Boston 1872: Maps & Streets


 Boston 1872 Street Map by Docema
(Size: 2000 x 1876, 678KB)

Downtown Boston ca. 1872: This to-scale map shows building footprints in downtown Boston, color coded according to primary building material: red for brick, blue for granite, and brown for wood.

 Fire Hydrant Coverage Map by Docema
(Size: 1200 x 1126, 273KB)

Fire Hydrant Coverage of Downtown Boston ca. 1872: This map shows the density of fire hydrants (marked as red dots) in downtown Boston. The highlighted area was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1872. The lack of hydrants and water in this district was primary concern of Boston's Fire Chief well before the fire had occurred.

 Fire Contour Map by Docema
(Size: 996 x 701, 218KB)

Progression Map of the Fire of 1872: This contour map shows the movement of the fire that started on November 9, 1872 and lasted for nearly 24 hours. These reference points are based over 600 pages of sworn testimony of witnesses to the fire in the Report of the Commissioners

 1871 Fire Insurance Map
(Size: 1040 x 700, 301KB)

Boston Fire Insurance Map from 1871: This insurance map from 1871 shows the corner of Summer Street and Washington Street with building footprints drawn to exact scale. Fire insurance maps of this type recorded of the type of construction of each building, its size, roof type, as well as the type of business and materials occupying each building.

 Modern outline of Fire District
(Size: 974 x 800, 382KB)

Modern Boston with 1872 Fire Outline: This modern aerial view of Boston shows the area of the 1872 fire highlighted in red. Today this neighborhood in Boston is known as the Financial District and is considered the heart of downtown Boston as it was in 1872. The shape of the city blocks in this area have not changed much since 1872, but what certainly has changed is the size of the buildings.

 Harper's Digest Lightograph of the Great Fire
(Size: 1080 x 700, 405KB)

Lithograph View of Downtown Boston After the Great Fire of 1872: This lithograph was published nationally in Harper's Weekly shortly after the fire of 1872. In the foreground are steamboats hosing down the wharves that burned in Boston Harbor.  The empty lots of land to the right was Fort Hill, a neighborhood housing tenements on a hill that had been removed and leveled just before the fire. These empty lots fortunately formed a break line in the path of the fire and may have stopped the fire from spreading further across downtown Boston.

 1873 Plan to Expand Streets in Burnt District
1873 Plan for the Burnt District: This map produced by Boston city planners in 1873 proposes widening many of the streets in the burnt district before new buildings were constructed. The street changes are highlighted in red. The most dramatic changes included extending Franklin Street down to Pearl Street, extending Arch Street to Milk Street, and adding open space at the intersection of Milk Street and Congress Street, which today is known as Post Office Square. These changes were implemented and these streets pretty much bear the same footprints today.

 (Size: 1342 x 1800, 728KB)

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Copyright 2003, 2004 Docema. Photographs are property of their respective owners.