The City as a Palimpsest
Sunset over Back Bay, by Joann Vitali
Settled in 1630 on the narrow Shawmut Peninsula, Boston has since tripled in size, and it was in part thanks to the massive landfill projects undertaken during the 19th century that the city was able to accomodate and sustain growth. Many of the puzzlingly winding streets, however, follow the contours of the original coastline.
The city has transformed itself, and many of its sites have been repurposed, but its fabric and monuments still show signs of original form and use, if you know where to look. Not all traces of the past have been erased and some have been meticulously preserved; the city today celebrates its history, tradition, and heritage.
In this module, as we explored the various ways in which Boston can be seen and read as an urban palimpsest, we untangled the temporal layers co-present at several iconic Boston sites and traced manifestations of the city's past in its material space today.