Inventing the Charles River

(The MIT Press)

510i1zZ8RzL._SY440_BO1,204,203,200_ Author Karl Haglund
Isbn 9780262083072
File size 90.4MB
Year 2002
Pages 512
Language English
File format PDF
Category Architecture

Book Description:

to those researching Massachusetts-Bay Colony, and its legal history, as means to visualize and make concrete the extensive changes to what was originally a three-hilled (thus the name "Trimount," ultimately spelled "Tremont" Street) peninsula bare of construction.

*"Mapping Boston" (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999), Edited by Alex Krieger and David Cobb with Amy Turner, is a fascinating compilation of maps from 1703 and thereafter, showing the changes to the shape and size of Boston proper (the "island" part of the peninsula) resulting from extensive landfills. As example, the Gold-domed Massachusetts statehouse (it is the second) was built on one of the three hills, after the top was leveled and the dirt used to fill a small cove.

Hancock's descendants spent decades in court litigating their claim that they owned the top of that hill. And during that long litigation, they would come out at night with a wheelbarrow, fill it with dirt from the hill, and haul it away. It is a mystery what they did with it, but I suspect they rebuilt the hill elsewhere, perhaps in their cellar. Hancock's house had been on that hill, near where the statehouse's west wing is built. The house was seized for non-payment of taxes.

[See "Boston: A Topographical History" (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Second edition, enlarged, paperback, 1968), Walter Muir Whitehill, for the Hancock and other such histories, including the story of why one of the very early mapmakers discreetly named one of the three hills "Horedam".]

"Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston" (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003), Nancy Seasholes, goes into extensive detail, with extensive illustration, about the landfillings that made Boston proper larger (it is still tiny). One of the reasons for doing so, and this related to the damming of the Charles River at its mouth, was that "dumpings" of raw sewage above ground made areas of the city a reeking cesspool and health hazard.

This also entailed an astonishing amount of litigation over ownership and control of lands.

Other reviews are also correct, as there are multiple perspectives from which to view these exquisite and beautiful volumes.



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