds as issued and a few faint areas of discoloration, else excellent.