A View of Boston Taken on the Road to Dorchester, 1776 423
This view of Boston from Dorchester was a familiar sight to John Quincy Adams in traveling between Braintree and Boston, Haverhill, or Cambridge. Drawn by landscape and townscape painter William Pierrie (or Pierie), ca. 1776, it appeared among the numerous coastal charts in Joseph F. W. Des Barres' The Atlantic Neptune, London, 1777. Both Des Barres, a Swiss-born naturalized English subject, and Pierrie had served as British officers in America before the Revolution.
In the foreground to the right, the brook flowing into the South Bay then formed the boundary line between Dorchester and Roxbury. Shirley Palace, the large building on the left, now standing as
the Shirley-Eustis house, was an elegant country home in the Dutch Palladian style, built in the 1740s by Governor William Shirley and occupied by Governor William Eustis from 1814 to 1825. Beyond the estate, across the Charles River estuary, is Cambridge.
From Shirley Palace the road to Boston turned toward the Shawmut peninsula, which was connected to the Roxbury mainland by a narrow neck of land, soggy at high tide and spray-blown in rough weather. Beyond the neck was the town of Boston, built at the base of three distinct peaks—Mount Vernon, Beacon, and Pemberton hills. From its founding and throughout the eighteenth century, settlement in Boston was concentrated along the road to the neck (now Washington Street), on King Street (now State Street), around Dock Square, and along a number of streets in the North End where merchants and shipbuilders had their dwellings, warehouses, wharfs, and yards in close proximity (George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564–1860, New Haven, 1957; Edith Roelker Curtis, “The Palace That Will Shirley Built,” New-England Galaxy, 4:21–34 [Spring 1963]; Walter Muir Whitehill, Boston: A Topographical History, Cambridge, 1959, p. 1–46 passim).
Courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum.