The Colonial Waterfront as Borderlands: A Spatial Investigation into Boston’s Docks, 1700–1775

Toby Nash


Early modern port-cities and the seaborne shipping networks that supply them have generally drifted into the fields of urban or maritime history. However, in these port-cities, at a frequently overlooked juncture between the city and the sea lies the important space of the waterfront. The case of the built environment of Boston’s pre-Revolutionary docks uncovers a volatile border between land and sea—a borderlands. The exchanges and conflicts at the waterfront, through the lens of a borderlands approach, broadly illustrate the difficulties in governing this space that beleaguered early modern empires in the Age of Sail.


Colonial America, Built Environment, Spatial History, Eighteenth Century

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