Though its always been the center of New England life, Boston has undergone tremendous change since it was founded in 1630 by Puritan colonists. The city has withstood the test of time despite having experienced dramatic political upheavals and economic changes. Immigration patterns and cultural shifts have repeatedly transformed its population and demographics, and massive construction projects like the Big Dig have transformed its physical landscape.
But one significant transformation is often overlooked: the fact that huge portions of the city were literally underwater until they were filled with land taken from the Trimountain – the “three originals hills of Boston”, Beacon, Pemberton, and Mt. Vernon. Landfill projects of the 19th century tripled the city’s size and expanded what used to be a very narrow isthmus connecting it to the mainland. Coastlines were expanded outwards into the Bay and Charles River. Downtown, the Waterfront, the South End, South Boston, Charlestown, Dorchester, and East Boston all increased in size and the entire Back Bay neighborhood was created. Land reclamation in the peninsula continued throughout the century until 1890, when the Back Bay was completely filled.