Navigating Maps on Town Website

April 6, 2023
Selection of a map from 1875 Beers Business Directory found in the Historic Maps section of BedfordMa.Gov

There’s a section of the Town of Bedford website that has a good chance to make a cartophile out of anyone.

Whether you enjoy history, nostalgia, boundaries, zoning, geology, landscape, ecology, data, or poking around in your neighbors’ business, the town website has a map for you. It’s border line legend-ary. 

For the folks who just caught those two map puns, you’re really going to love looking through the site. 

The town’s catalog of maps can be found at: 

If you click on “Bedford Property Finder” and then on the link on the resulting page, you’ll find the town’s GIS (Geographic Information System) map (or find it directly here The interactive tool is so much more than a property map. You can use the Layers option to look around town at floodplains, easements, historic district zoning, wetlands, and many other details down to the placement of utility poles and fire hydrants. 

This map layer shows the stone walls that hikers and dog walkers could pass by in the Altman Conservation land on the way to Two Brothers Rocks. 

Using the GIS mapping tool, you can see all sort of graphical data from property lines, utility poles, and here, the gray-beaded lines represent stone walls in the Altmann Conservation area. Source:

On the path of hiking, Bedford trail maps can be found at:

If hiking isn’t of interest, there are links to maps of the MBTA routes, a printable street map, and a link to an Unofficial Street Register. 

An Unofficial Street Register isn’t actually a map, but “a database of all the roads in Bedford compiled from various sources, such as Town Meeting votes, County and State Highway information, the Middlesex South Registry of Deeds, and Planning Board decisions.” It’s a list that seems if not official at the very least kinda almost official, listing the streets, their location, width, and status. The Register shows that no one in Bedford can have “Country Road” take them home to the place where they belong since the location of “Country Road” is currently “Unknown” and its status is “Abandoned.” Happening upon a list titled “Unofficial Street Register” listing abandoned roads could be a promising plot for a hometown ghost story, made even better when the Register also lists streets labeled as “Ancient Ways.”

If you are plotting your old-timey ghost story novel, you don’t have to coordinate much research more than checking out the list of historic maps here that are off the charts. (Pun hat trick!) 

The historic maps are listed chronologically starting from 1760 when the town was nearly a blank slate. Two centuries later there is a 1958 Shopper’s Guide with 24 unlabeled locations that many residents can likely fill in. 

In the 1875 maps, while still a North, South, East and West School, a Springs Road Slaughterhouse, and Main Street as the great road in town, Bedford starts taking shape into a form recognizable today. Beers Business Directory shows Bedford Springs (described as “The Gem of New England watering places”) and the East Bedford location of E. Bowman, a florist, who “will be most happy to receive all those who are kind enough to call and examine my new and rare Greenhouse plants.” 

There is a link to the USGS topo map, which from here looks like Bedford is labeled as part Concord and part Billerica. 

There are also many other maps to be discovered on the town website, not on the town maps list, most created by Bedford Public Works, including the compost center, the Cultural District, and a Sidewalk map for plowing

To whatever degree you chart your interest in maps, and on whatever scale you measure your passion, surveying the Town website should address your interests.

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