Sign In

Forgot Password Create Account
Stock# 36980mbja

The largest and most visually striking 19th-century map of Boston, published by McIntyre, lithography by Friend & Aub; printed by Wagner and McGuigan.

This astonishing map depicts not only Boston but much of Cambridge, East Cambridge, Somerville, Charlestown, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester and Roxbury. By the 1870s all but the first three would be annexed by the city.

McIntyre portrays this intensely developed urban area in immense detail. Not only does the map depict Boston's topographical features, street plan, rail lines and wharves, but the very large scale made it possible to accommodate the footprints of individual buildings and blocks (with different shading employed to indicate construction material), as well as in many cases the names of the owners or businesses occupying them. To get a sense of the detail, one need only examine the depiction of Boston Common and the Public Garden, where one can make out the network of walking paths and individual plantings (each with its own shadow!) The whole is enhanced by no fewer than 55 pictorial vignettes of government buildings, places of worship, factories, cultural venues and monuments.

As can be seen on the map, in the early 1850s Boston was at an intermediate stage of its topographic development. The shoreline of the Shawmut Peninsula had been extended in all directions, South Bay was in the process of being filled in, Boston Neck had been widened to accommodate several avenues of residential development, and the Back Bay had been occluded by rail lines and the Mill Dam complex but not yet filled. In all, this is an amazingly informative and appealing plan of one of America's leading cities in the mid-19th century.

A great year for Boston maps

For some reason no fewer than three other monumental maps of the Boston area appeared in 1852. One is a map of the greater Boston area privately published by J.C. Sidney, and another is a reconstruction of the original Boston shoreline by City Engineer E.S. Chesbrough. The third, Slatter and Callan's Map of the City of Boston, is on a larger scale than the McIntyre map (300 feet to the inch) but focuses only on the Shawmut Peninsula.

Nancy Seasholes has pointed out that the McIntyre and Slatter and Callan maps "have differences in notation and some outright discrepancies." For example, where McIntyre indicates Martin's Wharf along the old South Cove, Slatter and Callan show "Loring late Martin's" Wharf. To take another example, Seasholes points out that the huge Boston Wharf Company wharf in south Boston is shown in an essentially complete state by Slatter and Callan, whereas McIntyre depicts it as a work in progress. These two examples alone suggest strongly that McIntyre's surveys were conducted a few years prior to those of Slatter and Callan, and that for some reason publication was delayed until 1852.

Henry McIntyre

McIntyre also produced in 1852, a version of this map with the same title and on the same scale, but with smaller dimensions of ca. 50 x 56 inches and featuring "only" 14 vignettes. In 1850-52 he also made maps of Danvers, Lynn, Marblehead, Salem and possibly Newburyport, as well as one of Norwich, CT. These maps are all rare on the market... this writer knows of a total of perhaps a dozen offered in the past 25 years, several by this firm. This Boston map seems to have been offered twice, most recently in the mid-1990s.

Beyond this listing of his cartographic output, this writer has been unable to locate any other information of Henry McIntyre. For example, his name (and maps) seem to go entirely unmentioned in contemporary newspapers, where one would expect to find subscription notices, advertisements and/or reviews of his work.


Condition Description
6-sheets, joined and laid on linen. Minor cracks and water stains at top and a bit of fraying at edges with some loss of selvage, but in all an extraordinarily fresh example in original unconserved condition.
Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston, p. 136 (Boston Engineering Dept., Boston Public Library, Boston Athenaeum, Harvard, and four other locations); Krieger and Cobb, Mapping Boston, p. 230 (ill.); OCLC #31949766 (Boston Athenaeum, Brown University, and Harvard only). Not in Phillips or Rumsey. A very high resolution image of this map may be viewed at