3-D Boston watershed map from 1893 restored at Tufts

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It saw its prime more than a century ago, winning recognition at the 1893 World's Fair as a 3-D display of the rolling lands that supplied Boston's water. Then, it saw years in a sooty attic.

Now, a rare map of Boston watersheds is being restored at Tufts University and will offer a look at the history of an expansive water system that 2 million people learned not to take for granted during a massive water main break last week.

The 6-by-9 foot plaster and papier-mache map was hauled to a basement classroom, where students have spent the semester on the meticulous and sometimes boring job of giving the old map new life.

Conservator Ingrid Neuman, who is leading the project, said she knows of no similar maps.

"It's got great historic value," Neuman said. "It's irreplaceable. It goes beyond value ... because there's nothing to compare it to."

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