Publication: Boston and Beyond (exhibit)

February 2008
ISBN 0-89073-132-2
168 pp., 132 color illus. $35.00

Boston and Beyond: A Bird's Eye View of New England. An exhibit from the collections of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, January 2008-June 2008.

By: Ronald E. Grim, Roni Pick, and Eileen Warburton.

Boston and Beyond, the third gallery exhibit of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, marks the public debut of one of the world's pre-eminent collections of urban bird's eye views and celebrates its preservation through a Save America's Treasures award.

Unlike conventional flat maps, bird's eye views are a fascinating kind of specialty map that present an urban area as if it was being viewed from an elevation of 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The town "below" appears in a kind of imaginative snapshot at a moment in history, revealing the factories, homes, parks, cemeteries, churches, and even the details of vernacular architecture.

The story of the exhibit, so vividly dramatized through these fascinating maps, is of the growing economic vitality and urbanization of Boston and the New England region during the last half of the 19th century, when industrialization and immigration were the primary engines of urban growth. These maps are also arresting works of popular art, all devised by the Boston craftsmen who were the leaders in the field. The public is reintroduced to these talented, forgotten artists and to a genre of graphic fine art not often seen today. To illuminate the process and intentions of the mapmakers for creating these unusual perspectives, the exhibit includes examples of their diaries, field sketch notes, and manuscript drawings.

The exhibit catalog features full-page color illustrations of the bird's eye views displayed in the exhibit, as well as extended captions discussing the history and economy of the individual communities. The views, which generally are not oriented with north at the top of the page, are paired with late 19th-century topographic maps that identify the artist's vantage point in composing the drawing. In addition, essays by Alex Krieger and Debra Block provide cartographical and historical background for appreciating this fascinating collection of urban views.

To order, please make your check payable to:
Norman B. Leventhal
Map Center, Inc.

Send to:
Norman B. Leventhal
Map Center at the
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (