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Sail through the Fan Pier history

Learn more about the Fort Point Channel and the history of of the semi-circle area known as Fan Pier.

The Boston Harbor from the Fan Pier on a sunny day.

Take a walk along the Boston Harbor and learn about the history of the area.

As we prepare for warmer days ahead and more time along Boston’s waterfront, we’re going to sail through the history of Fan Pier.

This area is the main entry point to the Fort Point Channel, the maritime space connecting South Boston to downtown Boston + feeding into the Boston Harbor. The channel is 23-ft deep and 175-ft wide, and it played a critical role in the expansion of Boston’s development.

Boston merchants made the big bucks through foreign trade, as ships sailed around the world at the end of the 1700s.

It wasn’t just the business that was boomin’. The city’s population also increased with immigrants finding jobs at the docks, rail yards, and factories.

Here are three events that impacted the Fan Pier we know today:

The Boston Wharf Company was founded in 1836, and like much of the city’s land during that time, parts of the shoreline needed to be filled in so wharves + warehouses could be built. After the Great Boston Fire of 1872, debris from the city were also used as fill in for the pier.

Boston’s fishing industry also reeled in major success in the 1860s when a new method to pack fish on ice was introduced and increased the demand for the Boston fishing businesses.

In the 1860s, the New York and Boston Railroad Company merged into the Boston, Hartford, and Erie Railroad Company. That rail line passed over the marshland that would later become Fan Pier. Later, when the port’s imports began to outgrow the existing wharves, the rail companies expanded operations and filled in the waterfront areas of South and East Boston.

Today, Bostonians can stroll the Harborwalk and learn more about the history of the area from the historical markers along the waterfront.

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