Boston blog postings

Boston Postings

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

September 7, 2017

Harriet Tubman Park

Born a slave, Harriett Tubman (1822 - March 10, 1913) became a famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom.

At the age of 28, she escaped slavery in Maryland when her master died. She spent the rest of her life helping other escape to the North and be free.

She died poor on March 10, 1913 in Auburn, New York.

Harriet Tubman never lived in Boston. She visited the city many times to recruit people to help with the Underground Railroad. She frequently stayed at the Lewis and Harriet Hayden House at 66 Phillips Street.

Harriet Square 2017

Ten Things that I learned about the Harriet Tubman Square

  • Opened on June 15,1999 (86 years after her death)
  • The square is only 8,712 square-feet. The sculpture is 10-foot-high and 7-foot-wide titled "Step on Board"
  • According to the Boston Art association this is the first statue in Boston property to be honoring a women. Some people may think that the Mary Dyer statue is the first but thats on State House property.
  • Created by Fern Cunningham, a local sculpture.
  • The Harriet Tubman statue is showing her leading others to freedom with the bible under her arms. Fern Cunningham put her father's face on one of the runaway slaves.
  • There are two monuments in Harriet Square. The Harriet Tubman statue is at the xxx. The Emancipation statue is in the center of the square.
  • The Emancipation statue was created in 1913 Emancipation by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968).
  • The Emancipation statue was once in Park Square. It was recast and placed in the Harriett Tubman park.
  • On the ground around the Harriet Tubman Statue are pavers created by children in Brookline and the South End. These pavers represent quilts designs that were hung in the windows as a secret message to those going on the Underground Railroad.
  • The Harriet Tubman House, a settlement house for black women who had migrated from the South, is nearby at 566 Columbus Ave.

Only Outdoor Monument to Herriet Tubman?

There is a Harriet Tubman statue in New York city it was put up on November, 13, 2008. In 2016, there was a movement to put one in the Capital building in Washington DC.

Did you know that in 2015 Harriet Tubman was the "People's Choice" to be the next face on the $20 bill. She would replace Andrew Jackson. The last time the face on the $20 bill was changed was in the 1920s when Jackson replaced Grover Cleveland.

20 Dollars
Sample design someone created

If she does replace Andrew Jackson, it could bring more attention to the Harriet Tubman Square.

In 1978, The United States Post Office included Harriet Tubman in their Black Heritage stamp Series.

Some Quotes attributed to Harriet Tubman

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
-- Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist
"There are two things that I got a right to, and those are death or liberty. One or another I mean to have, No one will take me back alive."
-- Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist quote on the back side of the monument.
"Tell my brothers to be always watching into prayer, and when the good old ship of Zion comes along to be ready to step aboard."
-- Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist quote on the back side of the monument.

August 31, 2017

Boston Public Gardens Foot Bridge

The Boston Garden Footbridge is a small bridge that allows pedestrians a quick way to cross the lagoon at the center of the Boston Public Gardens.

Foot Bridge

Ten things that I learned about the Public Garden Footbridge

  • Created by Clemens Herschel and William G. Preston. Opened on June 1, 1867
  • Clemens Herschel (March 23, 1842 - March 1, 1930) was an American hydraulic engineer. He is most famous for the Venturi meter which was the first large-scale, accurate device for measuring water flow.
  • William G. Preston ( September 29, 1842 - March 26, 1910) was an American architect who also designed the building at 234 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA.
  • Was once the world's shortest functioning suspension bridge before its conversion to a girder bridge in 1921. Its original suspension system is now merely a bridge decoration.
  • Part of the Haffenreffer Walk - Named after a Jamaica Plain Beer baron Theodore H. Haffenreffer (l880-1956). The name of the walk was made popular by Gov John Hynes in the 1950s.
  • Official registered on the National Register of Historic Places on February 27, 1987.
  • Sometimes called the Lagoon Bridge. Official name is: Boston Public Garden Foot Bridge
  • Bridge is made of Grey Stone and Steel.
  • The bridge length is 104 ft (31 m), the width is 12 feet. The height under the bridge is 12 feet.
  • On one of the Bridge post is a marker to remember Lt. Michael Patrick Quinn US, who did in Vietnam in 1969. He spent his summers working the Swan Boats before enlisting in the Army.

swanbridge_winter
Winter View of the Bridge

August 24, 2017

Alexander Graham Bell

"Mr. Watson, come here -- I want to see you." Those famous words were uttered by Alexander Graham Bell on March 10, 1876, in Scollay Square in Boston. They were spoken at a workshop on the second floor of 109 Court Street.

Things I learned about Alexander Graham Bell time in Boston

  • He came to Boston to teach visual communications to the Boston school for the deaf. The school originally wanted his father but Alexander did well enough in teaching the children that the school was satisfied with the replacement.
  • He was a professor of the mechanism of speech at Boston University School of Oratory. He wanted to invent some device that would transmit sound over telegraph wires.
  • Boston University invested in his telephone invention by paying his yearly salary up front.
  • He witnessed the Great Boston Fire of 1872. He wrote his accounts of the fire in a letter to the Boston Globe. The Globe never posted his eyewitness to history.
  • The building where the first telephone transmission was made was taken down in the 1920s.
  • The laboratory was carefully moved to the Verizon Building. (It has since been removed to an undisclosed location.)
  • The building at 109 Court Street was the birthplace of the first transmission of sound over the wire and the first use of the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell Marker

On Court Street is a marker to where Alexander Graham Bell discovered the telephone

The First Telephone

The marker reads, "Birthplace of the Telephone. Here, on June 2, 1875, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson first transmitted sound over wires. This successful experiment was completed in a fifth-floor garret at what was then 109 Court Street and marked the beginning of worldwide telephone service."

The marker is located next to the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Federal Building. You can see it next to the blue sign on the Cambridge Street side of the building. Simply walk along the Boston City Hall Plaza towards Sudbury Street. You'll see the "John Fitzgerald Kennedy Federal Building" sign. The marker is on the other side of the bushes.

Alexander Lived Here

While in Boston, Alexander Graham Bell lived at 38 W. Newton St., Boston MA. A petition was submitted to the Boston Landmark Commission to make it a landmark. The request was denied on April 1979. I assume that the original building was taken down to make room for modern buildings. It is now a private residence, there are no signs to indicated who lived there before.

Given the location of Alexander home and work, chances are that he might have walked the streets of Boston to get to and from work. He would know about the Great Elm of the Boston Commons and probably cut through the commons to get to his workshop.

Invented the Telephone?

Most people have been taught that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. However, there is controversy on who really invented the telephone.

The telephone design was the patent on March 7, 1876. On January 13, 1887, the Government of the United States moved to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation, a case that the Supreme Court found viable and remanded for trial.

107th Congress Action in 2001 and 2002

Members of the 107th Congress voted in favor for giving credit to Antonio Meucci as the inventor of the telephone:

Whereas Antonio Meucci, the great Italian inventor, had a career that was both extraordinary and tragic; Whereas, upon immigrating to New York, Meucci continued to work with ceaseless vigor on a project he had begun in Havana, Cuba, an invention he later called the ''teletrofono'', involving electronic communications;
Whereas Meucci died in October 1889, the Bell patent expired in January 1893, and the case was discontinued as moot without ever reaching the underlying issue of the true inventor of the telephone entitled to the patent; and
Whereas if Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged.

Note: Only the House of Representatives voted on this action. No Senate vote was taken.

Remove the Alexander Graham Bell Marker?

Should Boston remove the Telephone marker near City Hall? Based on the actions by Congress, the marker gives false credit to Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone.

August 17, 2017

The Ames Building

Between Faneuil Hall and the Old State House is the Ames Boston Hotel. This building is the first skyscraper in the city of Boston.

Things that I learned about the Ames Building.

  • Built in 1891. The first tenant moved in January 5, 1891. (Old Colony Trust Company)
  • The Ames Building is 196 feet high (14 stories) and occupies 93,000+ square foot. For a brief period of time it was the tallest masonry building in the United States. The Monadnock Building in Chicago is the tallest masonry building.
  • Tallest Building in the United States in 1893 was the Milwaukee City Hall at 354 ft.
  • The building was never the tallest structure in Boston, the steeple of the Church of the Covenant has held that honor (236-foot)
  • The Church of the Covenant lost the status in 1915. That's when the Custom House Tower was built in 1915. (The Custom House Tower is a few blocks away from the Ames Building.)
  • In 1889 the Ames Building was estimated to cost $625,000 prior to construction. ( worth $15,376,496.02 in 2015. )
  • Building architect was Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge - who also designed the South Station building and the Trinity Church in Copley Square.
  • Offically listed as a Boston Landmark on November 23, 1993 (Exterior Landmark)
  • Today the Ames Building is called the Ames Boston Hotel. There are 114 luxury rooms available. It's part of the Curio Collection by Hilton Hotels.

Ames Hotel Building 2017
View from the Old State House.

Thanksgiving Day Fire 1889

Four firemen lost their lives in the construction of the Ames Building during a massive "The Thanksgiving Day Fire" on November 28, 1889. The fire was started in the basement of a warehouse about 5 blocks from the Ames Building. The fire destroyed hundreds of buildings and killed fourteen people.

Following firefighters were found dead in the Ames Building:

  • John J. Brooks Jr., Hose Company 7, age 29.
  • Michael Murnan, Hose Company 7, age 34.
  • Daniel J. Buckley, Ladder Company 3, age 31.
  • Frank P. Loker, Ladder Company 3, age 33.
  • Edward E. Whiting

Time Ball

At one time there was a Time Ball on the top of the Ames Building. The ball was used to help mariners entering Boston harbor for the correction of their chronometers. Each day at exactly at noon the ball would be hoisted to the top of the pole on the Ames Building. The ball was put up on December 30, 1902 and taken down on September 7, 1923. It was removed since the invention of radio time signal the service was no longer needed

Sign at the Building

Ames Hotel Sign

The Bostonian Society placed the following marker on the building:

When the thirteen-story Ames Building was completed in 1889, it was the tallest building in Boston. Designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the building exhibits both Romanesque and Byzantine architectural styles. The Ames Building was constructed before skyscrapers were built of steel, and instead is supported by nine-foot thick masonry walls. It is considered a great technical achievement of its day, and remains the tallest example of the type of construction in the United States. In 2009, the newly renovated Ames Building reopened as the Ames Hotel.

Location

The Ames Boston Hotel is located at 1 Court Street in Boston's Financial district. It's located directly across the street from the Old State House.

August 10, 2017

Democratic Donkey

In the courtyard of the Old City Hall is a statue of a Donkey and a pair of elephant footprints.

Boston Donkey3a

Interesting things that I learned about the Democratic Donkey

  • Placed in 1998.
  • Created by Antonio Frilli
  • Statue was purchased by Roger Webb while vacationing in Florence, Italy.
  • Roger Webb is the founder of the Architectural Heritage Foundation in Boston and help launch Preservation Massachusetts, a statewide nonprofit historic preservation organization.
  • Roger wanted the statue so that children had a place to play as they walked the Freedom Trail.
  • The City of Boston declined the initial request to install the statue along the Freedom Trail as they felt it wasn't appropriate to install an Italian Donkey.
  • Rodger was able to convince the City when he explained that the Donkey was the symbol of the Democratic Party since the 1840s. The twenty mayors of Old City Hall used the mascot and the Bronze Donkey would be a symbol of that time.
  • The Donkey is looking down at a pair of elephant footprints cast in bronze. (The Republican symbol is in the footprints.)
  • There is a message before the footprint which reads, "Stand in Opposition."
  • The bronze footprints were installed at the request of the Republican Party.
  • The footprints were installed in 2001.

Democratic Donkey and the Republican Elephant

They were the inventions of Thomas Nast, an illustrator who became America's preeminent political cartoonist. Nast's donkey first appeared as a Democratic party symbol in Harper's Weekly on Jan. 15, 1870. The elephant turned up in Harper's four years later.

August 3, 2017

William H. Sumner

Every day about 20,000 commuters travel through the Sumner tunnel from East Boston to Downtown Boston. Here's some information about the person that the tunnel is named after.

Five General Information Facts about William H. Sumner

  • William Hyslop Sumner was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on July 4, 1780, the
  • In 1789, when he was only 9 years old, William H. Sumner saw President Washington last visit to Boston.
  • He attended Harvard Law School and served as a member of the Great and General Court.
  • He was the Commander of the Massachusetts forces during the War of 1812
  • He was the Adjutant General of Massachusetts from 1818 - 1835 The Adjutant General is a member of the Massachusetts Governor's Cabinet and advises the Governor on military and emergency management matters.
  • He developed East Boston from marshland into a busy seaport.
  • In 1833 he established a ferry service from East Boston to Boston. The service was called "The Sumner Ferry"
  • Wrote several books including the Reminiscences of Lafayette's visit to Boston, History of East Boston, and Some Recollections of Washington's Visit to Boston as well as some others. All of his books are available at the Boston Public Library Central Delivery desk for in-library use only.
  • Died in Jamaica Plain in 1861

Mentioned in Edward M. Kennedy: "Chappaquiddick" speech (Top 100 American Speeches):

The people of this state, the state which sent John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster, and Charles Sumner, and Henry Cabot Lodge, and John Kennedy to the United States Senate are entitled to representation in that body by men who inspire their utmost confidence. For this reason, I would understand full well why some might think it right for me to resign. For me, this will be a difficult decision to make.

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.