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Fire Insurance and Real Estate Atlases of Boston at the BPL

An overview of fire insurance and real estate atlases of Boston at the Boston Public Library

Historical Urban Atlases of Boston @ the BPL

This guide is a starting point for anyone interested in urban atlases of Boston, which provide detailed, building-level historical information about the city. This guide is focused on atlases of Boston and the inner suburbs. For atlases of other Massachusetts towns, see the Massachusetts Towns guide.

Where to Find Information

The easiest way to search for atlases is by using our tool, Atlascope.

If you prefer a list of citations, under the "List" tab, you will find all of our holdings, by neighborhood and in chronological order, with citation information. If you only have a street address and do not know the geographic location, check the street indexes in the atlases.

To access the atlases as GIS data layers you can use this guide, which is available from our GIS documentation and guide website, Cartinal

Under the "Publishers" tab, you will find information about major publishers and the types of features shown in their atlases, such as building material or property owners.


The easiest way to find urban atlases at the BPL is by using Atlascope, a new discovery tool developed by LMEC


Atlascope allows you to overlay historical atlases over modern day maps, and compare changes across time.


Jump right in, or read the Atlascope User Manual to learn how it works!