To learn how this map can be used in the classroom click here
This view of Victorian Boston portrays a prosperous city during its Independence Day celebration. The artist created this view, which he dated July 4, 1870, looking at the city from the west. Just right of center in the foreground is the Boston Common where a military re-enactment is taking place. Boston Harbor and Bay occupy the upper half of the composition, but clearly visible are Forts Winthrop and Independence on Governor and Castle Islands, with cannons firing and American flags flying proudly over the forts.
The artist shows a city undergoing rapid change. Industries are beginning to crowd portions of the waterfront. The harbor is full of the clipper ships that brought fame to Boston in the 1850s. However, the steamship, only two of which are visible, subsequently decimated New Englands shipbuilding industry, which was centered on wooden ships. The shipping trade that fueled Bostons prosperity for two centuries was also declining due to the arrival of the railroads in the 1830s.
On the left and right sides of the drawing, rail lines terminate at North End and Back Bay stations. By placing these railroad facilities in the foreground, the artist suggests that this city was now firmly in the grasp of a new mode of transportation.