Secret Staircases, Paths, and Hideways in Boston | Skillshare Projects

Kimberly Maroon

Photographer / Designer



Secret Staircases, Paths, and Hideways in Boston

I moved to Boston in 2011 to a neighborhood outside of center city called Allston. It borders another neighborhood Brookline and I frequently go for walks or plan my running routes through it (even though mostly uphill). Brookline is very scenic with tree-lined streets, big homes with wrap around porches mixed in with cozy cottages. I found a set of stairs one day called Winchester Path that connected Winchester St to the next block Mason Terrace. I later learned all the streets in Brookline were carved out by a glacier which explains why most are so steep. The stairs and paths are kind of shortcuts that allow residents to cross to the next street easily. I was excited to discover more paths and stairs noted on GoogleMaps. Each one is unique! different lengths, landmarks, characteristics, etc.

I make it a point to take friends and visitors to at least one of the paths when they come over. We all have secret places that we go to meditate, clear our mind, relax. They are my secret places and I love to share them with others, to show them something new and different and unexpected. 

I'd like to include all of these on my map, all a manageable walk from my Allston apartment:

Winchester Path

Mason Path

Summit Path

Winthrop Path

I have tons of photographs (as I should, I'm a photographer!). I plan to use the photos to help me be more precise, but also show the objects, landmarks, or characteristics of each path. I had difficulty during the hand drawing assignment, but I'm pretty happy with my first pass at it. 


I tried some of the imaginary city experiments from the video. I found it interesting to draw a little swatch of a map. I had a print out of the huge neighborhood where I'm focusing on the secret stairs and paths so I clipped a portion of it that I wasn't using. I used and like the way they show houses in purple. It's much nicer than googlemaps and a lot more colorful. Some streets were white while some major or busier roads were orange and yellow. 

I also traced the map that shows the stairs. I made sure to include my starting point (Brainerd/Royce) but still view all the way to the furthest path, Winthrop. I didn't realize there's so much ground that I cover. It never seemed that far. It was always helpful I kept my T pass on me just in case I got lazy and wanted to hop on the trolley back. One thing I wish I could show is the elevation. The center of each of the snail shaped curls on the map is pretty high compared to the starting points on the streets below. 



I'm approaching nailing down a final form of my map that I can start working on asap. I did more sketches, even did a tracing of a projection of a digital map, and also traced a projection of one of my photos. I had an idea to make markers for the map with these......each is unique to each path.

Here's some tracings of projections....

In these and in all the digital maps online, the paths are very small. I need to flip the focus around and make them very large and prominent on my map. I thought my map was about making the streets just right, making sure it connected, and was like the real map and it made sense to the user in terms of major roads. Really, if I take away the streets and leave landmarks you should still be able to find the paths. Especially if I incorporate photographs. 

I started creating vector graphics of the icons I was making for the map. A friend of mine has a folding template I'd like to try to use for the map as I wanted to make the final map pocket-sized for taking on a walk.

Are there any resources for foldable templates? 

I'd like to test out printing the images on one side and then when you open you see the corresponding map. Or something like a 'window reveal' in the paper. I'm struggling with how to translate the analog hand drawing style to digital. I guess I could draw the icons more precisely and scan in.

I took a break from the stairs and began working with other elements of my map like the text. 


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