Monday, April 7, 2008

Boston Harbor Hotel Map Collection

Maps are certainly a great way to learn more about geography, but they also provide a fascinating glimpse into the history and heritage of a city or a region. That is particularly the case with Boston, which has gone through so many changes to its landscape through landmaking, that you may not recognize how the city looked hundreds of years ago--as a narrow peninsula jutting out into Boston Harbor.

A great way to see the evolution of Boston is to check out the map collection that hangs on the walls of the Boston Harbor Hotel. The collection was assembled by Norman B. Leventhal, who developed the Rowes Wharf property and is an unabashed cartophile. (He also donated money and maps to start the Norman B. Leventhal Map Collection at the Boston Public Library.) The collection includes great maps of Boston, New England, and America dating back to the European discovery of the continent.

I went on Friday to a great talk at the Boston Harbor Hotel hosted by The Boston Harbor Association and featuring Alex Krieger, an urban design professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design who helped Leventhal assemble the collection. Mr. Krieger gave a fascinating talk about how the collection was assembled and gave some in-depth information on some of the collection's most interesting maps. Fun fact I hadn't known: Causeway Street got its name from the causeway that used to run along the north side of Mill Pond. (There's an outline of the old Mill Pond shoreline in one of the new parks on the Greenway.)

The Boston Harbor Hotel just received its fifth star to become one of 41 five-star properties in North America. The maps are located near the Rowes Wharf bar in the hotel and off the Harborwalk side of the hotel. Also check out The Boston Harbor Association for upcoming events. They do some great programs along the harbor's edge, and the best part is their programming is free.

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