Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Walking Tours of Boston's Made Land

Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Walking Tours of Boston's Made Land

Article excerpt

Nancy S. Seasholes Walking Tours of Boston's Made Land. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006. 212 pages. $18.95 (paperback).

Walking Tours of Boston's Made Land is a collection of twelve illustrated walking tours focusing on the areas of man-made land in the city. It is a travel book made for historians, Bostonians, and walkers with interests as diverse as culture, architecture, and civil engineering. It is not, nor does it present itself as, an all-encompassing tourist guide. For a novice to the city, it should be viewed as a supplement to, rather than a replacement of, the typical Lonely Planet type travel guide.

Because of the book's unique focus, the reader will encounter many but not all of the major historical and tourist attractions of the city. Parts of the Freedom Trail, the Harbor Walk, and so on are included in these tours. However, the book is true to its title, concentrating on the one sixth of the city that was actually man-made. This was usually done by building seawalls out into the tidal flats and filling in the resulting areas with dirt, often obtained by leveling the hills of other parts of the city. If an attraction is in or close to one of these areas then it is included in the tours; if not, you will not find it in the book. The flip side of this is that the walks often bring you to hidden historical gems that you would never find on the beaten path, such as the Charles River Dam in Walk 11. For this reason alone, this fascinating, inexpensive little book should be owned by any serious student of Boston. But the casual tourist with only a weekend in the city will want to first explore the more traditional venues such as the Freedom Trail or the African American Heritage Trail and would be better served by a more traditional tourist tome.

As a practicable travel guide, this book has many points in its favor. After reading the book, the reviewer took Walk 11 so that it could be experienced from the traveler's perspective. As stated in the preface, the author's aim was to provide a travel book that is easy to carry around. Mission accomplished, as the book is lightweight and easily fits into a small bag or larger coat pocket. …

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