The land in question, consisting of the lots along West Brookline and West Canton Streets and the passageway between them, can be thought of as having two distinct portions defined by the original boundary [Boundary] between the City and the Boston Water Power Company [BWP]. The land south of the Boundary was created and owned by the City and the land north of the Boundary was created and owned by BWP. The following law was first enacted in 1971. It codified what was already a general principle that under the common law rule of construction the mention of a way as a boundary in a conveyance of land was presumed to mean to the middle of the way if the grantor owned the way. So although none of us are assessed for the land in the alley, we are considered to own it to the mid-point.
Derelict Fee Statute: General Law 183, Section 58. Every instrument passing title to real estate abutting a way, whether public or private, watercourse, wall, fence or other similar linear monument, shall be construed to include any fee interest of the grantor in such way, watercourse or monument, unless (a) the grantor retains other real estate abutting such way, watercourse or monument, in which case, (i) if the retained real estate is on the same side, the division line between the land granted and the land retained shall be continued into such way, watercourse or monument as far as the grantor owns, or (ii) if the retained real estate is on the other side of such way, watercourse or monument between the division lines extended, the title conveyed shall be to the center line of such way, watercourse or monument as far as the grantor owns, or (b) the instrument evidences a different intent by an express exception or reservation and not alone by bounding by a side line.