Urban atlases offer some of the most important sources of information about the historical geography of cities in the United States, with extroardinary detail about buildings, owners, and city infrastructure. Until now, browsing these atlases has involved looking through volumes and pages for a specific area of interest. The Atlascope project brings nearly 100 atlases of Boston and its surroundings into a seamless digital interface. For more about urban atlases, see our Urban Atlases Research Guide.
The map viewer will automatically choose which of our collection of atlases are in view as your move around the map. Pan, zoom, and rotate the map, and then find which years are available in the layer dropdown menus.
You can also jump to a specific address by selecting Search, or find your current location by selecting Locate.
If you want to see everything that's available in Atlascope, select Show All Atlases to bring up an overview map of the entire collection.
You can control the overlay appearance by switching to Glass, Slider, or Opacity modes. Then drag the red grabber handle to compare between the overlay and base maps.
Try setting both the base and overlay layers to historic atlases. What comparisons can you make that show how the city has changed?
Atlascope was developed at the Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library by Garrett Dash Nelson and Belle Lipton. Atlas layers were prepared by a team of interns including Ian Donnelly, Hanaan Yazdi, Abby Duker, Rachel Mead, Luwei Chen, Brian Kominick, Madison Bastress, Liz Kellam and Victoria Mak.
If you use these maps in your work, teaching, or publication, please cite Atlascope Boston, Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library, together with the bibliographic information for the map(s) used, which is available in the "About this Map" tab from the map window view.
Interested in creating an Atlascope for your own city or library collection? Contact us for more information.
Searching is based on modern-day map data. Addresses, streets, and points of interest which no longer exist will not appear in this search, though they will appear on historic atlas layers.