Boston blog postings

Boston Postings

Earliest: March 16, 2003Latest: June 24, 2017Total: 176

March 10, 2016

Prudential Tower Time Capsule

The Prudential Tower is the second tallest building in Boston standing at 748 feet. The building was constructed over an old rail yard and the Massachusetts Turnpike during the 1960s. It cost the Prudential Company $150 million to build. (In today?s dollars it would be $1,128,171,428.57.)

The Prudential Center grand opening was held during Patriots Day weekend in 1965 (April 17-19). It was the first time that New Englanders would be able to go into the tallest building outside of New York city. According to news reports at the time, about 35,000 people came to the celebration.

As part of the grand opening celebration a time capsule was sealed in the north lobby of the Prudential Tower. The time capsule was sealed by British Consul General John N. O. Curle, O.V.S, and Prudential Senior Vice President Thomas Allsopp, with the help of construction workers Archie Langham, Charlie Ablondai, and Brian O?Rourke. The time capsule was sealed at 10 a.m on April 19th, 1965.

The time capsule was to be open ten years later - April 19, 1975. Which is the 200 anniversary of the famous Paul Revere Ride and the 100 anniversary of the Prudential Company. The time capsule was protected by a 350-pound bronze plaque displaying an actual piece of the Rock of Gibraltar.

The time capsule contained microfilmed pages from more than 200 New England newspapers, audiotapes of radio and TV editorial forecasts and editorial relating to Boston 1975. There were letters from by authorities in government, education, the arts, and sciences. In addition, there was a brochure of The Prudential Center as well other items from the opening weekend.

Boston Time CapsuleA picture of the contents of time capsule was posted on insuringthecity.wordpress.com website.

There is no indication of what happened at the Prudential Center on April 19, 1975. There?s nothing to suggest that the time capsule was actually removed and opened. I checked various media sources and verified that there is no mention of that particular time capsule after April 1965.

What has become of the time capsule and the contents? I still don't know, I am still investigating. If I can get a copy of the audio recordings, I'll be sure to play it with my readers.

Some additional information that I found:

Patriots Day and Easter fell on the same weekend in 1965. That will happen again in 2017.

On April 19, 1965, Gordon Moore published the famous article "Cramming more components onto integrated circuits? in Electronics magazine. Moore projected that over the next ten years the number of components per chip would double every 12 months. By 1975, he turned out to be right, and the doubling became immortalized as Moore's law.

More than 60,000 people per day visit Prudential Center, making it one of the most popular places to visit in Boston.

March 3, 2016

Prudential Preferred Shopper Card

Prudential Preferred Shopper Card

The Prudential Shopping Center features 65 world-class retailers, 21 distinctive dining options, 3 top Boston attractions and 1 Boston icon. A great place to visit and an awesome place to visit when working nearby.

If your one of those that work near the Prudential Shopping Center, you should consider getting their Preferred Shopper Card. It's a reward card that saves you money at many stores around the Prudential Shopping center. The card is free and available at the center court Information desk. Simply sign up for the card by giving them your name and email address.

This year card contains deals from 36 vendors around the Prudential Shopping Center. There are fewer deals than past years because much of the mall is under construction for some new stores. I still found some good deals with the card:

  • 10% off when you eat at 5 Napkin Burger
  • 10% off toys at Magic Bean
  • 20% off Merchandise at Boston Duck Tours
  • Free gift with Purchase at Microsoft

Past years savings featured awesome deals from Paradise Bakery where you were able to get two cookies for the price of one. That made for the great afternoon snack! Sadly they are no longer at the mall because the food court is now closed.

I would recommend picking up the Preferred Shopper Card and see all the available deals today. You never know when you at the Prudential and can use the card to save some money.

February 25, 2016

Copley Place Construction

Does your morning commute consists of walking by the 'SW Corridor Path' near Copley Place? Wondering what's the deal with all the construction site fences? You'll be happy to know that, some change is coming. There are two separate projects that are going on.

Project One - Fix Wall Damage

March 26 2014

A group of engineers are in the early stages fixing a hole in the wall from a cement truck accident on March 21, 2014.

Around noon time, a cement truck rolled over on the exit 22 ramp from the Mass Turnpike inside the Prudential Tunnel. The truck crashed into the wall of the tunnel, knocking bricks out of a section of the Copley Mall.

Immediately after the crash a tarp was put over the hole and a short time later the bricks were removed. When you drove through the tunnel it looked very strange to see the light shine through the tarp.

The Massachusetts Turnpike has finally gotten around to fixing the wall. This fix will cost the cement truck insurance company, at least, $20,000.

The only good thing out of that accident was the natural lighting in the dark tunnel. Looks like the construction isn't going to shed new light into the tunnel.

Project Two - Upgrading the Copley Place Entrance

The major construction change in this area is the redesign of the Copley Place Dartmouth Street entrance to be more handicap accessible. Check out the artist rendering with how it looks today to what it will look like:

Copley Feature Photos

This entrance redesign is estimated to cost Copley Place $9.2 million dollars. The existing mall entrance will be demolished. So MBTA commuters that use this entrance will have to find alternative ways to get into the mall.

This is a popular route that many Back Bay commuters use to get to work. Those that go this way will tell all about the constant escalator breakdown. When this happens, escalator is blocked and there's a long line of people grumbling there way up 45 steps up to Copley Place.

This past Wednesday, the MBTA send out this text alert to commuters:

Simon Text Alert

The underpath is a quick way for commuters to get from Copley Place to the Orange Line. This is very convenient way to get to the Back Bay station when it's raining or snowing outside.

Check back here for an additional post on the big changes going on at Copley Place.

February 18, 2016

Signs of Spring in Boston

It's been really cold this week in the Boston area. We are certainly feeling the brunt of the winter season. On Valentine's Day, the weather was very cold that it felt like minus 26 in MetroWest.

Framingham Weather

Most Bostonians has had enough of the winter and looking some signs of Spring. One good sign is that the Red Sox equipment truck has left for Florida. Pitcher and Catchers report in a few days.

If you're looking for a place to see the first flowers of Spring, I would recommend heading over to St Botolph Street sometime around the third week of March.

Last year, on the first day of Spring, I captured this photo of a blooming Crocus:

Boston Crocus

It turns out that this was one of the first flowers to spring up during last year's terrible winter. My picture even made it to several online media outlets like this one:

Universal Hub

Here's the location of where you can check to see the first signs of Spring. It's near the intersection of Garrison Street and St Botolph Street, just a few blocks from Copley Place:

Google Map Spring

February 11, 2016

Back Bay Buildings

I started working in the back bay Boston back in September 2011. The area has changed a lot since then. Here is a picture that I took from the 16th floor of the Christian Science Center administration building.

Back Bay2011

Here's the same picture today from the 14th floor:

Back Bay2015

Some of the notable differences between the two photos:

  • We can no longer see the landmark Citgo sign because of the 24 story Berkley building at 168 Massachusetts Ave. Construction started in late 2011 and was completed by the fall semester in 2013. Many maps showed that a McDonalds was at this location. The property was owned by the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
  • The parking lot on Belvedere Street is gone. Replaced by "30 Dalton Street." This new 26-story residential tower located near the Christian Science Center Plaza in Boston will feature 218 luxury rental units, below grade parking for up to 21 cars, and a ground floor retail space facing Belvidere Street. New residences will be able to move in this summer.
  • The small park in front of the parking lot is also gone. This is the site of "One Dalton Street", the 699-foot tower that will become Boston's tallest residential building.
  • According to the "One Dalton Street" construction schedule, I won't be able to see the "30 Dalton Street." building by labor day this year.

I wasn't able to take a picture from the same spot since our company expanded to other floors in the building.

February 4, 2016

Dunkin Donuts vs Starbucks in Boston

Today I was surprised to learn that in Suffolk County, Boston Proper, there are 85 Dunkin Donuts and 47 Starbucks. I thought that there would be lot more Dunkin Donuts in Downtown Boston.

I used Suffolk County as my location target because it covers all of the Downtown Boston areas. There are a few interesting things I learn along the way....

Dunkin Donuts closest to each other

Dunkin Donuts Boston

Technically the two closest Dunkin Donuts shops are located in the Back Bay Commuter rail station. There is a regular Dunkin Donuts on one side of the station and an express on the other side of the station. Both are extremely busy in the mornings.

Aside from that, the next two locations is a close tie between the stores on the corner of Bowdoin Street and the stores on Stuart Street and Charles Street. It looks like the Dunkin Donuts on Bowdoin Street wins by a slight margin.

I haven't been up to Bowdoin Street in a long time, but I recall that Duck-Boat operators' often refers to one of the coffee shops as "the only place in town where you can get a cappuccino and sushi at once." Not a good combination, in my option.

Starbucks closest to each other

Starbucks Boston

The two closest Starbucks shops are the shop on Dartmouth Street and the one in Copley Place. In fact, when your sitting at the table in Copley Place you can see the store on Dartmouth Street.

The Starbucks on Dartmouth Street is right next to the FedEx office. The other one isn't in the Copley Place but in the lobby of the Westin Copley Place. The easiest way to get there is to enter Copley Place and then take the pedestrian bridge over Stuart Street towards Westin Copley Place. You'll see it after you get off the pedestrian bridge. This is a real Starbucks since you can get all the drinks and food, and they sell Starbucks gift cards.

Shortest Walk between a Dunkin and Starbucks

With Boston having such a diverse mix of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, it got me wondering, what is the closest you have to walk to get from one store to another?

You don't have to walk too far if you want a glazed donut from Dunkin and a Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks in the Back bay. The two establishments on Massachusetts Ave are practically next to each other, separated only by Haviland Street.

Dunkin Starbucks

I am pretty sure that you won't find any place else in the country where a Starbucks and Dunkin are closer than they are on Massachusetts Ave.

Do you know of an even closer Dunkin/Starbucks? Send me an email with a picture. Small express stores don't count, they both should offer the full menu to qualify.

January 28, 2016

Thinking Cup

Thinking Cup Store

Last week I suggested a unique lunch place in Boston to try, this week its about trying a classic coffee shop - Thinking Cup.

Boston has it's share of Dunkin Donuts (20) and Starbucks (19), but there's nothing like visiting a local coffee shop to enjoy something local. Plus it's good to try something different every once in a while.

This week I stopped in to try the French Hot Chocolate and their "Salted Chocolate" cookie:

A French Hot Chocolate is basically a very creamy Hot Chocolate. They actually don't make it anymore, but the guy running the drink section made an exception and made an extra creamy hot chocolate. How awesome is that! Try that a Dunkin or Starbucks. The drink was very good and very creamy. I still like LA Burdock, which is about a 1/2 block away. This hot chocolate was very similar in taste. I only ordered it because I was intrigued on what a french hot chocolate would taste like. The "large" cup size didn't really seem that large to me.

Thinking Cup Cookie

The "Salted Chocolate Cookie" was also good. It was nice and soft and lots of chunks of chocolate, it did remind me of the great cookies I got at Paradise Bakery. Unfortunately, it wasn't gluten free, so my daughter wouldn't be able to try it. But Thinking Cup did have a lot of snacks and meals that are gluten free that she would enjoy.

They had lots of great classic coffee shop foods - except donuts. I didn't see any in the display case, perhaps they only have enough for the morning rush?

The coffee shop is a bit small, I would expect it to be very busy in the morning. When I stopped in at lunch time it wasn't all that busy and I did see some empty tables. There was a bit of a line waiting to place my order, which was fine because I was able to look at the display case and see what snacks I wanted.

The people working at Thinking Cup were very friendly and helpful. When I placed my order, they repeated it back to me to confirm what I told them. That's something that I haven't encountered at Dunkin or Starbucks. Everyone there was smiling and very helpful to all the customers waiting and those that were seated.

Thinking Cup Display

I would suggest trying out Thinking Cup on Newbury Street. Can't make it there for a snack? They do have several locations around the city, such as Downtown...

If you should eat in at the Newbury Street location. Try to get one of the tables on the left as soon as you walk in. You'll be away from the line traffic and have a good location to watch people walking down Newbury Street.

January 21, 2016

Trident Booksellers and Cafe

Spending some time in Boston's Back bay? Considering a unique cafe to eat at? Try the Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury Street. They are the last independent bookstore in Boston. Certainly worth checking out to eat, or to browse around the store.

TridentStoreSign.jpg

This a small bookstore that is pack with all sorts of unique books. This is a perfect lunch spot to stop in while window shopping on Newbury Street. You can eat in the Cafe or pickup and go. In the summer time, you can eat outside and watch all the nice cars go by. The outside patio does get very busy around lunch time, your best bet is to eat early or after 1:30.

You can find all sorts of books around the cafe. What makes this place better than Barns and Noble are the personal touches. Are you looking for a good book to read? Do you want to rely upon the reviews that you read online? Directly across the cash register is a bookshelf filled with staff recommendations. You can read why people suggest the particular books. I found that some of the recommendations are much better than anything you can find online. If you're unsure about a book, just ask someone. (Try doing that on Amazon!)

While browsing around the store recently, I encountered a large section of adult coloring books. These are all the rage right now. You can browse the collection to find the one that suits your needs. In addition, they have a good collection of color pencils and pens for the books.

Trident Booksellers and Cafe is a great place to find the hard to find gifts too. They have all sorts of little gifts on the tables around the store. I am not sure how they find some of these things, but it's always fun to go in and see what new and creative thing that they have in stock. In addition, near the cash register, they have a good collection of Boston gift items for people looking for souvenirs. They have a good stock of 'Good Night Boston' and 'Hello, Boston' book series.

Trident Store Inside

Just because Trident Booksellers and Cafe is on Newbury Street, one of the most expensive retail streets in New England, it doesn't mean everything is way over priced. I have found the prices on books and gifts to be very reasonable. Their sandwich prices are very competitive with most of the eating establishments around the Back Bay.

Trident Booksellers and Cafe is located on 338 Newbury St in Boston's Back Bay. The nearest cross street is Massachusetts Ave. Their location is perfect for anyone walking down Newbury Street.

Suggest Trip idea: Make Trident a midway breakpoint as you explore the various stores on Newbury Street. Starting from the Boston Gardens walk down the even side of Newbury Street. When you reach Trident, sit down and enjoy a snack then walk back to the Commons on the Odd side of Newbury Street.

If you're attending a convention at the Hynes Convention Center. Consider stopping by the Trident Booksellers and Cafe, it is about a 5-minute walk from the Convention Center main entrance to the Cafe. I am sure that the food and experience will be better than anything you get at the Convention Center.

January 14, 2016

The Christian Science Plaza

The Christian Science Plaza in Boston is a beautiful place to walk around or to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of Boston. From the east side of the plaza, you have an excellent view of the Prudential Tower and surrounding buildings.

If your visiting Boston in January, you can still get nice pictures of the Boston Skyline with the winter blue sky. You don't need to have water in the reflection pool to appreciate the architecture of the City of Boston.

The best time to take pictures at the reflection pool is in the afternoon. That's when the sun will shine on the right side of the Prudential Tower.

Reflection Pool at the Christian Science Center

Reflection Pool

The Reflection Pool at the Christian Science Center is 670 foot long. Compare that to the famous Lincoln Memorial Reflection Pool, in Washington DC, which is 2,029 feet long.

The water in the pool usually drains in the middle of November. The water comes back a couple of weeks after opening day at Fenway Park (around mid-April). It usually takes about 4 hours to fill up the reflection pool.

The Christian Science Plaza will not publicly announce when they plan to empty or fill up the pool. (This seems like a missed opportunity.) If you're visiting Boston in November or April, you never know if the pool is going to change. It's worth stopping by to see to see the difference the plaza is with and without water.

Like most reflection pools, there is no swimming allowed. Last year, the management allowed people put in remote control sail boats in the pool. It's kind of cool to see the boat going back and forth, and then trying to figure out who is controlling it. (Tip: Usually the person near a big duffle bag which is used to carry the boat.)

Center Plaza View

Water Fountain

On hot summer days children can cool off at the water fountain. The fountain is running every day when the temperature is above 50 degrees. Just before the fountain is shut off for the season they run the water at full blast, this causes a lot of steam which causes a nice effect.

If you do bring your children, you can treat them to come cool ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery on the other side of Belvedere Street.

fullblast2.jpg

Christian Science Plaza

Be sure to visit other sites around the plaza. Check out the gardens near the reflection pool and the trees around the plaza. There's lots of weekly activities at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, including the historical Mapparium.

January 7, 2016

Missed Boston Area Resturants

This was a tricky list to put together. It really made me think of all the various restaurants that I visited in the Boston Area over the years and which ones that I would want to go back to.

Today's post is all about three restaurants that I wish were still open and get one last meal. I had to think really hard of places that are no longer open that I would like to eat at again. The criteria for this list is simple; the location must be in the Boston area, closed for at least 5 years and a place where I ate their many times.

So here's my list:

  • Thompson's Clam Bar (Harwichport) - "Best Seafood Experience"
  • The European Restaurant (North End) - "Yummy Pizza"
  • The Tasty (Harvard Square) - "Best Hot Dog"

Thompson's Clam Bar

Location: Wychmere Harbor, Harwich Port

Ah I can still remember hearing something like this over the loud speaker:

"Miles, Miles party of seven your table is ready. Go down the stairs and down the dock and see the waitress name Nancy. Miles Party of seven."

Then there is the classic radio commercial:

"Hey, Where are you going... I am going where the tasty clams are...Thompson's... Where? Thompson's Clam bar, it's where the tastes clams are...come by boat, come by car, come the way you are. Thompson's Clam Bar in Harwichport"

Here's one version of the famous New England Commercial:

This was the place to go if you wanted fine seafood by the sea. It would be cool to see boats that would pull up to the pier by your table and see people get out just to get some excellent New England Cooking.

When I was little my family use to go at least once every summer as part of our summer tradition. It was fun to sit and watch the boats go by. At the time we were members of the Yacht Club, which was on the other side of the channel, and we would look over to see what was going on at the club while we were eating.

I remembered that they had a great mix of rice crackers on the waiting tables on the patio. (Basically bar snack food) I remember them tasting really great and they weren't too spicy. For years, every time I would see a similar pack of Rice crackers in the grocery store I would buy it wishing it would be the same. I never found one that had the same taste.

The last time you could get fried clams at Thompson's Clam Bar was Labor Day Weekend in 1995.


The European Restaurant

Location: Handover Street, Boston Massachusetts. (North End)

This was a great go to restaurant in the North End. I remember my Dad would park the car under the causeway and we would walk over to Hanover Street and to the European. It would be an awesome treat.

The pizza was good and I remember some of the decorations around the restaurant. I remember the back room had a tall ceiling and their were lots of tables. I believe that they had family seating similar to Durgin-Park.

We didn't make it an annual tradition, but if we were going to get a bite to eat in Boston it would be at the European.

After we left the restaurant we would head over to Mike's Pastry and some awesome deserts. That is if we were still hungry from eating the large Italian Pizza.

The Aprile's European Restaurant in Chelmsford is supposed to be the modern version of the fine food served at 'The European.' I haven't been there to try it out, might be worth the drive to check it out.

For over 80 years, The European was an institution in Boston's North End. Now Eddie Aprile has brought back the recipes and the spirit of the European to North Chelmsford. Located in a historic brick millhouse, Aprile's European Restaurant has a comfortable, yet elegant atmosphere while that serves rustic Italian cuisine. Come join us for lunch, dinner, at the bar, or to book your private event.

The The European Restaurant open in 1920 and served it's last pizza on January 7, 1997. Today CVS occupies the space that was the historic European.


The Tasty

Location: 1 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge Ma (Harvard Square)

Nothing like getting a cheap hot dog for lunch in Harvard Square. The Tasty was a very small diner where people could get a quick hamburger or hot dog. They were very well known for their hot dogs and very small counter that surrounded the kitchen.

When I was working in Harvard Square for a few years, I would intentionally take later lunch breaks so I didn't have to wait to get a seat. I remember many times sitting up on the counter at lunch time and asking for 2 hot dogs and a coke with fries.

Don't remember much of the fries, but I do recall that the hot dogs were very good and snap when you bite in to them. They would have about 10-15 hot dogs on the warm part of the grill and would move the hot dogs to the hot burner as soon as you place your order.

It was kind of cool to just sit at the counter and listen to people talk to the cook about what's going on in their world. Since it was Harvard Square, you never know who would be sitting next to you. Would it be some famous Professor, future lawyer or even a future President.

Federico Muchnik did a film of the history of the Tasty:

THE TASTY DINER of HARVARD SQUARE - A film by Federico Muchnik from Federico Muchnik on Vimeo.

'The Tasty' served it last hot dog in November 1997. (It was in business for 81 years.)

How did I do?

Do you know any places that I might have forgotten about that should be included? Let me know, send me an email or catch me on Twitter.