On the ninth floor of Boston City Hall, tucked away in a drab room with fluorescent light fixtures, is a miniature scale model of the city of Boston. I got to see it a few weeks ago while waiting for a public Design Commission meeting to start.
The ninth floor of City Hall is also where the Boston Planning & Development Agency lives, and this model room is part of the agency’s offices.
The bass wood model includes downtown, parts of the Innovation District, Charlestown, North End, and Beacon Hill. Some of the Back Bay is shown in a separate model on a nearby table. For those wanting to see the South End on either of the models, you won’t find much of it at all.
The model was first begun in the 80s and a full-time in-house model builder keeps it up to date. It belongs to the Urban Design department of the agency, and is used to study options for planning and development.
Since only those who visit Boston City Hall are able to see the model, the agency’s Urban Design Technology Group created a 3-D computer model, designed developers, media, and the general public visualize the city. That highly detailed model shows over 92,000 buildings and some portions can be downloaded free as DWG and Max files.
It’s fun to see the wood model, though. If you get a chance, make a visit to Boston City Hall.