Online: Massachusetts Maps
The Town of Boston in New England by Capt. John Bonner
The Town of Boston in New England by John Bonner is the first printed map of Boston, Massachusetts. Bonner (circa 1643-1726) was a captain, navigator, and shipwright. A wealth of information about pre-Revolutionary Boston is available through Bonner’s map, including street layouts, churches, and public buildings. The map also illustrates Boston’s importance as a port city, detailing the location of docks, shipyards, wharves, and ropewalks. Bonner’s map includes the years of construction for significant churches and public buildings, as well as the years in which there occurred great fires and outbreaks of smallpox. At the time of printing, Boston had 42 streets, 36 lanes, and 22 alleys. There were nearly 3,000 houses of which 1,000 were brick and the rest were of timber. The population was estimated to be near 15,000.
Francis Dewing printed an unknown number of copies of the map and sold them throughout Boston. Updates and reissues of the maps were frequent through the end of the century.
The map in the collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society is the only known copy of the third state of the 1722 map depicting Boston, likely published in 1725. It is in extremely fragile condition, is missing a few pieces, and has been placed on an archival backing.
The Massachusetts Historical Society holds a facsimile of the Bonner map, printed in 1835. Please see the online display of the Bonner facsimile map.