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Boston 1872 Gallery: Maps



Docema has collected several historic maps of 19th century Boston as well as created new maps reflecting our research into Boston's Great Fire of 1872.

An 1867 fire insurance map for the Summer Street area of downtown Boston. The color of each building represents the primary building material: red for brick, blue for granite or stone, and yellow for wood.
An 1871 fire insurance map for the Summer Street area of downtown Boston. The map is drawn to scale and notes the address, height, and primary materials of each building.

This 1873 map highlights the proposed changes for several downtown streets in the Burnt District after the Great Fire of 1872. In the wake of the fire city planners saw an opportunity to widen several of Boston's downtown streets before the commercial district was rebuilt. After much debate and compromise with land owners these changes were implemented and became the layout of downtown Boston as it is today.
This map from the archives of the Boston Fire Department highlights all large fires in the metropolitan Boston area from 1652 to 1910. (Note: Full-size view is a large file)

Docema produced this map of downtown Boston ca. 1872 based on a composite of many insurance maps of the time. This scale map details each building footprint and the color of each building is according to building material: red for brick, blue for granite, and tan for wood.
A modern satellite view of downtown Boston. The area destroyed during the Great Fire of 1872 is highlighted in red.
Docema produced this map showing the denisty of fire hydrants in downtown Boston ca. 1872 and also highlights the area of the Great Fire of 1872. As noted in the commissioner's report the area where the fire raged out of control had far fewer fire hydrants than needed. Boston had neglected to install more hydrants in this area while it had rapidly changed from a low-density residential district into a sprawling commerical during the 1860's.
Docema produced this map based on the testimony of hundreds of witnesses to the fire in the commissioners report. The contour outlines show how the Great Fire of 1872 spread over time from where it began on Summer Street until it was finally stopped 16 hours later. Over 770 buildings were destroyed by the fire.
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