2000 x 1876, 678KB)
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.
1200 x 1126, 273KB)
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.
996 x 701, 218KB)
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
1040 x 700, 301KB)
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.
974 x 800, 382KB)
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.
1080 x 700, 405KB)
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.
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)