Reading the City Through History and Law/Plan For Boston

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Plan of Boston
Example alt text
Bonner's Plan of Boston is the most consistently used 'plan' of the city.
About the Plan
Plan AuthorJohn Bonner
Plan Year1722
City Founded1722
Survey TypeMetes and Bounds
CategoryEarly American Plans

Boston was founded in 1630 to replace Charlestown as the principal city of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Governor John Winthrop named the new town after Boston, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. The site of the new colony was selected because of the natural harbor and ease of protection.

The Plan[edit | edit source]

The Bonner Plan isn't actually a plan, but it is the earliest known map of the city. Bonner drew the map in 1722, when Boston's population was around 12,000. The map is useful because it illustrates the wharfs, docks and other aspects of the early city. Boston today is known for its confusing and difficult to navigate street system, and this early map shows how it was reinforced. Despite its apparent haphazard appearance, Boston was far more 'planned' then other Massachusetts and New England towns.

Notable about the plan itself is the use of Great Street (modern day State Street) that led from the Boston harbor to the main highway outside of the city. On Great Street, the center of town, with a town hall, open-air market, and meeting house, is the modern day location of the Old State House.

History[edit | edit source]

Vitruvius' De Architectura libri decem (De Architectura)[edit | edit source]

Greek house plan after Vitruvius

Vitruvius is the author of De architectura, known today as The Ten Books on Architecture,[1] a treatise written in Latin on architecture, dedicated to the emperor Augustus. In the preface of Book I, Vitruvius dedicates his writings so as to give personal knowledge of the quality of buildings to the emperor. Likely Vitruvius is referring to Marcus Agrippa's campaign of public repairs and improvements. This work is the only surviving major book on architecture from classical antiquity. According to Petri Liukkonen, this text "influenced deeply from the Early Renaissance onwards artists, thinkers, and architects, among them Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472), Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), and Michelangelo (1475–1564)."[2] The next major book on architecture, Alberti's reformulation of Ten Books, was not written until 1452.

Vitruvius is famous for asserting in his book De architectura that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas – that is, it must be solid, useful, beautiful. These are sometimes termed the Vitruvian virtues or the Vitruvian Triad. According to Vitruvius, architecture is an imitation of nature. As birds and bees built their nests, so humans constructed housing from natural materials, that gave them shelter against the elements. When perfecting this art of building, the Greeks invented the architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. It gave them a sense of proportion, culminating in understanding the proportions of the greatest work of art: the human body. This led Vitruvius in defining his Vitruvian Man, as drawn later by Leonardo da Vinci: the human body inscribed in the circle and the square (the fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order).

Vitruvius is sometimes loosely referred to as the first architect, but it is more accurate to describe him as the first Roman architect to have written surviving records of his field. He himself cites older but less complete works. He was less an original thinker or creative intellect than a codifier of existing architectural practice. It should also be noted that Vitruvius had a much wider scope than modern architects. Roman architects practised a wide variety of disciplines; in modern terms, they could be described as being engineers, architects, landscape architects, artists, and craftsmen combined. Etymologically the word architect derives from Greek words meaning 'master' and 'builder'. The first of the Ten Books deals with many subjects which now come within the scope of landscape architecture.

Significance[edit | edit source]

  1. Vitruvius, Pollio (transl. Morris Hicky Morgan, 1960), The Ten Books on Architecture. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20645-9.
  2. Liukkonen, Petri (2008). "Vitruvius (fl. 46-30 B.C.E.)". Retrieved 14 November 2009Template:Inconsistent citations{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)