This pre-WWII map was published in 1934 by the insurance industry following a survey of Boston Inner Harbor to identify fire hazards created by the oil terminals along the Chelsea and Mystic Rivers. Many 19th century American cities had suffered catastrophic fires and the increased density and industrialization of American cities including Boston meant that such fire risks would continue and the consequences of such fires would be even more damaging. This map is of interest from an urban planning history point of view in particular.
The map shows the Chelsea River, the Charles River, Charlestown and the Main Ship Channel running through Boston's Inner Harbor. The map is a visual directory of business on the waterfront. We see cheek by jowl the location of the fuel industry storage buildings such as City Fuel, Tidewater Coal, as well as the Boiler Works, Middlebrook Wool Combing Co. and McQuesten Lumber. The importance of Boston Harbor as an international shipping port and regional transportation hub is illustrated in this map where the Albany Cunard Line Pier is shown as well as the Boston & Maine Railroad Pier. Fort Point Channel is also shown with its swing bridge to permit passage of large ships. The Bethlehem Ship Building Corp. (Simpson Plant) is also shown.
The fuel industry remains in Boston Inner Harbor, as does the need for industrial uses rarely portrayed on city maps. The city is still an international import/export hub. How hard it would have been just following the Great Depression and still seven years before the outbreak of WWII to imagine that many of the manufacturing uses shown on this map would be replaced in Charlestown by the health care industry and urban tourism.