Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unto the Sea Shall Thou Return: Boston, 2050

Chris Beneke

On my office wall, I have a replica 1775 Boston map. It looks like this:

Zoom view
Boston, 1775
As I stared idly at it last week, I was suddenly struck by how much the drawing resembled other maps that I'd seen recently, such as this one:

These Scary Maps Explain What Sea Level Rise Will Mean in Boston
Projected map of Boston after a 5 ft. seal level rise (coupled with another 2.5 ft. storm surge.)
If you concentrate only on the grey areas above, you should discern (as I finally did) an eerie resemblance to the 1775 map at the top.

I wasn't the first to notice the similarity. The Atlantic ran a piece last February that I missed, and perhaps you did as well. There, Emily Badger noted the resemblance between Boston in the 1640s and the exceedingly damp, post-global warming projections of what it will look like in 2050, 2100, etc.

By dint of massive and repeated landfills over the last two centuries, Bostonians have doggedly claimed areas that once belonged to the sea. Before this century is over, the sea may be taking many of them back.


hcr said...

This is a mind-bending way to start a Tuesday. Thanks... I think!

Steven Cromack said...

If you pretend global warming is a myth, then none of this matters.

Randall said...

Loved using the old and new map overlays when I taught Boston history. Wild to think about how the elements could do some reclamation.

Dave Nichols said...

The sinking of Boston and the reversion to its 1775 shoreline was one of the premises of the sci-fi anthology FUTURE BOSTON (1994), edited by David Alexander Smith.