The Hub’s Archipelago: The Connected Histories of Boston and Its Harbor Islands


  • Pavla Šimková Collegium Carolinum


The Boston Harbor Islands are today natural-looking places. Established as a national park in 1996, they seemingly form the perfect opposite to the urban environment of Boston. However, a closer look at the history of Spectacle Island, a representative example of the islands’ historical development, reveals close ties between the islands and the city. Over centuries, Boston has shaped and transformed its harbor islands, embedding them firmly within its urban fabric.

Author Biography

Pavla Šimková, Collegium Carolinum

Pavla Šimková studied American cultural history and English literature at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, and at LMU Munich, Germany. She finished her dissertation on the environmental history of the Boston Harbor Islands at the Rachel Carson Center/LMU Munich in 2019. Her dissertation explores the essential yet often obscured role the harbor islands have played in the history of Boston and, more generally, the ways in which coastal islands have been used by harbor cities. She is currently a researcher at Collegium Carolinum, a Munich-based research institute focusing on the history of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

An 1899 bird’s-eye view of Boston Harbor. Map by the Union News Company, c. 1899. Public domain.