A retail view of Boston

TitleA guide to Boston
CreatorJohn Sample, Jr.
Year1895
Dimensions26 × 36 cm
LocationLeventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library
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A pointing finger in red overprint marks the location of the Copley Square Hotel, where this map would have been given out to guests visiting Boston. John Sample, Jr. illustrated this map with the points of interest that a tourist might have wanted to see on a walking tour, like the State House, Old South Church, and the “New Public Library” then under construction in Copley Square.

See another map that selectively leaves out features for more nefarious ends.
Wander across the exhibition →

But this map wasn’t a pure public service. Paid for by advertisers, it also draws the tourist’s attention, again using red overprint, to a handful of business establishments, who would have paid to have their locations shown on the map. Top billing went to the map’s sponsor, the Metropolitan Rubber Co., whose storefront is featured in an illustration in the map’s cartouche.

Tourist maps and local business promotion groups still use similar methods to market local retail economies today. What’s shown and what’s hidden on these maps is a function, not of cartographic principles, but of who’s paying the bills.

More about this map

This Atlascope view shows the location of the Metropolitan Rubber Co. in 1895. The building owned by “Trus. Tufts College” is 49 Summer Street.

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