A Google Map of Boston Neighborhoods

Because of its expansion through annexation and land reclamation, and because of the vast differences in size between its neighborhoods, making a web-ready neighborhood map of Boston is extremely difficult. Most online neighborhood maps currently available are simple line drawings or text paste-overs.

I've attempted to solve both these problems by creating a neighborhood map of Boston using Google Maps. It overlays the neighborhood boundaries onto Google's existing maps, and scales easily in and out.

Plus, unlike other nifty Boston Google Maps, which are script API-based, mine is readily embedable into any webpage, and plays nicely with other user-generated Google Maps content, so you can create mashups—here's a screenshot of neighborhoods and foreclosures (I don't think Google lets you you link to mashed-up user-generated maps...yet).

I've probably gotten some of the neighborhood lines wrong, so don't hesitate to email me corrections. My site also uses an Object element to insert the maps, so your mileage may vary with Internet Explorer. Do yourself a favor and download Chrome.

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Comments

Very Nice!

I like this quite a bit, and have it bookmarked! I'm no expert, but I think JP extends a bit further east into Franklin Park.

Yep. JP should go right to

Yep. JP should go right to Franklin Park right up to Seaver st. The line between Egleston sq. and Jackson sq. is disputable, but Montebello road and Peter Parley road are definitely in Jamaica Plain. A reasonable border between JP and Roxbury would be Columbus ave, but I wouldn't argue it too strongly. The businesses on the north end of Amory st. had Roxbury addresses in the 20th century.

JP also includes Forest

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JP also includes Forest Hills and Woodbourne down to Neponset Avenue. How about using the Boston Redevelopment Authority's neighborhood zoning maps as your guide? And explaining your source for the boundary definitions in any case?

Are you a politician?

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Nice job. Thanks.

I was wondering how you would handle the where Allston Ends/Brighton Starts dispute and vice versa. I see you very cleverly avoided it.

Check this link for neighborhood help

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Most neighborhoods follow zip code lines. Check out this zip code map and compile the borders as necessary. For example, your Brighton/Allston line is a bit funky compared to the zipcodes and where people consider themselves. There's a section on Western Ave that's still Brighton east of Market St and a section north of Washington St at the Brookline border.

Not the final word, though

ZIP codes don't always match the neighborhood, especially in Boston with all our lip service to local tradition. There is a corner of 02131 formed by VFW, West Rox Pkwy, and Centre St. Most who live their consider themselves to be West Roxbury residents. So much so, that there is a campaign to change the ZIP code. And there is likewise quite a bit of dispute about the line between Rozzy and JP. Approximation is probably the best we can accomplish.

Zipcodes work for boundaries in A-B

While zipcodes might not always provide good boundary lines for some Boston neighborhoods, they do for the division between Allston and Brighton. There really isn't a dispute, despite the gentle phrasing used by Kaz.

Here are the rules I follow in identifying neighborhoods in A-B:

  • Allston=02134
  • Brighton=02135
  • Allston north of pike=North Allston
  • Brighton north of pike=North Brighton

I believe, though haven't verified, that the border between North Allston and North Brighton is Everett Street.

Map has some problems

The West Rox / Rozzie / JP zip code lines don't exactly follow this map. For example, the businesses on the north side of Centre Street between the VFW and the Faulkner are in Rozzie, zip code 02131. And of course there's the famous wedge of West Rox inside 02131.

The wedge

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Didn't they finally get their Zip code changed over to '32?

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Looks great

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This map is great.

Yes, they changed that section of Roslindale to W. Roxbury/02132 awhile back.

I noticed Readville wasn't included - not sure why someone commented below about including Mattapan - Mattapan is part of Boston. But adding Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, etc. would be nice too.

The problem

The problem is that neighborhoods in Boston aren't mutually exclusive. We have neighborhoods within neighborhoods and neighborhoods across neighborhoods.

Readville is part of Hyde Park. Fields Corner is entirely within Dorchester.

Mission Hill is part of Roxbury. Or not. Or it depends on who you ask.

Woodbourne may be just Jamaica Plain or may be part Roslindale, depending on where you draw the line. There's no official boundary.

Egleston Square straddles the JP / Roxbury line.

Etc.

To really do Boston neighborhoods justice, the map would have to be much more complicated.

The West Roxbury end of things

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Yeah, that bothered me for awhile, too (it's good to have such issues as the most important things to worry about, I guess). It's because the Chestnut Hill post office, for whatever reasons, serves that part of West Roxbury along Independence Drive (maybe because it made sense to not split up Hancock Village when it was built?).

I have always thought it ridiculous

to think of Hancock Village/Independence Drive as Chestnut Hill, but there you are. I mean, it's closer to Walnut Hill than the actual Chestnut Hill, you know?

Dorchester definitely subdivides into neighborhoods

Meetinghouse Hill, Pope's Hill, Uphams Corner, Fields Corner, Melville Park, Codman Square, Ashmont Hill, Neponset, Lower Mills, Columbia Harbor Point, and probably half a dozen others I've forgotten or never learned.

And some people ...

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Divide Dorchester into parishes.

Columbia Point is still Columbia Point - it's just the apartment complex that's now called Harbor Point. UMass, the JFK Library and the Bayside Soon-to-be-Torn-Down-Po Center are all on Columbia Point.

Because?

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The mills on the upper part of the Neponset were all in Mattapan and Hyde Park?

Bayside

Shouldn't that be the Bayside Soon-To-Be-Ex-Expo-Center?

My obligatory Roslindale/Hyde Park weirdness reply

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Poplar Street becomes West Street for absolutely no reason whatsoever, right in the middle of the block (there's even a weird sign pole with the two different street signs, one on each side of the pole), unless you realize that up until 1912, the streets were in two different municipalities.

Down on Dale Street, near the train tracks, is a hidden mini-neighborhood that I've always considered Roslindale (it's on the Rozzie side of the tracks, after all), and yet, there's still a granite boundary marker that somehow has survived decades of snow plows and which shows the boundary used to be on the Rozzie side of the tracks.

Well, sure, it's not hidden to you ...

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But I doubt anybody who either doesn't live there or right nearby or who is visiting somebody there would ever go down there - even if they did want to ignore the "No Outlet" signs (it's interesting to see how Metropolitan Avenue used to cross the train tracks).

Metropolitan Avenue

> it's interesting to see how Metropolitan Avenue
> used to cross the train tracks

Well, now we have the pedestrian overpass from hell instead.

I find it surprising that Metropolitan stretches all the way into Milton (albeit with another discontinuity due to the Truman Hwy/Pkwy).

There were old country roads

There were old country roads connecting communities that date back to colonial days. Walk Hill st. connected Jamaica Plain with the mills on the Neponset long before Morton st was laid out from Forest Hills to Blue Hill ave. When the new streets were put in, the logic of the original roads was lost. Metropolitan ave was probably one of those early roads that got chopped up by later streets. Truman Hwy is a relatively recent road, like the American Legion Hwy.

It's surprising to my visitors!

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I live on Metropolitan Avenue in Hyde Park. I've had friends attempt to get here from both the Milton and Roslindale Metro Aves. The results were not pretty. Now I'm sure to tell them to use my exact address since there simply aren't bridges where you'd like them to be.

For cars anyway. That certainly is a dismal pedestrian overpass, isn't it?

Adam, now I have to go find this stone. Thanks :)

Huh

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That's funny, I always thought Readville was a real neighborhood, as opposed to a section of a neighborhood like all the Dorchester sections.

And what about the MBTA?

The T's website lists Bellevue station as West Roxbury, but I'm pretty sure that's really in Roslindale (east of the parkway, south of Centre).

This would work well in the

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This would work well in the Lower Mills area of Dorchester - Mattapan is swallowing some of it below Gallivan...

addition

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you included mattapan and not cambridge and somerville and even medford?!?!? please will you add us as part of boston!

Could also use

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You could also use a separate box that described the "Financial District" in SE "Downtown".

Awesome!

Thanks for all the feedback. I've gotten some emails, too, so I'll try to get some sort of wiki page to better (and with less effort on my part) track all the suggestions, instead of the html page I currently have.

I only looked a ZIP codes in a few places (at least one Mattapan community organization defines Mattapan with a ZIP code) and they can be kind of tricky, since they tend describe mail routes rather than areas.

And yeah, the area around Forest Hills/Franklin Park is kind of a jumble.

-Cosmo
http://cosmocatalano.com
World's Toughest Writer

One way to proceed

If you really want to draw the minor neighborhoods in Boston and not just make a map with a half-dozen mutually exclusive polygons, then there is really no fixed reference for defining all the neighborhoods. We here can hash out the borders of JP for you, on which there is almost a consensus, and there are already available zip code and BRA maps for the major boundaries. But there's no single source that'll tell you where Bay Village starts and stops, and what exactly Peter's Hill includes, what's in and out of Kenmore Square, etc. I know because I've looked.

You'd really have to ask multiple people who live in the smaller neighborhoods in order to arrive at a reasonable boundary conclusion for all the sub-neighborhoods.

One way you could proceed with that is by starting a blog that allows registered users to post .kml code. As in,

'here's my definition of Bay Village:
'?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
'kml xmlns="http://earth.google.com/kml/2.2">
'Document>
etc.

(opening brackets removed because it wouldn't post here)
You could pop the .kml code into an online map example and link to it, and people who disagree could download and tweak the code. Google Earth is free and it's easy to change the code using the map as a GUI.

If the ball got rolling, you might end up with the best community consensus available about Boston sub-neighborhood boundaries.

I suggest this only because I know you've got loads of time and nothing better to do. :P

Good idea on paper

The thing with kml is that it gets real messy, real fast. If we were just spitting out squares and triangles, it would be ok. But the more data points you add, the longer the and sloppier things get.

I have, however—for anyone still following this thread—set up a wiki for you all to register your information in. I (hopefully with your help) should I have all the pages populated with data by Monday. Then I'll start correcting the map itself.

You'll need to create a login to edit. Please read the About pages before making any major changes. And thanks again!

-Cosmo
http://cosmocatalano.com
World's Toughest Writer

Why are zip codes like this?

That's a very interesting page and set of maps, but it does not explain why the USPS defined zip codes in this non-polygonal manner.

Polygons and centroids and areal units Oh My!

Excuse me, but I need to destress from finding ways to explain this very problem in lay language for my work. That and the work I put into past spatial statistics projects.

AAAAAARARRARARARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay. The reason that zip codes are not polygons is largely historical. They exist soley for the ease of delivery of mail - not for the sake of demographers, spatial epidemiologists, and the merely curious lay people. Many predated the formal zip code system across the entire country - as in Boston 10 morphing into 02110. Furthermore, some zip codes are for post office box agglomerations and don't correspond to an area at all. Some are large buildings, some are two or three large buildings in a neighborhood within another zip code, some are whole counties and some are simply one side of one street and part of another, or move back and forth across a rail line, etc.

Maddening. Simply maddening. I think I'd have twice my current amount of hair if they had been conceptualized as polygons. ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH! There I go again ... But there is hope for zip code areal units - the census has done what the USPS has not, and created what are called Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) that approximate zip codes and have nice chunks of census data with them. Unfortunately, they didn't get serious about this until 2000, so working with these units with 1980 cohorts and 1983 pollution data simply sucks.

You know what pisses me off about ZIP codes?

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They've become the easy way to tabulate geographic data, despite being, as you said, intended for nothing but mail delivery.

Insurance companies use the accident and theft data from one's ZIP code rather than from comparable surroundings. I moved to a neighborhood with much lower crime rate than my previous one, and where everyone knows their neighbors and all that good stuff, but my rate went way up because there are major highways in my ZIP code, hence more accidents and thefts. I still drive my car to the same parts of town as before I moved, and it's now parked on a much quieter and neighborlier street, but that doesn't matter since all they did was count up claims by ZIP code.

http://1smootshort.blogspot.com

I hear you

Being a resident of Medford, I get to pay for all of the commuters that get in trouble in traffic on I-93 and Wellington Circle.

It somehow doesn't matter that the person who caused these accidents came from NH, or from Andover, we get to pay for their carelessness.

Charlestown

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Goes a bit farther west than you have it on the map. Parker Street and Brighton Street are in Charlestown, as is at least part (if not all) of Roland Street.

Great work overall though.

Fenway/Back Bay border

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Neat project. I've always thought of Massachusetts Avenue as the border between "the Fenway" and "Back Bay". Your map seems to include the Christian Science Center as "Fenway" but working in the neighborhood, I think of that much more readily as Back Bay.

I'm less certain of the neighborhood interests on this, but I always thought of 28 as the division between Back Bay and the South End, not Huntington. Just on my own mentality, I'd probably include anything west of 28 as being either Back Bay or Fenway instead of South End and the small sliver of Roxbury. But I don't think I've ever heard anyone else define that stretch at all. I know I've heard of Mass Ave being used as a border, and though I know the Mother Church identifies with the Fenway, I'd still call them for Back Bay.

28?

do you mean the bus route with that number? It doesn't really go that close to the area you describe.

I think of the Southwest Corridor (Orange Line) as the boundary between Back Bay and South End, from Mass. Ave. to Dartmouth Street. From there to Arlington Street, the Turnpike is the boundary.

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State Highway 28

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I think BStu is referring to State Highway 28 which is Columbus Ave/Tremont Street from Egleston Square to the Park Square area. It runs parallel to the Southwest Corridor for most of that stretch.

Do people really call it that?

I don't think I've ever before heard someone say 'Route 28' when they mean 'Columbus Avenue'. Even on this side of the river, people say 'Fellsway' or 'McGrath-O'Brien Highway' rather than 'Route 28'.

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Well, I call it that

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But mostly because I forget where its Columbus and where its Tremont. I do call it the Fellsway when I'm in Malden.

The 28 bus on 28

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The Route 28 bus does run on route 28 on Blue Hill Ave.(the state route) from Mattapan to the Franklin Hill Zoo before the state route makes that turn on Seaver Street.

Back Bay vs. South End

This is correct. Huntington isn't the boundary, the Southwest Corridor is. It's a bit of a grey area, but to go by what the city says, the parking signs have "Back Bay" on them in that area.

Still somewhat murky

I noticed the signs today, too (St. Botolph St.) but much of the area between the Pike and Southwest corridor was taken by freight yards (the Pru, for example). What emerged from that no-man's land is not really part of the Back Bay or South End from an historic standpoint. Almost merits consideration as a distinct neighborhood.

Chestnut Hill/West Roxbury

I know that the townline between Newton and West Roxbury is Bryon Rd. right off of Lagrange. There's a fancy sign there and everything. That whole area is pretty wacky. Newton, West Roxbury, and Brookline all mash together and become Chestnut Hill. It's the Voltron of zip codes.

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Brighton Sliver

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I always thought that a small sliver of Brighton existed between Brookline and Allston. If I recall, Brainerd Rd. near Harvard St. is considered Brighton.

Redistricting maps. Boston City Council.

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Redistricting maps for Boston City Council Districts need Districts' bordering streets' names labelled. Redistricting officials and Redistricting advocates have failed to offer maps with bordering streets' names labelled for each District !

I think the South

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I think the South Brookline/West Roxbury line is a bit off. Part of Hancock Village (off Independence near VFW) is in Brookline and part is in West Rox. From your map it looks like the whole complex is in Brookline. Great map, though!!