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Boston, Massachusetts: The Boston Stone

Some say the Boston Stone marks the geographic center of Boston, others dismiss it as an old, fake landmark.

9 Marshall St., Boston, MA
On the north side of the cobblestoned alley named Marshall St., which cuts the northeast corner of Union and Hanover Sts. Painted on the brick wall above the stone is a big hand with a finger pointing downward; it's unrelated, but helpful.
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The Boston Stone.

The Boston Stone

Embedded in the foundation of a building is a round sandstone about two feet across. The inscription below it states simply "Boston Stone 1737" -- there is no plaque explaining its meaning. However, legend has it that the stone was imported from England in 1700 by Thomas Childs, who operated a paint mill on the site. Childs used the stone to grind pigment for his paints. In 1836 the paint mill was demolished. During the excavation of its foundation, the stone was found and mortared into the base of the replacement building's brick wall.

Some sources claim the stone marks the geographic center of Boston; that surveyors used it to measure distances to the city from outlying points (in the same way the London Stone allegedly was used during Roman times). But most of the region's mileposts measure the distance to Boston from the site of the Old State House, not from the Boston Stone.

Other evidence suggests that the marker may have simply been named the "Boston Stone" by a Marshall Street merchant, trying to increase business to the area through the creation of a fictitious landmark. It remains a mystery why the year 1737 was given as the date for the stone's inscription.

[Valerie, 04/29/2015]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Asaroton: Trash in the PavementAsaroton: Trash in the Pavement, Boston, MA - < 1 mi.
Birthplace of the TelephoneBirthplace of the Telephone, Boston, MA - < 1 mi.
Golden TeapotGolden Teapot, Boston, MA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Skull Cliff, Lynnfield, MA - 11 mi.

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