Boston blog postings

Boston Postings

Earliest: March 16, 2003Latest: November 8, 2018Total: 247

June 21, 2018

Wicked Cool WiFi

Did you know that there are various free WiFi spots around the City of Boston? Two of the most popular tourist spots are also Boston's hottest spot to do work - Boston Commons and Boston Gardens.

In 2016, The City of Boston installed free wireless access points in the Boston Public Gardens and the Public Commons. Making these a great location for laptop users to go offsite and get work done in a nice relaxed atmosphere.

The "Wicked Free Wi-Fi" map has location points to where the access points are, but just about anyplace in the Gardens/Park has Wifi access. Just make sure your laptop is charged, as there is no place to plug-in.

Boston Common Wi Fi

Additional Free WiFi Spots

There are a couple of other Wi-Fi spots around the city that make for a great escape from the office or if the office WiFi is not working correctly. If your visiting Boston, these Wifi spots are great if you want to upload photos from your phone.

Boston Public Library at Copley Square

Grab a desk and get some work done at the Boston Public Library. Is it Performance Review times? Need some getaway time from all the constant interruptions? This is the place to go. Plenty of tables and comfortable places to charge up the laptop.

The two quietest places in the Library is the Kristen Science Center and Bates Hall. Bates Hall is really an inspirational place to work - very cool architecture. However, when someone moves a chair, it can echo and be a distraction. Kristen Science Center has lots of desk with USB and plugs. The chairs are more comfortable than Bates Hall.

Prudential Center Mall

The Prudential Center Mall has free WiFi for shoppers and visitors. You can even get WiFi access in the courtyard - which is very convenient if you work in one of the office buildings in the complex.

Wifi is also available at the Starbucks inside the Barnes and Noble. Get a Venti drink and a snack and work away!

There were a couple of times where the Prudential Center Mall Wifi came in handy when the power went out in the office.

Any Other Spots?

If you work in Boston, are there any other wifi spots worth sharing? Any places that might be inspiring to check out?

June 14, 2018

Louisa May Alcott House

Many people have heard about the Alcott's Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. Did you know that the Alcott's moved around a lot? For many years the family lived in Boston.

If your walking around Beacon Hill you may encounter a sign on a house that Louisa May Alcott once lived at:

Louisa May Alcott House Boston

Fun Facts about the Boston House

  • Louisa May Alcott and her Father lived here from 1852 to 1855 (She was 20-years-old)
  • She wrote her first story here: The Rival Painters: A Tale of Rome
  • Louisa May's room was on the third floor
  • Thanks to the success of Little Women, the Alcotts was able to move to the more prosperous neighborhood of Louisburg Square.
  • The house is part of the Boston Women's Heritage Trail of Beacon Hill.

Plaque on the Building

The plaque on the building reads:

As a little girl Louisa May Alcott lived in rented rooms at 20 Pinckney Street. The Alcott house was part of the Boston literary scene during the decades before the Civil War. Louisa's father Bronson Alcott, was an innovative educator whose friends included Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Henry Channing and William Lloyd Garrison.

In the 1800s, her reputation and fortune secure, Miss Alcott returned to Beacon Hill. She lived at 10 Louisburg Square until her death.

Finding the Boston's House

The house is located at 20 Pinckney St, Boston, Massachusetts. This is a private residence, there are no tours in this location.

Best Public Transportation Route: From Park Street Station, walk up to the State House, turn left on Beacon Street, and then right onto Joy Street then take your second left onto Pinckney Street. The house will be the eighth house on your left.

June 7, 2018

Wall of Literary Awards

While Hollywood has the "Walk of Fame", to celebrate the Stars. Boston has the Wall of Literary Awards Wall to celebrate the accomplishments of local literary writers.

In Copley Square, at the Boston Public Library, is a wall of Massachusetts literary writers that have won distinguished awards in literature.

The Literary Wall concept was created as part of the major library redesigned that was completed in 2017.

The Wall

Qualifying Awards

  • Noble Prize for Literature - The Swedish Academy
  • Pulitzer Prize - The Pulitzer Prizes
  • National Book Award - National Book Foundation
  • Pen/Faulkner Award - Pen/Faulkner Foundation
  • Nebula Award - Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America
  • Edgar Award - Mystery Writers of America
  • Rita Award - Romance Writers of America

Missing Authors

While there are many distinguished authors on the wall - Edgar Allen Poe makes several appearances. There are a number of authors that are not on the wall, simply because they haven't won any of the major awards. (At least their work existed long before the awards were ever handed out)

Finding the Wall of Literary Awards

The Wall of Literary is located on the first floor of the Main Library. It's located between the Fiction section and the Cafe.

Enter the library from Boylston Street, and head over to the Cafe. Take a left before the Cafe and you'll be in the Fiction area of the Library. Walk a few steps into the Fiction area towards the staircase, and then look back towards the Cafe and you'll see the Wall.

May 31, 2018

Marvin Goody Memorial

In the Boston Public Gardens, along Charles Street, is a flagpole and several granite benches. This is a memorial to Marvin Goody.

Marvin Goodie Memorial

Who Was Marvin Goody?

This memorial is in honor of Marvin Goody, who was a former chairman of the Boston Art Commission and Friend of the Public Garden and Common, as well as an MIT faculty member.

Interesting Facts about this Memorial and Marvin Goody

  • Born in 1929 and died of a heart attack in 1980.
  • He was a well known and respected architect and worked at Goody Clancy
  • He was one of the founders of the Friends of the Public Garden
  • His Wife, Joan Goody, designed the circle memorial where the couple once walked each morning to their office to near-by Boylston Street.
  • The memorial was partly funded by the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund
  • The memorial is a circular arrangement of square stone block benches around a flagpole. (The benches are called "Pods")
  • He worked hard to keep up the Public Gardens, which is why there's a quote at the memorial which reads, "To See His Work, Look Around You"
  • There is a sycamore tree that was planted near the memorial in his memory.
  • He founded the red stones used on the Public Gardens bridge
  • He made sure that the fountains were working order and frequently checked them to make sure that water was always flowing.
  • A $5,000 annual prize in Goody's name was set up in 1983 for architecture, city planning or engineering master's students at MIT.

Interesting Facts about the Flag Pole

  • The Flagpole is one of the oldest markers in the Garden - older than the 1869 "Ether" statue.
  • The Friend of the Public Garden help design the path around the flagpole in the 1970s - during the park restoration project.
  • The Park Plaza hotel donated the American Flag, as well as funding for lighting. (By law the flag is to be illuminated since it is never lowered.)
  • Flag pole base is made of Bronze and was made in 1921.
  • Base of the flag contains the signature TF McGann & Sons - Boston MA

Home of the Future

One of Marvin Goody assignment was designing the Monsanto House of the Future. This was a project that was displayed at Disneyland in the 1960s.

"the house was envisioned as something that could be quickly and inexpensively constructed on nearly any terrain and could withstand most any force of nature" - Disney

Watch this Disney video about the home of the future:

May 24, 2018

Boston Chinatown Gate

Boston's Chinatown is the third largest in the United States, and just as most are, there is a decorative gate at its entrance.

The Chinatown Gate was offered by the Taiwanese government to the City. The gate is engraved with two writings in Chinese: Tian Xia Wei Gong, a saying attributed to Sun Yat-sen that translates as "everything under the sky is for the people", and Li Yi Lian Chi, the four societal bonds of propriety, justice, integrity and honor.

Outside The Gate

Fun Facts about Boston Chinatown Gate

In 1974, China gave the Gate to the City of Boston as the gift for the United States Centennial Celebration.

It took seven years to figure out how to pay for the installation. In 1975, the City of Boston created the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund to direct spending on various city art projects.

Ground breaking was on June 7, 1981.

When the gate was placed, the entrance onto Beach Street was closed off from car traffic. This was to reduce the congestion from the Expressway into Chinatown. The street was re-open during the construction of the Big Dig, which caused issues with trucks knocking down the lions.

There is a lion, otherwise known as Foo Dogs, on both sides of the Arch - each weighing a ton.

The Chinatown Gate Arch is 30-feet high

The words on top of the gate mean, "A World Shared By All" - It's the same phrase that's on the Chicago Chinatown Gate and the Chinatown Gate in San Francisco. In Chicago, the translation is "The World Belongs to the Commonwealth." This was a common saying in the early 1900s.

Rededicated October 1990

Taipei, Capital of Taiwan, is Boston Sister city since 1996.

The Chinatown Gate installation was officially funded by the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund.

Foo Dogs Controversy

At one time there were four Foo Dogs in front of the Chinatown gate.

During the construction of the Big Dig, sometime between 1991 and 2007, the Foo statues, were replaced with replicas.

Two of the originals were placed in a private home in Lexington. The home was owned by Paul Pedini, a former vice president of Modern Continental. The other two were placed in front of the Kowloon restaurant in Saugus.

Paul Pedini claimed that the original Foo dogs were not needed anymore and initial plans indicated that they were going to be destroyed because they were damaged. He had two of them placed in the rooftop garden of a 2.2 million dollar home he was building in Lexington.

Once public, via a Boston Herald story, the City of Boston has asked for all the Foo Dogs to be returned.

Paul Pedini returned the two statues. Kowloon has declined to return there's saying that it was a gift by the Chinatown elders.

The statues in front of the gate are still the replicas. The city hasn't decided what to do with the originals that they have. There has been some suggestion to place them in the Boston's Mount Hope Cemetery.

The replicas cost the city $4,800 each. The original ones were part of the entire gate package estimated to cost between $400,000 to $500,000.

Getting to Chinatown Gate

Chinatown Gate is located at the intersection of Beach Street and Hudson Street. The best way to get there is to take the Red Line to South Station and walk to Beach Street.

May 17, 2018

Royal Coat of Arms

In the Massachusetts Old State House are various exhibits where visitors can learn a lot about the City of Boston.

Royal Coat of Arms in the Council Chamber

In the Council Chamber Room, is where the Royal Governor of Massachusetts met with members of his Council. It was where key decisions were made before the American Revolution.

One artifact that people may miss is the Royal Coat of Arms above the door as you enter the room. This is a copy of the lion and unicorn heraldic crest - as it would appear in the chamber room. If you want to see an older version, walk down the stairs to the Keayne Hall. If you want to see the original one - head to New Brunswick Canada.

Coat of Arms Boston

Four Fun Facts about the Royal Coat of Arms

  • One of the original Coat of Arms was taken from Boston in 1775 and now appears over the doorway of the Trinity Episcopal Church, St. John New Brunswick. It was removed by the Revolutionaries to protect it from being damaged. It was brought to Halifax by Edward Winslow. Several requests have been made to return the Coat of Arms back to Boston but have been denied by the church.
  • On the USS Constitution are some guns with the British Royal Coat of Arms.
  • The Lion and Unicorn on the roof of the Old Massachusetts Statehouse are the same used in the Coat of Arms, a simple reminder of the past. The original Lion and Unicorn were burned in 1776. The ones currently on display were placed in 1882.
  • The Royal Coat of Arms was once placed on the building at 17 Market Place. (Next to Faneuil Hall)

Sign next to the Coat of Arms in the Keayne Hall

A symbol of royal authority, this royal arms hung over the doorway of the Province House, the Governor's residence.

Boston, 18th century
Carved and painted wood

May 10, 2018

The Colby Trophy Room

The Colby Trophy Room at the Boston Museum of Science is a unique room where you can view many prize animal mounts. The room is a replica of Colonel Franc is Colby Trophy Room in Hamilton, Massachusetts.

The room gives visitors a chance to see what the hunting life was like in the late 19th century

Colby Africa Rino

Ten Interesting Things about the Colby Trophy Room

  • Colonel Francis T. Colby was a soldier, diplomat, and a big-game hunter.
  • He died on July 30, 1953, and gave the museum $700,000 to build a replica of his trophy room. (At the time it was known as the Boston Society of Natural History.)
  • If the Boston Museum of Science had not accepted the donation it would have gone to the Boone and Crockett Club of New York.
  • The original room was smaller than the one at the museum - it was 20 by 40 feet. Clearly, the room in the museum is much bigger - in fact, it's about twice the size of the original room.
  • He lived in Hamilton, Massachusetts and a house in Nairobi where he frequently visited.
  • He shared various stories of the animals displayed in the room when people came to visit him. He never wrote them down - they might have made a great book. Many big-name visitors, with similar taste, would visit his house to see his well-decorated trophy room. Ernest Hemingway, Holt Collier, and other big-name game hunters visited the original trophy room.
  • In the middle of the room, is a six-feet-long plaster cast model of an Indian rhino by notable Katherine W. Lane.
  • In the original Museum designs, the room was to be placed on the third floor.
  • Some of the Spears along with the side of the room still has poison on the tip.
  • The museum recognized the large contribution that Colonel Francis Colby and name an annual award after him. The Francis Colby Award has bestowed annually on members of the Museum of Science family who have made extraordinary contributions of time, treasure, and talent to the Museum

May 3, 2018

Winthrop-Carter Building

At 7 Water Street is the Winthrop-Carter building Boston's first steel skyscraper. The Boston Landmark Commission calls it a "fine example of Second Renaissance Revival style."

The Winthrop-Carter Building is a 9-story steel frame building with steel external alls and brick terra cotta covering.

Winthrop Building

Nine Interesting things about the Winthrop-Carter Building

  • This was near the location of the John Winthrop home. John Winthrop was Boston's first Colonial Governor.
  • Current structure was created in 1893 at the request of the landowner - Timothy Harrington Carter. Clarence Blackall was the architect.
  • When the original designs were presented to the city for permits they didn't propose a steel frame, instead they proposed a seven-story brick building. However, the City complicated things by reducing the property size by widen Washington Street and straighten Water Street. Clarence Blackall had to go "back to the drawing board" to come up with a better solution.
  • When completed the building was assessed for $672,000. Today the building is assessed for $4,038,500
  • The Building was called Carter Building until 1899 when it was renamed Winthrop-Carter Building.
  • This wasn't the site of the Winthrop house, instead, this was the site of the Great Spring, which would have been next door to the Winthrop house.
  • The Great Spring was one of the main sources of fresh water for Boston. The Spring has not been visible since 1702.
  • The Devonshire Street Subway entrance is on the Winthrop-Carter property. It was put in 1903 - ten years after the building was completed.
  • Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December 1973, it took the City of Boston 43 years to designate the building as a Boston Landmark. (There are no signs around the building indicating that it's a Boston Landmark or on the National Register of Historic Places.)

Some Observations

When looking at the building, look at the Terra Cotta detail on the third and fourth floors. Also look at the stained glass on the Water Street side.

One thing I notice when walking down Spring Lane - it felt like a movie studio backlot. Just the small space and the window fire exits on the building.

Sign On the Building

Built in 1893, this was the first steel frame "skyscraper" constructed in Boston. It was the work of innovated local architect Clarence Blackall, who modeled this building on the early still commercial structures of Chicago. The office building received unprecedented attention in Boston, praised for its technological achievement and also for its graceful curved design and facade of colored brick and terra cotta. Originally built for businessman C. H. Cater, the structure was renamed in 1899 to recognize the location on the site of the home of the city's first colonial governor, John Winthrop.

Location of the Building

The Winthrop-Carter building is located near downtown crossing. It's located at the corner of Water Street and Washington Street - directly across the street from the Old Corner Bookstore.

April 26, 2018

World War II Memorial in Boston

Many people may not know that Boston has a rather large memorial for Bostonians that fought and died in World War II. The memorial is located in the Fenway area and called the George Robert White Veterans Memorial Park.

Did you Know: Massachusetts has 8 Memorials/Monuments to those that died in World War II and 20 Memorials/Monuments for those that died in World War I. (Source: MassVacations.com)

The Boston memorial is a large eclipse formed by granite structures, and include a winged figure in the center. Around the monument are seats which can accommodate an audience size of 500 people.

W W2 Memorial2

Thirteen Things interesting things I learned about the World War II Memorial

  1. Dedicated on October 30, 1949 (1,520 days after the official end of World War II)
  2. The memorial was Sculptor by John Francis Paramino and Tito Cascieri was the primary Architect
  3. The memorial was funded by a grant from the George Robert White Fund. (George Robert White was Boston's primary philanthropists.)
  4. In the center of the memorial is a "Winged Victory" statue that is 12-feet high. The statue was done by T.F. McGann & Sons Co. FDY of Somerville, Mass. You can see the artist inscription/signature on the bottom left of the statue.
  5. Behind the "Winged Victory" statue is a granite diamond-shape shaft of 22-feet and contain 48 stars. (Hawaii and Alaska didn't become a state yet)
  6. The names of 3,000 war dead are mounted in bronze behind the diamond-shape shaft.
  7. In The Memorial is named for U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary - He was honored with a bronze plaque on the lectern which was added during a special dedication ceremony.
  8. Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary was the only Medal of Honor, the only World War II vet from Boston to return alive with one. He died in 2000.
  9. The Korea and Vietnam Memorials were added in 1989 which were paid from a grant from the George Robert White Fund ($650,000)
  10. Above the names of the those that died it reads, "In memory of the men and women of Boston who lost their lives in World War II"
  11. Around the lectern stage is the phrase, "1949 From the Income of the George Robert White Fund"
  12. James W Sugden and Stanton H. Kelly are the only names added to the memorial since it was created in 1949.
  13. In 1946, James Michael Curley suggest that planting 2,400 trees in the Fenway would be a good tribute to the fallen. He suggested a shrine in the middle for religious services.

U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary

Apparently there is a slight misprint on the bronze plaque on the lectern. I notice that U.S. Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary is misspelled.

Check out the difference between his gravestone and the plaque on the memorial:

Mac Gillivary

What do you think? Is MacGillivary spelled correctly?

Finding the World War II Memorial

To find George Robert White Veterans Memorial Park, you can enter the Back Bay Fens from the south at the intersection of the Fenway and Forsyth Way just east of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Cross over the Agassiz Bridge and bear right when the path forks. A path leads to it on the right. (You'll see the memorial when you cross Fenway Parkway.)

April 19, 2018

Quaker Lane

Quaker Lane is one of the few streets in Boston that is U-shape. For a 100 years, it was center of the Quaker Cemetary

Quaker Lane

Eight Things I learned About Quaker Lane

  • Quaker Lane is called it because at one time it was the location of the Quaker Meeting House and Cemetery in downtown Boston.
  • The Quakers built a meeting house on Quaker Lane in 1708. The Church was severely damaged by the Great Boston fire in 1760. (The Great Boston fire of 1760 destroyed 349 building in downtown Boston)
  • The Quaker rebuilt the Meeting House and continued to worship there until 1808 when membership had declined and they decided to sell the property.
  • In 1826, the remaining members thought it was best to move the Quaker cemetery to Lynn where the Quaker society was thriving.
  • 109 bodies were moved to Lynn. Two bodies, who were sisters, were kept in Boston and reburied at the cemetery at King Chapel. (Mr. Joseph Hussey)
  • It wasn't until the 1930s that it became Quaker Lane - it has always been known as Congress Square. Paul Townsend put in a request to rename Congress Square to Quaker Lane. It officially became Quaker Lane on February 19, 1930.
  • Today Quaker Lane is closed due to construction. For many years it was an ugly service ally behind many historic buildings in the area. The new owners of the building are working to clean up Quaker Lane and make it an inviting venue with restaurants and festive lighting. The street will be closed to vehicle traffic.
  • Boston Landmarks Commission is currently consider it as a designation as a City landmark.

Locating Quaker Lane

Quaker Lane is located just a few steps from the Old State House.

The Quaker Lane Map
Map of the Area around Quaker Lane.