Ordering Information

$55.00, 7 x 10, hardcover with dust jacket, 888 pages, 220 b&w images, 4/c endpapers, index
Print ISBN: 978-1-942155-61-4
e-book ISBN: 978-1-942155-63-8

Publication date: September 19, 2023

2023 Foreword Indies Awards in Regional category

2024 Bronze IPPY Award in Regional Nonfiction

To order copies visit Pathway Book Service.

A History of Boston

by Daniel Dain

with contemporary photography by Peter Vanderwarker


Boston is today one of the world’s greatest cities, first in higher education, hospitals, life science companies, and sports teams. It was the home of the Great Puritan Migration, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the first civil rights movement, the abolition movement, and the women’s rights movement. But the city that gave us the first use of ether as anesthesia, the telephone, technicolor film, and the mutual fund—the city where Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott founded their world-changing partnership—was also the hub of the anti-immigration movement, the divisive busing era, and decades of self-inflicted decay. Boston has the most important history of any American city. Yet its history has never been given a comprehensive treatment until now. Join Dan Dain as he acts as your tour guide from the arrival of First Peoples up to the election of Boston’s first woman and person of color as mayor. Dain’s masterful work explores the policies and practices that took Boston from its highest heights to its lowest lows and back again, and examines the central role that density, diversity, and good urban design play in the success of cities like Boston.

Readers’ Comments

“Dan Dain’s A History of Boston arrives at a critical moment when cities like Boston contemplate their future in the post-pandemic era of hybrid and remote work. Dain offers up a compendium that spans both old and new Boston, reminding us how urban centers with staying power are hardly static. They rise and they fall, and whether they rise again depends on their ability to adapt to changing times.”

SHIRLEY LEUNG, Boston Globe columnist and associate editor

“Dain’s A History of Boston lays out a blueprint for cities wanting to thrive in the 21st century through diversity, density, and good urban design. The deep analysis of one of America’s oldest cities provides insights for all cities looking for a road map forward.”

MALIA LAZU, founder, The Urban Labs and MIT lecturer

“Dain’s massive volume regarding Boston history merits a comfortable chair, a glass of wine, and a good reading light.”

LAWRENCE S. DICARA, former president of the Boston City Council, mayoral candidate, and author of Turmoil and Transition in Boston: A Political Memoir from the Busing Era

“Welcome to Boston, the city that reinvents itself every century or so. That’s one takeaway from a magnificent and masterful book on the history of Boston written by Dan Dain, a top commercial real estate lawyer by day, author at night. But the book also offers a warning: Boston’s current success is not cast in stone, having followed nearly a century of stagnation and malaise.”

SCOTT VAN VOORHIS, publisher, Contrarian Boston, and columnist for Banker & Tradesman

“Dain’s A History of Boston helps the reader understand how land-use and environment contribute to shaping a community. Dain’s Boston is the go-to book.”

R.J. LYMAN, former director of the Mass. Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office and chair of Governor Bill Weld’s presidential campaign

“For those who want to truly understand this city and its past, Dain’s book is indispensable.”

ANDREW LELLING, former United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and Boston Globe Magazine Bostonian of the Year in 2019

About the Author

DANIEL DAIN was born in Boston and grew up in Newton. A graduate of Vassar College and Michigan Law School, he’s spent his professional career as a lawyer in Boston, working with commercial property owners and developers on issues related to their use and development of real estate. Dan writes and lectures widely on land use law and urban planning and is the founder and president of the law firm Dain Torpy, where he chairs the firm’s real estate litigation practice. He is the manager of an equity fund that invests in independent local restaurants, a co-founder and treasurer of the Needham Land Trust, and is a board member of the business advocacy groups NAIOP of Massachusetts and A Better City, as well as the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture. Dan also chairs the arts company White Snake Projects, the Town of Needham’s Golf Club Advisory Committee, and the Massachusetts Real Estate Bar Association’s Litigation Section. He lives in Needham with his wife and two kids.

About the Photographer

PETER VANDERWARKER is a photographer and artist. His photographs are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Recent exhibitions include The Language of Landscape at Gallery NAGA, 2023; Seaport Views at the US District Courthouse in 2016; and Vanderwarker’s Pantheon, at the Boston Athenaeum in 2009. Vanderwarker’s work received Institute Honors from the American Institute of Architects in 1991. Peter has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and he was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University in 1997. His work has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Graham Foundation.