SMITH, George G. (1795-1878)
Plan of Boston comprising a part of Charlestown and Cambridge
Boston: "George G. Smith ... Also by Ide and Dutton" 1855. Engraved folding pocket map, period hand-colouring in outline. Inset maps of South Boston and East Boston. Street index along the left margin. Folds into publisher's blindstamped cloth covers, title stamped in gilt on the upper cover, Ide & Dutton advertisement on the front pastedown. Sheet size: 26 1/2 x 22 inches.
A noted mid-19th century map of Boston: among the earliest to show the proposed filling of Back Bay.
This decorative map of Boston shows the city divided into wards and fire districts, with the city's streets and wharves named. The map further identifies many of the public buildings, schools and churches located in the city.
The most notable feature on this map, however, is its depiction of the proposed filling of Back Bay. "The tide mills had not been successful and, cut off by the Mill Dam and with the flow of water further impeded by the railroad embankments, the Back Bay, into which all the sewers from surrounding areas drained, had become a stinking cesspool. By the early 1850s it was determined that the only solution was to fill the bay, and in 1854 the state and the Boston Water Power Company, the two major owners of the Back Bay flats, made an agreement for filling them. This agreement included the street grid plan shown on the 1855 map. This street grid had been laid out without regard for the railroad tracks, and eventually only the streets east of Dartmouth, which is just west of the point where the tracks crossed, were constructed..." (Mapping Boston, plate 39, page 205). The filling of Back Bay would begin in 1857 and take nearly twenty-five years to complete.
This copy an unusual variant, with a large reservoir appearing just below the Mill Dam, with the explanation "Plan of improvement proposed by Hon. David Sears." This reservoir was removed in subsequent issues of the map, suggesting this to be an early state.
Mapping of Boston , p. 205.