Boston blog postings

Boston Postings

Earliest: March 16, 2003Latest: March 23, 2017Total: 162

January 12, 2017

Martin Luther King Lived Here

In the early 1950s, Martin Luther King lived in Boston while he was attending school at Boston University of Theology.

He lived at two locations:

Freshman Year

Saint Botolph
Apartment at 170 Saint Botolph Street, Boston Mass.

Martin Luther King lived on St. Botolph Street for his first semester at Boston University of Divinity. He lived between Albemarle and Blackwood Street. (170 Saint Botolph Street)

Remaining Years

Mass Ave Apartment
397 Massachusetts Ave, Boston Mass.

Next Semester he and a student at Tuffs moved to an apartment nearby on Massachusetts Ave, just beyond the Mass Ave Orange Line station. While living there met his wife Coretta Scott of Alabama. ( 397 Massachusetts Ave)

He received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955.

Note: Both locations are priviate residences.

January 5, 2017

Map of Back Bay at the Back Bay MBTA Station

While waiting for the commuter rail at any of the seven tracks you will see a map of Boston's Back bay. While some of the maps are showing 'Old Boston Town," there are a few modern maps. I am guessing that the maps are there to help people located various points in the Back Bay.

Back Bay Station

Maps are Outdated

Commuters waiting for the Framingham/Worcester trains may not pay much attention to the maps in the terminal. They are located in various places along the train tracks. The maps may seem fine, but if you take a close look at the map and you may discover something doesn't look quite right.

Map Oddity

Example of some of the Oddity that you may see on the map: (This is the top left section)

Prudential Map

  • Red Arrow - Part of the the Prudential Mall is missing? Where is Barnes & Noble?
  • Green Arrow - Boylston Street doesn't have a road divider.
  • Blue Arrow - What about the pedestrian bridge over Huntington Ave?

Looks like the maps are from the Dukakis Administration.

The outdated maps are somewhat useful to get a rough idea where they are to other points in the Back Bay such as Boston Public Gardens and Newbury Street.

However, the maps are outdated. The MBTA can take three courses of action:

  • Update all the maps, which may cost a lot of money but are useful for tourists.
  • Add a sign to let people know the maps are outdated. (Historic Back Bay in the 1980s)
  • Do nothing as nobody really pays attention to the maps.

Finding the Map

You can see the old Boston map between Track 7 and 5 at the Back Bay Commuter rail station.

When you walk into the station from the Dartmouth Street entrance, enter the doors with "South End" and walk by the Dunkin Donuts stand.

Turn left after Dunkin Donuts and go down the stairs where you see "Tracks 5 & 7."

Take a right at the bottom and then another right. Take a short walk along the train tracks.

Walk to the overhead digital clock look to the right and you'll see the classic map.

December 29, 2016

Robin William Bench

In the movie "Good Will Hunting" there is is a scene where Robin Williams and Matt Damon talk on a bench at the Boston Gardens.

In Boston, this is known as the Robin William's bench. Bostonians placed flowers and other memorabilia on the bench when he died on August 11, 2014.

Good Will Hunting

GWH Movie
"Some people think they know everything - yet they UNDERSTAND nothing"

November 11, 2016

GoodWill Hunting Bench
Someone doing Yoga on the Robin William's bench at the Boston Public Gardens.

Finding the Robin Williams Bench

Robin Williams park bench is located in the Boston Public Gardens, near the George Washington Statue and the Public Garden's Foot Bridge. There is no marker or indicator that this is Robin William's bench.

  • From the George Washington Statue, walk toward the Public Garden Foot Bridge.
  • Take a left at the first Path.
  • Walk down the path until it connects to another path.
  • On your right is the Robin Williams Bench.

There are two markers in the stone at the bench. As your facing the bench and look on the ground:

  • On the left: "A place for Barbara and her Pups to pause"
  • On the Right: "In Memory of Jeffrey A. Guyer "Breath in hope, breathe out love."

December 22, 2016

David Ortiz Bridge

Ortize Bridge

In October 10 2016, the City of Boston named the bridge between Fenway Park and Kenmore Square the David Ortiz bridge. The bridge was formally known as the "Brookline Avenue Bridge."

Who is David Oriz

David Ortiz sign to the Boston Red Sox on January 22, 2003. In a few short years he became the most important clutch hitter for the Boston Red Sox. He is regarded as one of the best clutch hitters of all time, Ortiz had 11 career walk-off home runs during the regular season and 2 during the postseason.

He became the MVP of the 2013 World Series by getting the team focus on winning.

Landmark Bridge

Most people are familiar with the bridge they probably walked on it going to a baseball game at Fenway Park.

The city of Boston wanted to make a big deal of the bridge so they put up four bridge signs. The signs are located on each end of the bridge.

There are several good photo opportunities of the 'Ortiz Bridge' sign. There a great opportunity with the sign, Fenway Park and the Prudential building. The best opportunity is crossing the Brookline Ave at Fenway Park and taking a picture with the landmark Citgo Sign.

Ortiz Citgo
Great shot of the Ortiz sign and the Citgo Sign in Kenmore Square.

Selfies Alert

After you cross the bridge, there is a bonus sign just as you get down the stairs. The sign is in the window at a perfect height for selfies.

Getting there

The best way to get to the bridge is to catch the Green Line to Kenmore Square and walk to Fenway Park. The signs for the 'David Ortiz' bridge are very large and you won't miss it!

December 15, 2016

Henry and Paint

At the corner of Dartmouth Street and Stuart Street is one of the entrances to the Copley Place. Over the past year, many commuters have had to use this entrance to access the Bay Bay station from Copley Place due to the constructions of another entrance closer to the station.

In front of this entrance is an art display featuring two horses.

Henry Paint Copley

Henry and Paint

The two horses that are in the area in front of Copley Plaza are named Henry and Paint. Both of them have a plaque underneath them.

There is a plaque underneath both horses and they both have the following inscription:

The horses are made of cast bronze armature using traditional lost way process, with overlapping sheets of copper then welded on a bronze armature.

The two-pieces abstract equestrian sculpture is the artwork of known "constructivist" Deborah Butterfield. The sculptor has focused on horses for over 20 years and has never made any use of drawings or sketches. Although, the artist is not captivated with mimicking any certain aspect of the horse, be the way she carefully chooses her materials she suggests some of the most delicate and surprising characteristics of the horse.

The artist born in San Diego, CA on May 7, 1940, makes use of two important ideas in art: unity and variety. These two principles serve as a fitting compliment for the centerpiece of the mixed-use complex entrance.

The plaque also gives the dimension of the two horses:

Paint 1987 Bronze & Copper 86"h x 118"w x 36"d
Henry 1987 Bronze & Copper 89"h x 94"w x 43"d

Future of the Copley Place Entrance

The future of "Henry" and "Paint" is uncertain, as Simon Property Group planned to build a 52-story tower at the corner of Dartmouth Street and Stuart Street.

Boston Redevelopment Agency approved of the 52-story tower on May 14, 2015. The 52-story tower was due to include 542 condos and apartments as well as retail and had been a long, long time planning.

In October 2016, Simon Property Group halted any forward progress of the new tower due to rising construction costs and concerns over the rising supply of luxury housing.

December 8, 2016

Symphony Hall

Holiday Pops at Symphony Hall

For many Bostonian's the Holiday Pops is a popular annual tradition, this year marks the 43rd year of celebrating Christmas music. Tickets are extremely hard to get, and usually sell out within hours of going on sale.

The show features many popular Christmas songs, as Keith Lockhart conducts the orchestra and encourages the crowd to sing-a-long. The crowd favorite was the 12 days of Christmas and the singers add a bit of humor to the classic song.

We sat on the first balcony near the stage and enjoyed the music and watching Keith Lockhart. We highly recommend sitting between rows 1 - 20 on the first balcony. The nice thing about the balcony is that kids can see the performance because there's no obstruction view. If you sit at the tables on the orchestra floor you can't see the all the orchestra clearly.

Camera and recording equipment are prohibited in Symphony Hall during concerts. However, there were plenty of guests that were taking pictures of the performance using their smartphones.

Holiday Pops2016
View from the First Balcony, Seat 10

Fun Facts about the Boston Symphony Hall

  • Located at 301 Massachusetts Ave
  • Symphony Hall opened on October 15, 1900 with a performace of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis"
  • The Building was Designed by McKim, Mead and White
  • McKim, Mead and White also designed Boston Public Library five years earlier
  • Symphony Hall was the first American Hall to have scientific acoustic planning.
  • Harvard Professor Wallace C. Sabine did the acoustical research
  • President Eisenhower spoke at the National Council of Catholic Women in 1954
  • 1,000 Navy Inducts were sworn in at Symphony Hall in 1942
  • Holiday Pops started in 1973 and was first called "A Pops Christmas Party."
  • Arthur Fiedler was the first conductor to lead Holiday Pops.
  • The hall has served other types of events such as civic observances as various conventions, political meetings, commencements, inaugurations, religious worship, debates, flower shows, fashion shows, automobile shows, ball and banquets.

Event Parking at the Prudential Garage

The Holiday Pops is considered a Special Event and qualifies for discount parking. This means that the Prudential garage is the best place to park for the Holiday Pops.

The parking situation at the Prudential has recently changed to now include automatic checkout. I inquired to the Prudential parking staff on how to take advantage of the discount parking with the new changes.

This is the response I received:

I apologize for the confusion regarding your inquiry for the Symphony Hall special event rate. It has been confirmed that parking attendants will be at garage exists through the end of the year to assist with these programs. You will simply need to surrender your ticket stub upon leaving the garage to receive the reduced rate. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Make sure when you exit the garage to call over the attendant to get your parking discount. Failure to do so will result in a higher parking rate.

Prudental Garage Special Event Rate

Valid for evening and weekend events only, at Symphony Hall, Berklee, Huntington Theater, Jordan Hall
Special $18.00 Event Rate
Enter after 2:00 p.m. Mon-Fri
Enter after 7:00 a.m. Weekends
Exit by 3:00 a.m.
Customer must surrender ticket event stub at garage exit

Symphony Hall is a 5-minute walk from the Prudential Center.

December 1, 2016

Prudential Skywalk Observatory

Sky Walk Marb

One of the best views of Boston is from the 50th floor of the Prudential Building. That's where you'll find the Skywalk Observatory - Boston's only 360 city view.

Along with the amazing view of Boston are several interactive exhibits that will inform you about the history of Boston. Some of the exhibits that you'll see when you're walking around the floor:

  • Interactive Multimedia Exhibits, including a "Who wants to be an American Citizen?" Which features ten real citizenship question in a Jeopardy-type format.
  • Multimedia Theater - A state-of-the-art movie theater, which continually runs two short films: "Wings Over Boston," an up-close feel of the entire city, and "Dreams of Freedom," a multimedia journey through time.
  • Boston Immigration - Learn how immigrants came to Boston. See example items that people would pack in their crates as they made their journey to America.

Fun Facts about the Prudential SkyWalk

  • The Prudential Tower is 750 feet tall, 150 feet wide and 178 feet long.
  • The Observatory is 50 stories above ground. (740 feet)
  • It takes 30 seconds, via elevator, to get to the 50-story observation. This means the elevator is traveling 24 ft/s (feet per second)
  • When the Skywalk first opened on April 19, 1965, people waited in line up to four hours to get to the top.
  • The ticket booth in the Prudential Mall, near Dunkin Donuts, will let you know the current visibility. In addition, you can also go up to the 50th floor and see the visibility before deciding to purchase tickets.
  • When you get off of the elevator and walk to the ticket booth, the first view you see is Cambridge.
  • Mt. Wachusetts is visible from the Prudential Skywalk.
  • On a clear day, you can see the mountains of New Hampshire and far into the South Shore.
  • There is a penny souvenir machine - bring quarters and pennies if you collect Penny Souvenirs.
  • The four telescopes around the floor take 2 quarters and worth it if you would like a close up views of faraway points. There is a little step so that little ones can see through the telescope.
  • The 500,000 visitor was greeted on a ceremony on September 2, 1965 - 135 days after the SkyView opened.
  • In 1980, it cost $1.75 to access the Observatory.
  • Prudential garage can hold 3,500 automobiles.

When to Visit

Visit in the afternoon if you looking for views/pictures of Fenway Park, Metro West and Back Bay

Visit in the morning if you want good pictures of Downtown Boston. Otherwise, you may end up seeing the Prudential shadow in your pictures.

Prudential Boston
Downtown Boston from the Skywalk Observatory at 3pm on November 11, 2016.

November 24, 2016

Christmas Tree from Halifax

The Halifax Explosion occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of December 6, 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin.

The low-speed collision caused a series of chain reactions that resulted in a fast moving fire on the SS Mont-Banc. The fire caused a ignited the cargo on the SS Mont-Banc, causing a large explosion that devastated the seaport district of Halifax. Nearly 2,000 people were killed by blast and collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured.

Boston Assistance

As soon as the news hit Boston, locals scrambled to send help to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Within 24-hours after the accident, a train was loaded up with medical supplies and was sent up north. Unfortunately, a major snow storm hit and the train was delayed and didn't arrive until December 9th.

The train arrived in Halifax just in time as supplies were badly needed, in addition, the medical staff on the train was able to cover for many of those that were working since the explosion occurred.

Nova Scotia Starts a Tradition

Nine years after the incident, the city of Halifax sent a Christmas in appreciation of the support by the people of Boston. The tree was also a way to promote Christmas Tree exports from Nova Scotia. The annual gift was soon taken over by the Nova Scotia Government as a way to promote the goodwill gesture and to promote Nova Scotia to Boston.

Christmas Tree Timeline

Here's the timeline that happens every year:

  • June/July - Scouts look for the perfect tree to send to Boston. Halifax residences can submit their tree.
  • November 14th - Tree is cut down in a large tree cutting ceremony
  • November 16th - Tree leaves Halifax to Boston in a Grand Parade. (750 Miles to Boston)
  • November 21st - Tree arrives in Boston
  • December 1st - Tree lighting Ceremony at the Boston Commons.

Christmas Tree Requirements

There are certain requirements for the Christmas Tree, as not just any tree will do:

  • Attractive Balsam Fir
  • White Spruce or Red Spruce
  • 12 to 16 Meters tall (40 to 50 feet)
  • Very healthy with excellent color
  • Medium to heavy Density
  • Uniform and Symmetrical
  • Easy to Access

Halifax Christmas Tree Fun Facts

This year marks the 99th of the Halifax Explosion.

It cost Nova Scotia $250,000 (Canada) a year to send a tree to Boston.

The Nova Scotia CA story has a complete cost breakdown of the true cost of sending the tree to Boston.

Most of the Christmas trees come from the open land and not from Christmas Tree farms. Landowners that agree to give up their tree get some compensation, last year a family was paid $500.

An average Balsam Tree grows less than 12" a year. Which means that a qualified Balsam Fir would have to have been planted at least 40 years ago to be eligible for Boston.

Nova Scotia pays for the lighting ceremony in Boston.

November 17, 2016

Boston's Old City Hall

Old Boston City Hall

At the corner of Washington and State Street is Massachusetts Old State House building.

History of the Building

The building played an important part of the history of the United States. The Boston Massacre happened in front of the building on March 5, 1770. The Declaration of Independence was read for the first time in Boston to a crowd on July 18th, 1776. After the Revolution, the building was the location of the Massachusetts State government.

It served as Boston City Hall (1830 - 1841) and as a commercial building (1841-1881).

Since 1881 the building has been a museum run by the Bostonian Society.

The Queen of England gave a speech on the famous balcony on July 4, 1976.

Will Kids enjoy the Museum?

Youth (6-18) are free, so there's nothing to lose by taking them to the Old State House.

There are a couple of rooms on the second floor where my five-year daughter had some fun in.

In the "State Room" there are some puzzles to put together. Kids can try to rebuild the Old City Hall with a tall puzzle, build a wall using soft bricks and try to piece together an old photo.

In the "Old State House: A Hands-on History" room kids can draw a small picture and then hang it on the wall. There are story books to read all about Boston history at a kids size table. Kids can re-create the process of having to fix the clock.

Average time in the museum is about 45 minutes, it depends on how much you're into Boston history and if you take the tour.

Souvenir Shop

The souvenir shop has lots of goodies for kids. There are lots of colonial period items such as a feather pen and scrolls. On this trip, we picked up a large pencil since it's similar to the one she uses at school.

You do not have to go to the museum to visit the gift shop, so if your walking by the Old State House it's worth just stopping by for some unique Boston Souvenirs. Your purchase supports the museum, so it's for a good cause. (There's a good selection of Boston coffee mugs if you're looking something for the office.)

Bathroom

Parents with kids are always concern about bathrooms...

In the basement is a bathroom that was reasonably clean, you do have to purchase museum tickets to use the bathroom. It's a good pit stop if you're heading towards downtown crossing or the commons since good bathrooms are hard to find.

Personal Experience

My five-year-old daughter had a fun time learning about history at the museum. She enjoyed learning about how colonial chairs were made, sitting at the head of the table, looking at the old clothes and seeing history up close. She had a fun time with the puzzles and was excited to put up a drawing on the board with her name.

November 10, 2016

Charles Hilgenhurst Medallion

How the recent renovation at the Government Center MBTA station killed a view of a Boston landmark.

Between King Burial Grounds and Granary Burying Ground is a small medallion on the sidewalk pavement. The medallion is a bit hidden and is probably missed by many tourists walking between King Burial Grounds and Boston Commons.

Here is a picture of the medallion that is in front of the Omni Parker House:

Charles Hilgenhurst

The inscription reads:

Friend - Look Up And See The North Church Tower Where Were Shown Two Lantern Lights On The Night Of April 18, 1775, To Send Paul Revere On His Famous Ride And Begin The American Revolution. This View Preserved For All Future Generations By Charles Hilgenhurst And Colleagues Of The Boston Redevelopment Authority In The Year 1960

March 21, 2016

Today when you look up towards the King Burial Grounds, to see The North Church Tower, this is what you see:

North Church Tower

When the MBTA redesigned the Government Center back in 2014, they added a 40-foot glass structure. However, didn't take into account blocking the North Church Tower. You can still see part of the church through the glass structure, but the view is definitely blocked. At night, the glass structure is blue, which would completely prevent you from seeing the Church tower.

I wasn't able to find any information on why Charles Hilgenhurst wanted the view to be visible from the Omni Parker House. There isn't any document online or at the Boston Public Library about installing the medallion.

Locating the Marker

The medallion is located 3,580.80 feet (1091.43 meters) from the The North Church.

The medallion is located on Boylston Street, near the intersection of School Street. The GPS coordinates is: 42.357675, -71.060633