Boston blog postings

Boston Postings

Earliest: March 16, 2003Latest: December 14, 2017Total: 201

July 27, 2017

Copley Outbound T Exit

If you're taking the Green Line from Park Street to Copley Square you end up exiting up the street at a different location than the inbound trains. The outbound trains end up under the intersection of Boylston Street and Dartmouth Street. The inbound train ends up near the Boston Public Library Main Entrance.

What?s tricky is that as you walk through the terminal, there?s no clear indicator on where you appear at street level. This is important because you don?t want to exit to street level and then find that you have to cross the street because you came out of the wrong door.

The exit are separated by Dartmouth Street, and the exits are on opposite sides of the street.

Check out this picture:

Coply Exit
There are no signs to indicate where the exits will take you!

Helpful Tip!

You should go left if you want to go to the Boston Public Library, visit the Boston Marathon Finish Line, Apple Store or the Old South Church. Exit right if you want to go to Copley Square, Trinity Church and CVS.

Perhaps someday the MBTA will put up a sign to help people navigate out of the station properly.

Note: Some people may think this is a silly blog post. But it can be frustrating when you arrive at the station and have no clue on which exit to take.

July 20, 2017

Boston Public Library Bronze Doors

When you enter the Boston Public Library from Copley square you may not have paid attention to the Bronze doors that you walk through.

These doors were created by Daniel Chester French in 1897, about 20 years before he did the Abraham Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial.

BPLDoors_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

Five Things that I learned about the doors

  • Each door weighs 1500 pounds.
  • Daniel Chester French was chosen to create the doors by Charles Follen McKim, the Boston Public Library main architect since they worked on eight other projects together.
  • The figures on the doors represent Music and Poetry, Knowledge and Wisdom, and Truth and Romance.
  • The Center door, Knowlege and Wisdom, is the one that is always open.
  • The door sayings are written in old Latin, Old Latin used V for capitals and U for lower case.

It took a while for each door panel to be completed:

  • 1897 - Truth and Romance (Right)
  • 1898 - Knowledge and Wisdom (Center)
  • 1902 - Music and Poetry (Left)

Door Sayings

SVCG Sweet Compulsion Does in Music Lie To Lull the Daughters of Necessity and Keep Unsteady Nature to Her Law
True Poetry is Like the Loadstone Which Both Attracts the Needle and Supplies it With Magnetic Power

There is in Wisdom a spirit subtil, clear in utterance, loving what is good, pure, stedfast.
By Knowledge Shall, the Chambers Be Filled with all Precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:4)

Truth is The Strength and The Kingdom and The Power and the Majesty of all Ages A Romance to Rede and Drive the Night Away from me thought it Better Play than Either at Chesse or Tables

July 13, 2017

Bova's Bakery

Most people that visit the North End usually end up eating dessert at Mike's Pastry or Modern Pastry. Both places are extremely popular and quite often you'll find long lines that overflow onto Hanover Street.

Next time you're in the North End and want a dessert to treat to try - Bova's Bakery. It's usually a lot less crowded and pretty much has the same food selection.

Bova's Bakery is a Family-owned bake shop, opened in 1932, offering up delicious loaves of bread, cookies & sandwiches 24 hours a day.

Description from their website:

Visit us and celebrate a family history made around the oven. North Enders will tell you, there's nothing quite so comforting as walking home in the early morning with a warm loaf of bread carefully cradled in the crook of your arm. Once home, you sit down at the kitchen table, sneak the butter from the fridge, and open a jar of jam. With mounting anticipation, you prepare for a delicious breakfast.

Photos

BovasBakeryOutsidesm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

Bovas Inside
Not always crowded like some of the popular bakeries on Hanover Street.

Misc Bova's Bakery Info

Anthony Martignetti, of the Prince Spaghetti Boy commercial from the 1970s, worked at Bova's Bakery at night

You can see Bova"s Bakery in the Fever Pitch Movie. The main character lived right upstairs.

Food Selection

I have found that they have a better selection of desserts than Mikes Pastry. I have enjoyed their homemade Italian cookies and fig bars.

I don't have a go-to item, I just browse around and see what looks good.

Bova`s Bakery has sandwiches and pizza too, which I keep thinking of having but the desert treats are a meal in themselves.

The Whoopie Pie is really good, kids will enjoy the character versions such as Cookie Monster.

Hours

Always Open - Open 24 hours!

According to Google, the most popular time is between 6 and 9, but the bakery does appear to get considerable amount of late night traffic.

Popular Times

Location

Bova's Bakery, located at the intersection of Prince Street and Salem Street. The Street address for Google/GPS is 134 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113

It's a quick 10-minute drive from Logan Airport via Taxi. Which is good to know if you have some layover time and want to grab some great Italian food.

July 6, 2017

Boston Museum of Science Notables

The Boston Museum of Science has a lot of fun and interesting exhibits. Many of them are interactive which makes it fun to learn.

With all various exhibits to see, there are a few which you may miss. Here are a couple that I think are pretty interesting :

Dinosaur Coprolite

Boston Coprolite

Have you ever touched Dinosaur Poop? Well you can at the Boston Museum of Science.

My six-year-old daughter always gets a kick out of the Dinosaur poop. We joke about it as we drive to the museum:

Poop Conversation

The "poop" is several million years old and is just a fossil remain. So touching it is just like touching any rock.

There is a sign next to fossilized remain to let you know what it is:

The photograph below is a magnified slice from the coprolite, fossilized dinosaur "poop". From the evidence, we can figure out the coprolite is from a plant-eating dinosaur that lived during the Jurassic period. You can observe the cell structure from some of the indigested plant material.

Every time we go she feels that she has to take a picture of me touching the poop.

You can find the Dinosaur poop along the back wall in the Dinosaur Area on the first floor,

Giant Sequoia Tree

Giant Sequoia

There is a large tree cross-section in the main exhibit area. This was once part of a 2000+-year-old tree.

There is a sign in front of the cross-section of the tree:

The cross-section is from a Giant Sequoia that was cut down in 1950 in Sequoia National Park, CA after being badly damaged. It was 240 feet tall and 2044 years old. The gap on the upper right was caused by a fire hundreds of years ago. Sequoias are well-adapted to withstand fire: they are covered by a thick, fibrous bark that has very little flammable resin. The tree survived and kept growing as the two sides curved around to protect the exposed wood.

Imagine all the winter storms and droughts that the tree had to live through over the past couple of centuries.

There are 9 points on the Giant Sequoia Tree that the museum highlights. You can press a button to see the year on the tree ring:

  • 95 BCE - Tree started to grow
  • 1 CE - The start of the Gregorian Calendar
  • 476 - End of the Roman Empire
  • 1000 - Leif Ericsson arrived in North America
  • 1495 - Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper
  • 1610 - Galileo discovered moons around Jupiter
  • 1775 - Industrial Revolution begins in Britain
  • 1833 - Giant Sequoia discovered by Europeans
  • 1940 - Research into the technology to develop the Nuclear bomb.

The Giant Sequoia is one of Michael Bloomberg favorite exhibits at the museum. Last year he donated $50 million to the Boston Science Museum.

Locating the Giant Sequoia

It's not hard to miss the Giant Sequoia tree, its located in the main hall between the bathrooms and the back staircase.

Did you know: If you're interested in starting your own giant sequoia tree, you can purchase a starter kit in the museum gift shop. Just ask someone in the store if you need help finding it.

June 29, 2017

Senator Charles Sumner Statue

In the Boston Public Gardens, along Boylston Street, are four bronze statues on granite pedestals that have stood as a group for more than eighty years.

The first statue to be placed on this path is simply labeled, 'Sumner.' This is a statue of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner.

Today's post is about Senator Charles Sumner.

Charles Sumner Statue

Five things that I learned about the Charles Sumner Statue

  • Statue was unveiled on December 23, 1878 (4 years, 9 months, 13 days after Charles Sumner died)
  • The face of the statue is faccing towards the Four Season Hotel on Boylston Street.
  • There is a small inscription "Tomas Bell Sc. 1877" near the right foot. (This is a typical artist signature)
  • There are No quotes or Inscriptions on the granite other than the last name on the Statue.
  • Charles Sumner is holding a scroll - which I assume characterize his devotion to his work in the Senate.
  • There are three lights around the statue, two in the front and one in the back. So the status will be visible at night.

Ten General Information Facts about Charles Sumner

  • Born in Boston on January 6, 1811 and lived on Irving Street on Beacon Hill
  • Attended Boston Latin School and graduated Harvard in 1830
  • Republican Senator from Massachusetts from April 24, 1851 to March 11, 1874
  • Had strong anti-slavery views.
  • On May 22, 1856, He was attacked with a cane in the Senate by Preston Brooks after Charles Sumner suggested that Kansas should enter the Union as a free state.
  • Introduced the the 13th Amendment to the Senate in 1864
  • Fought hard for the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, when the Senate Acquitted Johnson, Charles Sumner wanted to try again.
  • Died in Washington DC on March 11, 1874 (Age 63)
  • Buried at Mount Ardburn Cemetery
  • Papers of Charles Sumner can be found in Microfilm in the Boston Public Library in Copley Square

Controversy over the Charles Sumner Statue

In 1876, the Boston Art Committee put out a formal notice that they were looking for a statue design for Charles Sumner to be placed in the Boston Public Gardens. They held a contest at the Old State House with several prominent designers showcasing their statue idea.

After much consideration, the committee picked the design done by Anne Whitney in a blind competition. However, when she went to collect her reward they rejected the design since the sculptor was a woman. The committee didn't like the idea of women designing a man's leg.

The committee then selected Thomas Ball designed instead. (Anne Whitney still kept the prize money.)

In 1902, the version of the statue Anne Whitney's created was placed in a small park across from Harvard University in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Anne Whitney got the last laugh as her version of Charles Sumner statue is seen far more than Thomas Ball version.

Fighting for Civil Rights

Charles Sumner fought hard for Civil Rights. One of the last bills he introduced to the Senate was a civil rights bill to guarantee to all citizens, regardless of color, "equal and impartial enjoyment of any accommodation, advantage, facility, or privilege." On his death bed he asked Frederick Douglas - "Don't let the bill fail!" and "You must take care of [my] civil-rights bill."

The Civil Right Act of 1865 passed on March 1, 1865, almost a year to the day that Charles Sumner died. The act was also known as the Butler-Sumner Act.

However, seven years later the Supreme Court threw out the Civil Rights Act of 1875 in four rulings: United States v. Stanley; United States v. Ryan; United States v. Nichols; United States v. Singleton; Robinson et ux. v. Memphis & Charleston R.R. Co.

It would be another 80 years before Congress could pass a civil rights act.

East Boston Sumner Tunnel

The tunnel between East Boston and Boston is called the Sumner Tunnel. However, it's named after William H. Sumner and not Charles Sumner.

William H. Sumner was responsible for building up East Boston, that's why the Tunnel is named after him. Charles Sumner had nothing to do with East Boston.

Both men did live around the same time, but they are not related.

Locating The Statue

The statue is located in the Boston Public Gardens along Boylston Street.

At the corner of Arlington and Boylston take the right most path in the Public Gardens. It will be the first statue on your left.

Tip: You can get some nice pictures of the Swan Boats from this location.

June 25, 2017

Red Bear on David Ortiz Bridge

This summer, as you walk to Fenway Park from Kenmore Square, if you look down on the sidewalk you may see a strange red character:

Red Dancing Bear

This has nothing to do with the Boston Red Sox, it?s actually the Grateful Dead Dancing Bear. Apparently, a fan painted it on the sidewalk.

The Dancing Bear is as much a part of the Grateful Dead experience as the Steal Your Face logo or the Skull and Roses design. Artist Bob Thomas' Dancing Bear is on just about every Grateful Dead T-Shirt.

Fenway Park Summer Concert Series

Fenway Park has a very busy summer, aside from the usual baseball fun.

  • June 17,18 Dead & Company
  • July 8 - New Kids On The Block With Paula Abdul & Boyz II Men
  • August 11 - James Taylor with with special guest Bonnie Raitt
  • August 30 - Billy Joel
  • September 1, 2 - Lady Gaga

June 22, 2017

Elm Trees at the Shaw Memorial

Have you ever walked around in the Boston Commons near the Park Street station and looked over at the State House building. Have you wondered why you can't see the State House building? In the summer you can only see the top of the gold dome.

What are those ugly trees there? Why don't they just cut them down and let everyone see the beautiful State House building?

State House Trees

Oldest Elms Trees on the Commons

Those ugly trees are confirmed to be the Oldest Elms trees in the Northeast.

In 1780 John Hancock sought permission to plant trees in the park across his residence on Beacon Hill. The city of Boston agreed with his request

Yes, that John Hancock. The first person to sign the Declaration of Independence and who later became the first governor of Massachusetts. Not to mention that he played a critical role in the revolutionary war. He planted those trees that you see at the Shaw Memorial.

Tree experts estimated that they were planted sometime between 1772 and 1812. I believe that the trees were planted someplace else and then transported to the Boston Gardens in 1780.

This year the set of trees will be at least 237 years old.

Elm Shaw

Great Elm of the Boston Commons vs The Elm at the Shaw Memorial

Last year I wrote about the famous Great Elms of the Boston Gardens. Nobody knows exactly when that tree was planted, and by whom. (Some say it was planted by Capt. Daniel Henchman in 1670)

When the Great Elm of the Boston Commons came down in 1875 it was estimated to be about 206 years old.

The Shaws Memorial Elms is currently at least 237 years old. (Based on being planted on 1780 ) This makes it the oldest Elm on the Boston Commons.

This means that the Oldest tree in the Boston Commons is the set of Elm Trees around the Shaw Memorial.

While researching about the trees in the Commons and Gardens, I did learn that there is another tree that is older in the Public Gardens. Public Gardens officials have not disclosed which tree it is so that no harm will come to that tree.

Elm Trees are in a Music Sheet from 1830

In a Illustrated music sheet cover from 1830, you can see the three Elm Trees right in front of the State House. This was done about 50 years after the trees were planted.

You can see the small trees growing up in front of the State House.

1830 Music Sheet

Special Care

Since the 1970s these trees have received the VIP treatment. The special tree experts check out the trees every couple of weeks and make sure that they are doing well.

Bricks were placed in one of the trees to keep the tree stable and to prevent any damage to the inside of the tree.

There was concern about the trees when the Shaw Memorial was built in xxx. The memorial has actually helped prolong the tree's life by protecting the tree from tree diseases that have killed many Elm trees in the Public Gardens.

Check Out the Trees

Summer Winter
View of the trees from Park Street Station in the Winter and the Summer.

The trees are located on Beacon Street directly across the Massachusetts State House.

June 15, 2017

Fan Pier Park

Fan Pier

Boston Fan Pier Park

One of the most popular photo spots in Boston is the buildings along the waterfront with the harbor in front. People take this photo from Boston Fan Pier in the Seaport District. It's a nice place to get a harbor side view of the city skyline.

The Boston Harbor Association describes Fan Pier:

From the HarborWalk on the Fan Pier, visitors can enjoy one of the best panoramas of the city, with unobstructed views of downtown to East Boston and the Harbor Islands.

Things I Learned about the Boston Fan Pier Park Area

  • Fan Pier first earn its name in 1903 - That's when the New York, New Haven rail lines "fan out" at the end of the line. (There were multiple tracks at the end of the line that was spread out like a fan.)
  • By the 1930s the tracks were removed as fishing became more important use of the land.
  • More land in the South Boston was filled in the 1950s.
  • The United States Courthouse was built here in 1998. It was built so that the rotunda would look like a lighthouse.
  • The original estimated construction cost was $184 million (1991). By 1993, the Court House construction project was estimated to be $223 million. It actually cost $170 million upon completion. (Unsure how that happened)
  • There is silhouette cut out of ships that use to be in the harbor. These make great photo opportunities. (Try to take a picture so that it looks like the ships are still in the harbor.)
  • As you continue to walk down the Fan Pier Park you'll encounter a sign on the sidewalk to inform you where the Edge of Pier 1 was in 1878. (18 78 Historic Edge of Pier 1)

Things I learned about the HarborWalk

Harborwalk, the area in front of Fan Pier Park, was inaugurated on July 4, 1982.

  • The goal of Harborwalk was to illustrate all the things that you can do along the Harbor.
  • The Harborwalk is highlighted with a dotted blue line. (It's modeled after the Freedom Trail.)
  • Harborwalk starts at the Old State House where you can get a guide for free.
  • You can also pick up the self-guide walking guide at the Bostix, Boston Common Information booth.
  • The Harborwalk is a fifty miles of waterfront - from Boston to Milton.

Directions to Fan Pier

The easiest way to get to the Fan Pier is to take the Silver Line to the Courthouse stop.

Once you get up to the street level, head towards Boston (walk with the direction of the car traffic). You will see a lot of tall buildings in the distance.

At the first light take a left towards a brick building (That's John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse)

At the end of the road, take a left towards a couple of old bridges, this is the Old Northern Ave Bridge.

Then take a right and walk along the Boston Harbor. This is the Harborwalk.

As you continue to walk, you'll see a sign that welcomes you to the Fan Pier Park.

June 8, 2017

Caryatids

Recently, 116 Huntington Ave updated the sideway. In the process, the plaque about the figurines on the building was removed.

Here's a copy of the plaque that I took back in 2011:

Side Walk Sign

Plaque text, from my 2011 blog post:

The CARYATIDS that support the arch over the large
oculus of this building were designed by Boston Artist,
Syma. The figures reference the original sculpted 
Caryatids who supported the pediment of the Temple of 
Diana in ancient Greece. Diana was the Greek 
Goddess of dance and dreams. Seven stars adorn each 
panel, a reference to the Pleiades, which, according to 
Greek Mythology, were the seven Caryatids or 
Princess of Diana who were places among the stars by
 Zeus. Each of the stars has six points, a 
traditional symbol of harmony and transformation. 
The waves underfoot recall 19th century Back Bay,
once covered with water.

This is what the Caryatids look like on the building:

Angels Building Top

You can see the Caryatids walking on the Huntington Ave Pedestrian over path. Which is located between the Prudential Mall and the Copley Square Mall.

June 1, 2017

Boylston Street Fishweir

Long before the English had settled in Boston, the Indians were fishing off Boston Commons.

About 3,000 years ago the area known as the Boston Commons was waterfront property.

Boston Neck 1623
Boston in the Early Days.

Fishweir

Indians use to fish right around the Boston Commons and much of Back Bay. They would build Fishweirs to trap fish as they swam with the tides.

A fishweir is a dam or "fence" on stakes set in a stream or waterway to trap fish.

First Major Site - Boylston Street station (1913)

Fishweirs were first discovered in 1913 during the construction of the Boylston street subway system. Construction workers didn't know what they encountered and inadvertently destroyed many valuable stakes. Some were saved and were discovered to be about 2,000 years old.

This fishweir location is commonly called the "Boylston Street Fishweir."

Second Major Site - New England Mutual Life Insurance Company (1939)

Fishweirs were also discovered at 500 Boylston Street in August 1939, when setting up the foundation for the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company. Scientists have calculated that they go back to 1700 B.C.

Hand-sharpened stakes, roughly about 5 feet in length and about an inch in diameter were found in the clay. The Robert S. Peabody Foundation discovered 65,000 stakes in the two-acres location.

The Archaeology of Philips Academy in Andover, Mass discovered that there were seventeen different types of wood use. Including Sassafras and Sycamore. Scientists were able to figure out that the wood was cut between the middle of April and the middle of June.

Third Major Site - John Hancock Building (1946)

During construction of the tower, several vertical wood stakes were discovered. Scientists were able to slowly map out a pattern of how the fishweirs might have been used. The weirs were built to trap certain type of spawning fish in shallow water tidal areas.

Some experts say that the Back Bay is loaded with ancient Fishweirs buried deep - many at least 3000 years old. The clay has helped preserve the wood that was used. Scientists have been studying the wood to learn about the fishing habits of Indians.

Every time a new building is constructed, a team of experts checks out the soil for any signs of Fishweir.

17th Century Factoid

While the Indian's were capturing fish, in what would be the future location of the city of Boston, the last Wooly Mammoth we still walking around in Russia.

Arlington Street T Station

There is an artwork panel at the platform level. The diorama panel explains how the ancient Boylston Street Fishweir worked. You can learn a little bit of local history while waiting for the next train.

Location the original Wooden Stakes

According to my research the original wooden stakes found in the 1913, 1939 and 1946 sites are kept in the The Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology. They are kept out of public viewing.

Bos Fish Weir

Ancient Fishweir Project

Every spring students at the Boston public school take a field trip to the Boston Commons and spend a day building a replica of the Fishweirs in the Boston Commons.

Students learn about the Fishweirs and some of the cultures from Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers. Some Information about the annual event:

The Ancient Fishweir Project combines public art, educational programs, and community events in celebration of the contemporary Native American community.

3,700 to 5,300 years ago, near what is now Boston Common, Fishweirs were built along the tidal flats to catch fish during the spring spawn.

The Fishweir Project's annual building of a Fishweirs on Boston Common brings this ancient activity into the current imagination, expanding the time frame of history told in Boston, and honoring the people who lived in the place we now call Boston.

Learn more about the fishweir at the TEDcBeaconStreet Ted Talk.

Viewing the Fishweirs

The final results of the kid's work are on display at the Charles Street entrance to the Boston Commons. (Near the Baseball Field)