BNC trails are open; restrooms available; Nature Center closed (click for more details).
This detail from an 1893 topographical map by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the Canterbury Brook and wetland – the site of the future BNC – at the center, before the coming of the Boston State Hospital. Map reproduction courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.
By 1903, the date of this close-up map, the first buildings of what was then the city-run Boston Insane Hospital had been built. Notice that this map shows the brook on the site as slightly more straight than in the previous map; comparison to other maps and atlases of the time show this depiction to be more accurate. Map reproduction courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.
This 1946 map shows the many changes that took place on the site as the hospital (now under state control) expanded. Note in particular that the brook has been moved northward, and a road (later called Myerson Road) built from the main building area across the brook to the new American Legion Highway. Map reproduction courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.
An aerial photograph from 1925 shows some of the changes seen in the previous slide. The new course of the brook is in the upper left, while the faint diagonal just to the right of it still shows the old straight course; at the far left, Myerson Road runs from the buildings to the brook (American Legion Highway hasn’t been built yet). Note too that most of the wetland has been filled in for use as farmland. Photo reproduction courtesy Boston Public Library.
In this map from 1967, the contour lines around Myerson Road are wider than before, suggesting that the land on either side had been built up further. The big new building by the blue arrow, the Service Building, was built in the mid-1960s in place of the older structure shown in the 1946 map; notice how the contour lines now skirt the southern edge of that building, suggesting that the whole area had been slightly lowered and levelled to allow construction of such a large structure. Map reproduction courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.
This aerial photograph, also from 1967, shows the same changes mentioned in the last slide: the raising of the land around Myerson Road (upper middle of the photo), and the slight lowering and leveling of the land around the new Service Building (lower left side). Note also the return of the wetland at the top of the photo. Photo courtesy Massachusetts Archives.
This aerial photograph from 2005, by MassGIS, shows the landscape today. Myerson Road is gone, but its old path is still evident, paralleled by the Snail Trail; just to the right of the Nature Center, the Nature Nook also sits on land that was raised to make the former roadbed. The Service Building too is gone, leaving the large level meadow that you pass on the drive into the sanctuary. Thus, these three features on the present BNC – Snail Trail, Nature Nook, and the large meadow – all stand on land that has been significantly changed over the past century! Image courtesy of The Boston Atlas/Boston Redevelopment Authority.