A monumental map of the greater Boston area, including coverage of much of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Plymouth Counties.
The map provides a complete street plan, with many streets named; the rail network is depicted; and hundreds of businesses, places of worship, schools and other landmarks are labeled. The natural topography is differentiated by hachuring for elevations, shading for hills, and a distinct symbol for wetlands. The map’s greatest contribution, however, lies in its identification of thousands of landowners and residents by name, particularly in less-densely populated suburban and rural areas. As such the map was for its time the best-available resource for understanding the region’s population density and demographics, and it was only superseded by the town and county atlases that began to proliferate in the 1870s.
The map was published with a variety of imprints in Boston and New York in 1866, 1867 and possibly later. All bear the imprint of publishers Baker & Tilden, but some omit the name of D.J. Lake and credit the map instead to “surveys under the direction of H.F. Walling, State Topographer.” Indeed I have little doubt that the project was overseen by Henry F. Walling, arguably the most accomplished and prolific American mapmaker of the mid-late 19th century. Between 1848 and 1888 he produced perhaps 150 large-scale, separately-issued maps of American towns and counties; several seminal state maps; numerous state and county atlases; and many maps for the U.S. Geological Survey. But arguably his greatest impact was as a serial innovator. He helped pioneer new models of partnership between commercial, local, state and Federal mapping enterprises; demonstrated that commercial mapmakers could produce high-quality, low-cost maps by drawing on the work of government scientific agencies; was a leading advocate of applying geodetic survey methods and tools to local and regional surveys; and catalyzed the first topographical (i.e., three dimensional) survey of an American state.
This map of the Greater Boston area was a logical outgrowth of Walling’s role as “State Topographer,” in which he had overseen the production in 1861 of a revised edition of Simeon Borden’s 1844 Topographical Map of the State of Massachusetts. Walling no doubt relied on the geodetic framework created for the state map, combined with a systematic street-by-street mapping of Boston and its surroundings, which of course had developed massively since Borden’s map was published 15 years earlier.
Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston, p. 161 (variant, with Baker & Tilden location given as New York rather than Boston, and the added imprints of engravers Worley and Bracher and printer F. Bourquin). For background on Walling see Buehler, “Henry F. Walling and the Mapping of New England’s Towns, 1849-1857” in The PORTOLAN, no. 71 (Spring 2008), p. 22-33.
About very good. Map somewhat toned (though this is exaggerated in the images), with minor splits to linen. Portfolio bumped and a bit frayed, ties largely perished.