This sign is awaiting installation

The Bulfinch building's prominent fa├žade faced the harbor, to impress incoming vessels. The first floor had retail businesses, from sailmakers and coopers to barbers and grocers. The top floors provided warehouse space. The photo was taken before 1868.

Prestigious Wharf and Building

As global sea trade opportunities expanded, a group of Boston investors proposed a new deep-water wharf, along with new streets and buildings. They hired architect Charles Bulfinch to draw the plans, creating Broad and India streets. Construction of India Wharf began in 1804, and soon after, Bulfinch designed the India Building that stood here for more than 150 years.

To have one's office at India Wharf was considered highly prestigious. Boston's leading ship owners had their "counting houses" on the second floor, while the ground floor was filled with sea trade-related retail businesses. The building also housed the consulates of Belgium, Russia, Norway, and Sweden.

In the 1860s, shipping to this area of Boston Harbor began to decline, largely because there was no rail access to move goods inland. A new sea wall was constructed in 1869 and fill added between the wharves, shortening Central and India wharves. A century later, the last section of the once prominent Bulfinch building was torn down.

More...

How did the Harborwalk come to exist? [expand]

How did Colonial laws help create today's Harborwalk? [expand]

Additional Information on India Wharf & building [expand]

The new Atlantic Avenue [expand]

Boston Looks Seaward [expand]

India Wharf in the 1830s [expand]

About the Wharf Rats [expand]

Resources

Credits

Main image: Library of Congress

Plan: Original plan from Historic New England. Illustration with added text by Mary Reilly in Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston. Courtesy of author Nancy S. Seasholes

Bird's eye view: Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library

Wharf Rats photo: Courtesy of Historic New England

About us

The Friends of the Boston Harborwalk is a group of volunteers, affiliated with Boston Harbor Now, dedicated to enhancing enjoyment of Boston's 43-mile Harborwalk. The Friends meet monthly to plan and coordinate our three main priorities.

1. Host monthly two-hour long tours connected to the Harborwalk or Boston Harbor;

2. Facilitate waterfront clean-up days to ensure that the full length of the Harborwalk is clean, safe, and inviting;

3. Create engaging interpretive signs to help people learn about and enjoy the rich stories connected to Boston's waterfront.

For more information and to join the Friends, contact Mike Manning, Chair, mmanning@bostonharbornow.org .