Charming guide map of Boston

L[ouis] Prang & Co. [after] James Slade, City Engineer , MAP OF BOSTON 1862. Photographically reduced from the Plans of James Slade, City Engineer. With all the latest improvements. A COMPLETE GUIDE TO STRANGERS. Boston, 1862.
Two-stone lithograph featuring a central map (8 ¾"h x 12"w) surrounded by a broad decorative border. Overall image size 14 ¼"h x 17 ½"w plus margins. Map removed from printed card-stock folder, but folder present.

A very attractive and scarce guide map, printed by one of Boston’s great chromolithographers.

The map is based on James Slade’s recently-completed official map of Boston, which depicts Boston during one of its most aggressive and successful periods of expansion. Most dramatically, it shows the vast area of Back Bay created by fill in recent years, organized around the elegant, tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue and other grand thoroughfares emanating from the new Public Garden. Distances from downtown are indicated by concentric circles at ¼-mile intervals; a legend at lower right lists hotels, rail depots, markets and public buildings; and symbols indicate churches, schools, and rail lines.

The wide decorative border printed in black and red adds both documentary value and great visual appeal. It consists of 28 circular medallions advertising a huge range of businesses, including among others a printer and an engraver; dealers in books, “fancy goods,” gas fixtures, paints, whiskey, wine and woolens; and the New England Life Insurance Company. Predictably, most are located in or near the central business district around Washington Street, a short walk from Prang’s own offices at 34 Merchants Row.

Prang also issued in 1862 and again in 1865 a version of the map sans border, copies of which are found in Dudley’s Boston Business Directory and likely elsewhere. An example of the 1865 edition may be viewed here.

Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston A Supplementary List (1904), p. 62 (listing a single example held in the collection of George Lamb). Proceedings of the Bostonian Society at the Annual Meeting, January 13, 1885, p. 77. OCLC lists 9 institutional holdings, including Boston Athenaeum, Harvard and the Massachusetts Historical Society, and another is held by the Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. Not in Krieger and Cobb, Mapping Boston; or Phillips, Maps of America.


Very minor staining at right. Flattened and lined on verso.