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City of Boston Archives
Government and Organizational Resources
archives
city of boston
records
deeds
maps

201 Rivermoor Street
West Roxbury, MA 02132
(617) 635-1195
Archives@boston.gov
https://www.boston.gov/departments/archives-and-records-management

The City Archives houses and manages historic City records and documents that are no longer in active use, including photographs, plans, deeds, maps and other documents. You’d be surprised by the wide range of historic materials that can inform your understanding of the history of Boston and its neighborhoods and buildings. Examples include:

  • Assessing Department records (property values, maps, descriptions, ownership records
  • Real estate, personal estate and poll tax records 1822-1985.
  • Scrapbook of advertisements of property auctions and sales 1872.
  • Plans circa 1918-1985 (large format plans arranged by ward number and block. Includes the block numbers, street names, plot dimensions, and building footprints.)
  • Surveyor plans, arranged by neighborhood, which were drawn circa 1856-1877.
  • Collection of aerial photographs of Boston, circa 1980.
  • Boston Redevelopment Authority Records including photos and other documents of Boston’s urban renewal efforts, c. 1958-1987 .
  • Inspections Services Department records can be particularly informative, and include: 
  • Building division records
  • Building permit files of demolished buildings (takedowns) circa 1919-1987
  • Photographs of demolished buildings circa 1950-1990
  • Permits and permit log books 1874-1963
  • Permit plans circa 1970-1995
  • Certificates of use and occupancy 1972-1995
  • Special examination reports and photographs 1915-1918 reports of special examinations of buildings in response to complaints of unsafe conditions. Includes photographs of buildings.
  • Street numbering records 1898-1972 includes building department copies of notices of changes in street numbering sent by the public works department and street number logs from 1898-1946, 1951-1958 and 1964-1970.

Other Resources

2018-2019 Alliance Annual

In this 51 page booklet, we highlight Preservation Achievement Award winning projects, Boston pho

250 Years of Home Architecture in Boston

Take a virtual walk down history lane and explore great neighborhoods–including Beacon Hill, Dorc

Boston Groundwater Trust Video Series

In 2018, The Boston Groundwater Trust debuted a series of award winning informational videos abou

Longwood Medical and Academic Area (LMA) Historic Properties Survey—Final Report

The Boston Preservation Alliance received mitigation funds from Boston Children’s Hospital to upd

Boston Harborwalk—A Public Access Map of Boston’s Coastline

The Boston Harborwalk is a nearly 40-mile public waterfront walkway that winds through Boston’s w

The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse

Until now, little has been known about the climate change reductions that might be offered by reu

Back Bay Houses

Boston’s Back Bay is a miracle of preservation.

Piano Row: Cycles of History

Piano Row: Cycles of History is an original film documentary about the evolution of Bost

Historic Ladder Blocks—An Endangered Resource in Downtown Boston

With no local protection or means of preventing demolition, the Ladder Blocks are at great risk o

Boston Modern: The Spirit of Reinvention

Boston Modern: The Spirit of Reinvention events and booklet are part of the Modern Module program

Boston's Changing Neighborhoods

On February 4, 2016 the Boston Preservation Alliance hosted an Urban Forum: “Boston’s Changi

Easements as a Tool for Preservation

Here in Boston there are a few ways we can protect a building or other historic resource.

Neighborhood Preservation Workshops

The Boston Preservation Alliance’s Neighborhood Preservation Workshop was a pilot program that ra

Inspectional Services Department (ISD) The ISD enforces building and housing regulations. Permits applications for building, modifying, or demolishing a building are submitted to this department. Vacant and foreclosed properties are registered with the ISD, which includes documentation and photographs.
Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) The BPDA is Boston's planning and economic development agency. They work with other City departments and organizations on a wide range of planning and development initiatives. Development projects are subject to comment periods and public processes. The BPDA plays a far reaching role in shaping the City.
Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) The Boston Landmarks Commission, along with the volunteer local Historic District Commissions, serve as the City’s steward of Boston’s historic buildings, places, and neighborhoods. The BLC and the Commissions are part of the city’s Environment Department, provide information and assistance concerning the regulatory process, historic preservation planning, archaeology, sources for historical information, and technical assistance.
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