Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Boston's Back Bay: The Story of America's Greatest Nineteenth-Century Landfill Project

Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Boston's Back Bay: The Story of America's Greatest Nineteenth-Century Landfill Project

Article excerpt

Boston's Back Bay: The Story of America's Greatest Nineteenth-Century Landfill Project. By William A. Newman and Wilfred E. Holton. Boston: Northeastern University Press, published by University Press of New England, Hanover and London, 2006. 228 pages. $40.00 (cloth); $19.95 (paperback).

In Boston's Back Bay two academics at Northeastern University (one a retired professor of geology, the other a member of the Sociology and Anthropology Department) offer to educate the curious, or the ignorant, about one of Boston's most famous and charming districts. They note: "Many people today puzzle over the strange name of the Back Bay and know very little about the Back Bay's creation in the second half of the nineteenth century" (vi). The answer to the question of name is found quite readily in numerous sources available to casual tourists, interested Bostonians, and just about anyone. Newman and Holton have put together this account of what they term "America's greatest nineteenth-century landfill project" to further elucidate the way the work was conceived and carried out. In doing this the authors provide a great deal of information and detail that may be of interest to a narrower authence than they intended, but is noteworthy and of value nevertheless.

The serious student of urbanization and technological development will find much in this book. What these authors have written, in an obvious labor of love, is an encyclopedic study of an important district in New England's premier city. …

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