Boston Blog Posts

December 13, 2018

Boston Gas Lamps

As you walk around the streets of Back Bay, you can't help but notice the lamps that line up the streets. These lamps have decorated the streets of Back Bay and Beacon Hill for many years.

Boston Gas Lamps

Ten Fun Facts about Boston Gas Lamps

In the early part of the 19th Century, many of the streets in Boston were lit with colonial Oil Lamps

By the 1890s, the City of Boston had converted many of the oil lamps to gas lamps

In 1909, Boston began the process of installing tungsten electric lamps. By 1913, all the lamps along the major streets in Boston were converted to electric lamps. Gas lamps were still used in residential districts.

In the 1940s and 50s, the City of Boston took over the lamp maintenance and converted all the remaining lamps to electric to maintain a city-wide standards.

In the 1960s, the City started the process of reverting the lamps back to gas in various Boston historic neighborhoods.

In 1965, It cost $100 per lamp to convert the electric lamps back to gas. ($100 in 1965 would cost $800 in 2018.)

Today are approximately 67,000 lamps in the city of Boston and 2,800 of them are gas lamps.

Each gas lamp cost the city $2 a day or $180 a year in gas usage when it's on all day.

In 2011, 600 gas lamps were modified so they would go on at dusk. Prior to 2011, the gas lamps were always on. Some locations were manually controlled by residences or the gas company.

Having an auto-on/off igniter switch has saved the city $140,000 a year - or $980,000 since 2011. The city got a grant from the state's Department of Energy Resources to fund the switch over. The igniter switch cost $750 per lamp.

December 6, 2018

Tip O’Neill Christmas Tree

On the Massachusetts State House lawn is an evergreen tree that was donated to the state as the official state Holiday Tree.

Who Was Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr.

Tip O'Neill is known as the longest serving speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is best known for negotiating deals with President Ronald Reagan.

Tree in front of the State House

O Neil Christmas Tree

Five Things I Learned About the Tree

The tree is a 22-foot tall white fir

When the Tip O'Neill tree was announced there was some backlash about it being a Holiday Tree or a Christmas Tree.

Then Gov. Deval Patrick told the public that he calls it a Christmas Tree - despite the lighting ceremony calling a Holiday Tree lighting. The official invitations to the ceremony came from the governor's office.

At the time, politicians were using "Holiday Tree" as a separation of Church and State. Many legal experts, such as Harvey Silverglate said that it didn't make sense. He said that politicians still used the term "Chanukah Menorah Lighting."

The original tree planted in 2012 didn't make it. It was infected with a fungus called Cytospora fungus and had to be taken down. It was replaced on October 24, 2017. Oddly enough the O'Neill tree replaced another tree that also had to be taken down.

Sign next to the Tree

The sign next to the tree makes no reference to it being a Christmas Tree:

The Commonwealth dedicates the Holiday Tree to:

Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr.

Massachusetts House of Representatives 1937 - 1953 Speaker 1949 - 1953 United States House of Representatives 1953 - 1987 Speaker 1977 - 1987

Given by his family to commemorate the centennial year of his birth December 9, 2012

November 29, 2018

Boston Marathon Memorial

Last year, the City of Boston announced that they planned to have a memorial on Boylston Street for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. The original ribbon cutting date was to be a few days before this year's Boston Marathon - 5 years after the bombing.

If you visit the sites today, you'll see that there is no memorial. The City has already laid out the spot for the memorial, but construction for the memorial is still a ways away.

Boston Memorials 2018

Latest Boston Marathon Memorial Update

  • There will be two memorials at the location of the two bombs that went off on April 15, 2013. On both sides of the memorial will be Japanese Cherry Trees that may bloom each year around Patriots day.
  • Should be ready by 2020 - the eighth anniversary of the Marathon Bombings.
  • The memorial is being designed by Pablo Eduardo. His last work in Boston was the Kevin White statue at Faneuil Hall in 2006.
  • Initial project cost of the project was $2 Million. More than $100,000 has been spent on the design process.
  • Cost of the Memorial was raised by the victim families. Money collected as part of the Boston One fund, special fund set up after the bombing, will not be used for the memorial.
  • There are plans for a much larger memorial, but the exact location hasn't been announced yet.

The Boston Globe has a story with pictures of what the memorial will look like.

Bill Campbell Quote

Remembering Those that Lost Their Lives

  • Martin Richard, an 8-year-old third-grader from Dorchester
  • Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China
  • Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford.

264 others were injured including 16 people who lost limbs

November 22, 2018

Beantown Pub Feature

The BeanTown Pub is a unique restaurant that features all your favorite comfort foods. They have one special attraction that is unique to the restaurant location, you can toast to three signers of the Declaration of Independence - Samual Adams, John Hancock and Robert Treat Paine.

BeanTown Pub is located directly across the street from the Granary Burying Ground. You can see the grave of Samual Adams from the restaurant.

Beantown Pub Text

Restaurant Even Promotes it

With over a dozen draft beers to choose from and a burger that has been recognized as one of the best in town, you won't find a better local spot for lunch, dinner, or a night out! We are the only pub in Boston where you can drink a Sam Adams while viewing the grave of Sam Adams!

Finding the BeanTown Pub

The Beantown Pub is located on 100 Tremont Street, directly across the street from the entrance of the gates of the Granary Burying Ground. There is no public parking. The closest T stop is Park Street, just make sure to cross the streets when you come up at the train station.

November 15, 2018

Engine 33 and Ladder 15

At the corner of Boylston and Hereford Street, is a picturesque building that houses one of the busiest firehouses in the city of Boston.

Engine33 Ladder15

Seven Things I Learned About this Fire House

This firehouse first opened on February 20, 1888, when Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company 15 were organized in this new firehouse.

Boston's Great Blizzard of 1888 happened on March 11, 1888 - it's one of the worst snow storms that hit the Northeast.

The Firehouse was designed by city architect Arthur H. Vinal in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

This is Bostons Oldest Firehouse.

Engine 33 responds to approximately 4,100 incidents per year, making it one of the most active firehouses in Boston. That comes out to 11 calls a day.

Ladder 15 responds to approximately 3,800 incidents per year. That's about 10 calls per day.

This firehouse is part of the Boston Fire Department District 4 Unit

Four Plaques on the Firehouse

There are four plaques on the firehouse to remember those that have died at the line of duty: Cornelius J. Noonan (d. 1938), Richard F. Concannon (d. 1961), Richard B. Magee (d. 1972), and Stephen F. Minehan (d. 1994).

These only represent a small group of the fire fighter's who have died in the line of duty.

Fire Fighters Killed in the Line of Duty from this firehouse.

Engine 33 (5)

Lt. Michael D. Greene - Killed on the Line of Duty January 13, 1913.

Cornelius J. Noonan - Killed on the Line of Duty February 10, 1938.

Malachi F. Reddington - Killed on the Line of Duty November 15, 1942.

Richard B. Magee - Killed on the Line of Duty June 17, 1972.

Lt. Edward Walsh - Killed on the Line of Duty March 26, 2014.

Ladder 15 (4)

Will C. Swan - Killed on the Line of Duty September 28, 1922.

Richard Concannon - Killed on the Line of Duty January 23, 1961.

Stephen F. Minehan - Killed on the Line of Duty June 24, 1994.

Michael Kennedy - Killed on the Line of Duty March 26, 2014.

November 8, 2018

Love Locks on Massachusetts Ave

When you walk on the Massachusetts Ave overpath of the Massachusetts Turnpike you may notice some locks on the fence. This is called the Locks of Love. Its a way for couples to show their love for each other.

Nobody knows why the Massachusetts Ave bridge was selected as the location for the Love Locks.

Boston Locks of Love

Five Facts on the Locks of Love in Boston

The Boston tradition appears have started in the summer of 2013, when three heart shape locks appears for the death of DOMA.

This is a tradition that has been going on for years in other countries, it began in Paris on the Pont Des Arts bridge.

New Residential towers are expected to be built next to Massachusetts Ave Green Line and will result of the removal of the Love-Lock fence.

The Massachusetts Ave bridge is the most common place where you'll see the love locks. There is no indication on where people may put locks once construction starts for the new residential towers.

The Locks on the bridge are removed by the city as they fear for the safety of the bridge. The locks are destroyed and can not be claimed.

November 1, 2018

The Midtown Hotel

The Midtown Hotel, a small hotel located opposite the Christian Science Center in the Back Bay, is on the market. It was officially placed on the market this past summer.

Nearby two new luxury condos high-rise were recently put up. It's expected that whoever purchases the hotel property will tear it down and put up yet another a high rise.

Midtown Hotel

Seven Fun Facts About the Midtown Hotel

Open in 1961 and cost $2.5 million to build

There are 157 guest rooms on 3 levels.

According to various sources the hotel has a 80% occupancy rate.

This year, the Midtown Hotel hosts 36 Northeastern students. Last Spring, was the first semester that Northeastern used the hotel for occupancy.

One of the Midtown bell captain, Kevin O'Leary has been there 35 years.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist currently owns the land on where MidTown resides. They are the same owners who sold the land where 1 Dalton Street is now being built.

Some estimates have the one-acre site going for as much as $80-million.

October 25, 2018

Cows on the Boston Commons

In Colonial Boston, grazing cows use to roam freely on the Boston Commons. Some locals even joked that cows were the first official residents of the Boston Commons. It was so common to see cows, that once a young Ralph Waldo Emerson escorted his family cow to the Boston Commons.

Not only were Cattle allowed to roam, so were pigs, sheep and goats.

The city was growing rapidly that Mayor Harrison Gray Otis decided in 1830, to ban all Cows on the Boston Commons. This was done so that the Boston Public Commons could be a full-time public park and a recreational grounds - which officially happened in 1837.

Cows were officially banned on the Boston Public Gardens on May 1st, 1830. Making April 30th, 1830, the last day the cows were free to roam on the Commons.

Gone But Not Forgotten

Cows make their yearly appearance on the Boston Public Gardens on the first week of June to celebrate National Dairy Month. Usually, they appear near the Park Street station.

October 18, 2018

Five Napkin Burger Closes in Boston

Last month 5 Napkin Burger at the Prudential Center closed it doors. It was a favorite location for my daughter as she loved the gluten free rolls. (Read the Blog post from October 4, 2016.)

While some people might be surprised that the restaurant closed, it really didn't come a surprise to me because it was never busy. When the wait time for the Cheesecake Factory would be 45-minutes, there would be no wait at 5-Napkin and they are just doors apart.

The last time I ate there was at lunch time - just days before closing. I was very surprised of the number of tables during a busy lunch hour.

When I started working the Back Bay, it was the place to go to after work. I can remember going and sitting at the busy bar and ordering one of their famous burger. It was a busy happening place.

Five Napkin Boston

Five Things I Learned about 5 Napkin in Boston

  • Opened at 105 Huntington Ave on April 9, 2011
  • Previous Tenant was Daily Grill, before that it was Applebee's
  • When it opened, there were nine burgers were on the menu. They were priced from $7.95-$12.95 (Last year I got a Five Napkin Burger for $14!)
  • Officially Closed on September 14, 2018
  • There are current 4 other locations - which are all in New York City. (Closest one is 209 Miles away)

October 11, 2018

Land Parcel on Scotia St

Open land space in the Back Bay is getting very scarce - with the red-hot economy, developers are trying to grab as much open space as they can for building high rise luxury apartment.s

Just off of busy Boylston Street, there is a piece of open land that will soon have high rise development. This will be the new location for 1000 Boylston Street apartments.

1000 Boylston Street
This open Parcel land will soon be gone.

Ten Things I Learned about the Open Space Parcel

Official address of the land is Scotia St Boston Ma 02115. The City of Boston Parcel ID is 0401345000

The lot size is 11,109 sq ft.

The land was previously owned by the St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church. In May 2008, the Archdiocese of Boston sold the land to ADG Scotia LLC for $13.85 million. ADG Scotia LLC is sometimes known as "Scotia Parcel."

ADG Scotia is a joint venture between John Fish's Suffolk Ventures and Weiner's Weiner Ventures.

While it was owned by St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church the land was tax exempt. Since 2009, the City of Boston has collected $41,000 each year in additional tax revenue. The land is currently assessed at $3,301,600.

The St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church used the funds from the sale to do a major interior renovation - new floors, pews, painting and a redesigned entrance.

ADG Scotia LLC has plans to build a new tower in the space. Ideas of the Hotel/Retail/Parking complex first came out in 2008 but was shelved because of the "great recession."

In January, ADG Scotia LLC paid $30,000 to Travaglini Eisenberg Kiley LLC to lobby so the Massachusetts General Laws 6C could be changed to allow air rights by sale or by lease.

The original Plans for 1000 Boylston Street have been changed a lot since 2008. Original plans had 2 towers - One 566 feet and 39 stories, the other 283 feet, and 24 stories. The new plan has a single high rise - 484 feet and 27 floors. The new tower would be just as high as the State Street Bank. It will be the 21st tallest building in Boston.

Plans for building 1000 Boylston Street are underway. Trees in the parcel have been taken down.

October 4, 2018

MillStone by Haymarket

As you walk along the backside of the Boston Public Market, you may encounter a strange stone wheel and a cement path heading towards Faneuil Hall.

While it might look like an artistic display, it's actually a piece of Boston's history that is more than 300 years old. It's an original Millstone that helps colonial Bostonians grind up grain.

Mill Stone

Six Things I learned about the Mill Creek Millstone

  • On November 16, 1999, During the construction of the "Big Dig," two Millstones were found near the Dock Square Parking Garage. (Which is next to the Hard Rock Cafe)
  • According to one archeologist, the discovery of the millstones and colonial trash nearby is the "finest such artifacts ever found from Colonial Boston - the true treasure is encased in the creek bottom"
  • The Millstones each weighed 2,200 pounds and are believed to be dated from the 1700s.
  • In Colonial Boston, there was a large pond near the area near Faneuil Hall. The millstones were found in an area where a creek was created from the pond to the ocean.
  • The rise in tide would how the the grist mills were powered.
  • There use to be a sign next to the Millstone, but it's been removed for many years - leaving the history and story of the Millstone a mystery to those that walk by.

Colonial Boston Map

Shawmut- Peninsula
A map of Boston that shows the location of Millpond.

You can learn more about the Millstone on the Massachusetts Historical Commission page.

Source: Information was gathered from various sources including the Boston Globe which covered the story in 1999.

September 27, 2018

North Square

North Square is one of the most popular squares in Boston, about four million visitors visit the square annually. Most people visit the square as part of the stopover to the Paul Revere House.

On October 11, 2017, a groundbreaking ceremony was done to launch a major reconstruction project. The project will transform the square to be more of friendly space for gatherings. In addition there will be new statues to commemorate several story sculptures from the North End.

North Square Park in October 2015

North Square2015_1

North Square Park in September 26, 2018

North Square2018_1

Six Things I learned about North Square Park

North Square in the North End, Boston of Boston, Massachusetts sits at the intersection of Moon, Prince, North, Garden Court, and Sun Court Streets. Paul Revere lived here, as did other notables in the 17th and 18th centuries. Prior to July 4, 1788, the area was known as Clark's Square.

The 2018 restoration project will cost $2.5 million. The work will be replacing all the original cobblestones that align the street - making the area more accessible to wheelchairs. The work should be completed by the end of the year.

The AJ Art Design is working on the bronze sculptures.

The square is part of the Freedom Trail, this small historic square offers benches next to the Paul Revere House.

Most people look at the Paul Revere House, but at 29 North Square, next door is the Moses Pierce-Hichbom House. It is one of the two 18th-century buildings still standing in the North End.

In 1907, there was an attempt to change the name of the square to Scigliano Park. The City Aldermen turned down a request to name it after George Scigliano. He did a lot for the Italian Americans which made up the North End. He founded the Italian Protective League - an Italian labor union.

September 20, 2018

200 Clarendon Artwork

On the afternoon on September 22nd, 2015 a strange art appeared on the side of .200 Clarendon (formerly the Hancock Tower), a few days later, Boston Properties, the property owner, revealed on Twitter that it's a piece by French street artist JR

200 Clariton Art Work_sm

Six Things About the Art Work

  • This was s translucent painting on glass of the 200 Clarendon Tower spanning from the 44th to the 50th floors.
  • The art was 150 feet wide and 86 feet tall
  • It took 3 days to successfully put up the artwork with the help of Pedro Alonzo, a Cambridge-based independent curator.
  • The painting is based off a picture that JR took on his worldwide travels.
  • According to the Press Release at the time, the reason for the art: "JR prefers for the artwork to emerge quietly, for the city to respond to the imagery."
  • The painting was temporary and came down on April 20, 2016 - two days after the 120th running of the Boston Marathon.

Hand Distance
View of the Artwork from the Southwest Corridor Park
October 19, 2015

Four things about the artist named JR

September 13, 2018

William Ellery Channing Statue

At the corner of Bolyston and Arlington Street in Boston is a statue that has overlooked Arlington Street for the past 115 years, it's a statue of William Ellery Channing.

William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 - October 2, 1842) was a popular Unitarian preacher in the early nineteenth century.

Description of the Monument

A portrait of William Ellery Channing, standing holding the Bible in his proper left hand and clutching the folds of his ecclesiastical robes to his chest with his proper right hand. The sculpture rests atop a granite base that is installed in a marble niche beneath a marble canopy. The monument is approached by two granite steps.

The Channing Picture

Nine things I learned about the William Ellery Channing Statue

Statue was paid for by John Foster, a former attendant at the Arlington Street Church. He left $30,000 in his Will for the purposes of a new statue for his mentor William Channing. ($30,000 in 1903 is equivalent in purchasing power to $835,636.36 in 2017)

John Foster, was a notable Boston Merchant who died on April 9, 1897. He was part of a successful wholesale grocery store - Foster & Taylor. His Will also contributed funds to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Town of Hudson, NH, Warner, NH, Perkins Institution for the Blind, MIT and many others.

Mr. Foster directed that the William Channing statue be placed in the Garden across from the church because Channing was once pastor of the Federal Street Church, the predecessor of the Arlington Street Church.

The statue was designed by Vincent C. Griffith and created by Herbert Adams. The design was approved by Boston Art Commission.

The foundation for the statue was put in place on September 11, 1902.

Statue was dedicated on June 1st, 1903 ( 60 years and 8 months after William Channing passing ) The day was chosen because it was the 100th anniversary of the ordination an installation of Channing into the Christian ministry.

There were about a thousand people in attendance when the statue was unveiled, including William Ellery Channing Eustis the niece of William Channing.

The William Ellery Channing statue is the first statue in Boston of a clergyman. The next clergyman statue was placed only seven year later - the Phillips Brook Statue down the street at the Trinity Church.

If you walk up to the statue and look at the foot of the statue on both sides, you can see the signature of the developer - Herbert Adams

Two Inscriptions that are next to the statue

He breathed into theology a humane spirit and proclaimed a new divinity of man.

He preached with spiritual power and led a great dance toward Christian ideals.

Back Side of the Statue

Many people may not know, but on the backside of the statue, the part you can see in the Public Gardens, is the following quote:

I see the marks of God in the heavens and the earth, but how much more in a liberal intellect, in magnanimity, in unconquerable rectitude, in a philanthropy which forgives every wrong, and which never despairs of the cause of Christ and human virtue. I do and I must reverence human nature... I thank God that my own lot is bound up with that of the human race.

Fun Facts

To get an idea of how long the statue has been there, when it was dedicated in 1903, the Boston Red Sox were on their way to a championship season by winning their first World Series over at the Huntington Grounds. Just days after the statue was dedicated, June 1903, the State of Massachusetts had begun to issue the first driver's licenses and registration plates.

September 6, 2018

Fenway Farms

If you ever been to Fenway Park, no doubt you seen the Fenway park sign on the building:

Fenway Park Sign
Sign on the Building on Jersey Street

Did you know that on the otherside of the famous sign is a vegetable garden?

Fenway Farms View

Five Things I learned about the Fenway Garden

  • The Garden was first put in during the 2015 Red Sox season. Prior to that the area was just an unoccupied roof top that wasn't much value to fans because there's no views of the field.
  • Food grown in the garden are distributed throughout the park - mostly for the EMC Club seats and the Vineyard Vines Club.
  • You can reserve space at the Vineyard Vines Club and request some food from the Garden.
  • The Farm is maintained by the Green City Growers.
  • You can view the farm during the game or during tours of the park. When you do tour the park, they will stop at the farm and tell you all about it.
  • By the end of the season, 6,000 pounds of produce harvested from the farm,, not bad from a place that wasn't usable.

Farm Crops

This is a very active farm, and things get moved as quickly during the season. The exact plants that are grown are up to the farmers and the Chefs:

In the Spring you'll probably see:

arugula, broccoli, broccoli raab, carrots, chard, chives, cilantro, collards, greens mix, head lettuce, kale, lettuce mix, mint, oregano, parsley, pea shoots, radish, rosemary, scallions, snap peas, spinach, strawberries and thyme, violas.

In the Summer:

basil, beans, broccoli, chard, chives, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, flowers, hot peppers, kale, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, scallions, strawberries, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, thyme, tomatoes and zucchini.

Learn More about Green City Growers

You can learn more about Green City Growers and how they are changing empty spaces all over the city to practical farms.