Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston

Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston by Nancy S. Seasholes

Book Description – Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston

Product Details Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (August 29, 2003) Language: English
ISBN-10: 0262194945
ISBN-13: 978-0262194945
Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.3 x 9 inches

Editorial Reviews


A book of great import…

(Martin Zimmerman
Landscape Architecture)

Gaining Ground is a stunning compilation of material that documents over three centuries’ worth of [changes].

(Richard Longstreth
American Studies International)

…Seasholes has provided a document that brings history alive…

Civil Engineering)

Seasholes’s well-documented study provides a unique perspective on Boston’s history.


This book charts the ‘made land’ accretions in anecdote-laced prose…

San Francisco Chronicle)

This book will appeal to those with a special interest in Boston or in the process of landmaking.

Harold Henderson

We city walkers and history buffs have all picked up a little architectural history. Architecture is fun, but it won’t tell you why Boston looks the way it does. You have to know how there came to be land beneath the streets! Here at last is an easy-reading and complete history of Boston’s three centuries of landmaking. With Dr. Seasholes you can follow the story neighborhood by neighborhood or view the city as a whole. This is public history at its best.

(Sam Bass Warner, Jr., author of
Greater Boston)

For nearly 400 years Bostonians have been busy digging, filling and making land. Whether it was simply dumping refuse into open spaces between wharves or laying out complicated plans to fashion new neighborhoods, we have probably made more land than any other city in America. Filling in is what Boston is all about. In a book that can only be described as a tour de force Seasholes takes us on a tour of ‘gained ground.’ With the precision of an engineer, the perspective of an architect, the sense of a historian and the perseverance of an archaeologist, she is our Baedeker across every inch of new ground. It is simply not possible to understand Boston without knowing this history, and it is impossible to know this history without reading Seasholes. If you can handle the weight of this hefty volume then tuck it under your arm and head out to the streets and use it to discover Boston underfoot.

(William M. Fowler, Jr., Director, Massachusetts Historical Societ)

Gaining Ground is now the definitive treatment of Boston’s landmaking. Its scope — from the central waterfront to East Boston and from 1630 to today — the depth of its research, and its use of historic maps to illustrate each project make it a truly encyclopedic work.

(Richard Garver, Deputy Director, Boston Redevelopment Authority)

About the Author

Nancy S. Seasholes is an independent scholar, a Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at Boston University, and periodically teaches at the Harvard University Extension School.
Walking Tours of Boston’s Made Land is the companion to her earlier book,
Gaining Ground (MIT Press, 2003).

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