The Boston Stone - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 21.711 W 071° 03.402
19T E 330633 N 4692001
Quick Description: According to some sources, thisstone mounted on the side of a building, named the "Boston Stone," was for a time used as the origin point for distances from Boston.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 12/3/2011 8:26:05 AM
Waymark Code: WMD800
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member stvanme
Views: 15

Long Description:
In Boston, behind the famous restaurant, the Union Oyster House, in a junction of cobblestone-lined alleyways, there is a round stone feature that is mounted in a building. Below that is another stone, with the incription "Boston Stone - 1737."

Some web sites claim that this stone was used as an origin point for measuring distances from Boston to other points. Here are some that support this claim:

American Guide Series: Massachusetts, A Guide to Its People and Places - "The Boston a granite block (1737), surmounted by a spherical granite paint-grider about the size and shape of a cannon ball. The lock and the ball constituted a hand paint mill for Thomas Child from 1693 to 1706. The stone was later used as the starting-point for the measurement of mileages from Boston." - "The stone was imported from England in 1700 by the painter Tom Childs. The previous paint mill building at this location was torn down or destroyed, and the mill-stone was then found and embedded in the current structure. The stone is hollow, and about two feet in diameter. The inscription at the base reads "Boston Stone, 1737." For many years the stone was used as a starting point for surveyors, making it famous. It is suggested the name was taken from the ancient "London Stone," used by the Romans as a central point for many roads. The Liberty Stump, was another famous reference point used for measuring distances." - "(Blackstone Block in Boston): At the base of the shop next door, the 1737 Boston Stone served as the terminus for measuring distances to and from ‘the Hub.’ (The State House dome now serves this purpose.)"

However there are sources that cast doubt on this claim: (Boston Freedom Trail) - "Embedded in the wall of the building across from the Ebenezer Hancock House is the legendary 1737 Boston Stone, said to be used to measure distances to and from "The Hub." Since the Old State House was used for that purpose until that role shifted to the dome of the new State House, that story may not be true - especially since records in the Library of Congress quote a Dr. Elliot as describing seeing the son of a shopkeeper inscribe "Boston Stone" on the rock as a way to draw attention to the shop's location."

I Walked Boston Audio Tours - "Many sites will have you believe that this stone was once the Zero marker—that being the point from which all distances to Boston were measured. This, in fact, has never been the case. The Massachusetts State House has served this purpose for years, either as the Old State House on Washington Street ( or its current home on Beacon Street ("

The stone was located at the neck of the old Shawmut Peninsula - the original shape of Boston. The Old State House was not far away - about a quarter mile to the southwest. It was built in 1713. So, it could have been the origin point before the Boston Stone, or it could have been used starting at a later point.

So, was this stone at one time been used as the zero point or origin marker? The records seem unclear, and the sources split. It does make an interesting story, however.


Editors. American Guide Series: Massachusetts - A Guide to Its People and Places. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, 1937. (The Boston Stone):
(visit link) (Blackstone Block in Boston):
(visit link)

Boston-discovery-guide (The Boston Freedom Trail):
(visit link)

I Walked Boston Audio Tours (Zero Marker - The Boston Stone):
(visit link)
Monumentation Type: Brick/cobble/mortared stone

Monument Category: Pre-1900 Post Road Milepost

Accessible to general public: yes

Historical significance:
The stone was mounted into the building in 1737 and is claimed to be the origin point for distances from Boston.

County: Suffolk

USGS Quad: Boston South

Approximate date of monument: 1/1/1737

Monumentation Type (if other): Not listed

Monument Category (if other): Not listed

Explain Non-Public access: Not listed

Monument Website: Not listed

NGS PID: Not listed

Other Coordinates: Not Listed

Other Coordinates details: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
1. A closeup photo of the monument is required.
2. A 'distant' photo including the monument in the view is highly recommended. Include the compass direction you faced when you took the picture.
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Metro2 visited The Boston Stone - Boston, MA 6/28/2010 Metro2 visited it