Boston blog postings

Boston Postings

Earliest: March 16, 2003Latest: October 19, 2017Total: 193

April 21, 2016

Rivalry (Boston and New York)

When you think of the Boston vs New York rivalry, what comes to your mind?

Red Sox vs Yankees? Patriots vs Jets?

Long before the Babe was traded to the Yankees, there was an engineering rivalry between the two cities. They were both in a race to see which one would be the first to build a successful underground subway system.

It all started after the great blizzard of 1888 hit the Northeast crippling all transportations for many weeks. Politicians in both cities wanted a solution similar to what London was implementing at the time. They wanted to put some of the current transportation structure underground.

Boston

After the legislative approves $5,000,000 for the project, construction began on March 28, 1895. Most of the early construction happened around Boston Commons. There were numerous delays including some issues with finding lots of unmarking graves around Central Burying Grounds. The tunnels were not as deep as the ones in London as the theory was that buildings would hold up better with tunnels not dug too deep. Boston Elevated Railway was the main company that undertook the main part of the project.

The first subway cars left Tremont Station at 8am on September 1st, 1897. Today the MBTA operates 4 Subway lines and 12 commuter rail lines covering 1,193 miles.

New York

While New York wasn't the first subway system, it would be the largest. The New York legislature approved $35,000,000 for initial construction. Once the final plans were in place, construction began on March 24, 1900.

Operation of the subway began at 2:37 pm on October 27, 1904, with the opening of all stations from City Hall to 145th Street on the West Side Branch. Today the has 26 lines and 468 stations in operation; the longest line, the 8th Avenue "A" Express train, stretches more than 32 miles, from the northern tip of Manhattan to the far southeast corner of Queens.

Read More

There's a lot more to talk about the original subway rivalry. Way too much for a weekly Blog posting.

You can read a lot more detail about all the drama that took place during the rush to be the first in The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway by Doug Most.

MBTA Sign

April 14, 2016

Leif Ericsson Statue

Leif Ericsson Side View

There are many monuments and statues around Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Near the Charlesgate overpass stands a life size statue of Leif Erikson.

Many people believe that Leif Ericsson, a Norse explorer, was the first European to step on North American soil in the year 1000. This theory was made popular in 1838 when the accounts of the journey were translated into English. Once Americans learned about Leif's adventures Leif became popular.

In 1887, Boston philanthropist Eben N. Horsford commissioned the statue. According to various newspaper articles published at the time, the location was selected because that is where he believes where the keel of Erikson's ship grated on the shore of Boston's Back Bay. This was the first Leif Ericsson statue in America.

The statue was created by Anne Whitney, a notable Boston sculptor that also created a duplicate Leif Ericsson statue for Juneau Park, Milwaukee. If you look at Leif Erikson statue's left foot you can see Anne Whitney's name and date of work (1885) . Next to the name is SC - which stands for sculptor.

Statue Information

The statue has the following inscription on the front:

In runic letters, which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet:

Leif, son of Erik the Red

On the back, which is slightly hard to read, says:

Leif Quotes3

On the right side of the statue is a bronze plaque showing the Ericsson crew landing on the rocky shore.

On the left side of the statue is bronze plaque showing the crew sharing the story of the discovery.

Location

You can find the statue on the Commonwealth Ave. Mall, near Charlesgate East. The best time to see the statue is late afternoon so you can get an unshaded picture of the statue.

Anne Whitney
Anne Whitney's name on the Leif Ericsson statue.

April 7, 2016

Fenway Park

To Fenway Sign

Here are some notes of things that make Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts, a special place to visit.

Game Time - Gates open 1 xBD hours before game time. Season ticket holders and Red Sox Nation members may enter at Gate C 2 xBD hours before each game.

Teddy Ballgame's Seat - In Seat 21 in row 37 of section 42 of the bleachers marks the spot where, in 1946, Ted Williams knocked the longest in-park home run in the park's history. The ball ended up landing in and ruining the straw hat of Joe Boucher, a Yankee fan. The seat where Joe Boucher sat was 502 feet from home plate. The red seat back was installed in 1984 by then Red Sox owner Haywood Sullivan.

Morse Code - Two of the scoreboard's vertical lines contain the initials TAY and JRY -- for Tom Yawkey and Jean Yawkey -- appear in Morse code in two vertical stripes on the scoreboard.

Pesky's Pole - Just one of many examples of Fenway's uniqueness is the right field foul pole, which is placed closer than in most big-league stadiums at 302 feet. It was officially designated Pesky's pole on September 27, 2006, which was Pesky's 87th birthday. There is a commemorative plaque at the base of the pole.

Manually Operated Scoreboard - The only one left in the Majors, the game's score is kept by two operators who sit inside the Green Monster and monitor the game by radio. The numbers used on scoreboard are 13-by-16 inch plates that are at about 2 pounds.

The Monster's Ladder - There is a ladder 13 feet up the wall in left center. In the past, it was used by groundskeepers to fetch balls hit into the net over the giant green wall. But now with the four new rows of seats on top of the Green Monster, its function is obsolete. If a ball should hit the ladder the ball is in play, there has been three known inside the park home runs as a result of hitting the Monster Ladder.

Fenway Park History2

Day Game Seats - During daylight games Bleacher section 34 and 35 are blocked off to provide a solid batter's eye backdrop for the hitters.

TV Seats - If you're looking for the seats that get you on Television during a game, you'll want to sit in section Field Box 35 rows 4 and 5. There is a Field Box Usher that will check your tickets to prevent people from seat squatting in this area. In addition, the camera tends to catch people sitting over Field Box 58 and 57.

Catching a Foul Ball - In all the years that I have been going to Fenway, there are a few Sections where I kept seeing foul balls land. The best sections to catch a foul ball is Lodge Box 112 (Rows A-D) for right-hand hitters and Lodge Box 147 (Rows A-D) for left-hand hitters.

No matter where you sit if you can see the field, the ball can get to you. Just remember to be alert at all times during gameplay.

Obstructed View Seats - Being one of the oldest parks in baseball does have one drawback, obstructed view seats. These are the worst seat locations in Fenway Park. You won't be able to see the batter or the pitcher.

  • Grandstand Section 1, Row 1, Seat 1
  • Grandstand Section 1, Row 4, Seat 4
  • Grandstand Section 4, Row 2, Seat 27
  • Grandstand Section 4, Row 3, Seat 27
  • Grandstand Section 8, Row 1, Seat 10
  • Grandstand Section 12, Row 1, Seat 12
  • Grandstand Section 18, Row 2, Seat 5
  • Grandstand Section 20, Row 8, Seat 1
  • Grandstand Section 23, Row 2, Seat 16
  • Grandstand Section 23, Row 2, Seat 17
  • Grandstand Section 28, Row 13, Seat 1

Sound of Music - Music is a big part of the game at Fenway Park. Immediately after a volunteer yells out "Play Ball" the song "Play Ball" by J. Bristol is played through the park. During the game, the Red Sox hitters get to pick the music as they walk to the batter's box.

In the middle of the 7th inning the crowd will sing "Take me Out to the Ballgame." At the middle of the 8th inning, diehard Red Sox fans start singing "Sweet Caroline."

When the Red Sox win, the following songs are played throughout the stadium: "Tessie" by the Dropkick Murphys, "Dirty Water" by The Standells and "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night.

Fenway2006

Support the Outside Vendors - Since the 1990's the Boston City Council has been slowly phasing out the cart vendors around Fenway Park. The vendors will be allowed to continue to operate until they die or retire, but their operating permits will not be allowed to pass on to anyone else.

Currently there are 16 outside vendors around the park. Once they leave, only Aramark will be the sole vendor around Fenway Park.

Personally I like getting the Peanuts from Nicholas "Nicky" Jacobs who sells them at their family cart by the Gate A. The family has been selling peanuts at the same spot since 1912.

Fenway First Timer Perks: If you have never been to Fenway Park before make sure that you stop into one of the Fan Services booths -- located at Gate E, Gate D, and Gate B -- to receive your "First Timers" fan items.

When they check your ticket, simply ask the directions to get your Fenway First Timer Perk!

Huntington Avenue Ground

If you like this post, check out my post about the location ofHuntington Avenue Grounds, it's the ballpark the Red Sox used before going to Fenway Park.

Team Store

March 31, 2016

Discover the Boston Marathon Finish Lines

In its 120-year history, the Boston Marathon has had 4 different finish line locations. Here's some information about each of the finish lines:

The goal of today's post is to help people find the location of the major Boston Marathon finish lines.

1897- 1898 - The Early Years

Boston Marathon Copley

The exact location of the first two Boston Marathon finish lines were never recorded. This is because the final part of the marathon involved running a lap around the Irvington Oval. The Irvington Oval was a running track near Copley Square. The exact location of the finish line was never recorded.

The winner of the first Boston Marathon was J.J. McDermott of the Pastime Athletic Club of New York, he was given an ovation as he went around the Irvington oval track.

Today, there are a many Boston marathon symbols in Copley Square to remember those that accepted the challenge to run the race. The memorabilia is located where some historians consider the first finish line would have been located.

Finding the Finish Line Today: Visit Copley Square and in the area near the BosTix Booth is where you'll see Boston Marathon markers. The four brown metal poles in the area are similar to ones that the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) used as the finish line in the early days of the Boston Marathon. (42.3501,-71.0767)

1899 - 1964 - Exeter Street Years

Exeter Street Years

In 1899, the BAA moved the finish line to be next to the organization headquarters on Exeter Street. That location today is the main branch of the Boston Public Library.

The marathon last mile was a bit different than today, back then runners would go further down Commonwealth Avenue and then turn right onto Exeter Street for the final leg of the marathon. The finish line was near the back of the Lenox Hotel, just before Blagden Street.

How you can find the finish line: The finish line was located next to the Lenox Hotel on Exeter street. Based on pictures and videos of the 1960 marathon, it looks like the finish line was between the City Table entrance and the back of the Lenox building. On Exeter Street, there is a separation in the pavement and that is where I believe the finish line was located. Exeter Street has been paved over long after the 1964 marathon, so you won't find any indication of the previous finish line. I don't believe that the road separation has anything to do with the finish line. (42.3488, -71.0794)

1965 - 1985 - The Prudential Years

Prudential Years

When the Prudential Insurance Company became a major sponsor, the BAA change the finish link Boston to be in front of the Prudential Center Plaza. The change began the same weekend that the Prudential Center open for the first time.

The official race ended on Ring Road, but it's not the same Ring RD that you know of today. Between 1965 and 1988, there was a North Ring Road that was parallel to Boylston Street and the Hynes Civic Auditorium. This is where the Boston Marathon finish line was from 1965 to 1985 - about 300 yards from the intersection of Hereford Street and Boylston Street.

Some of the Notable finishes at the Prudential Finish Line:

  • 1972 - The BAA offically recognized Women runners
  • Bill Rodgers wins 3 straight Boston Marathons (1978, 1979, 1980)
  • 1982 - Alberto Salazar beats Beardsley by 2 seconds.

Finding the Finish Line Today: The finish line disappeared when Ring Road was removed in 1988 to make room for the Hynes Convention Center. The finish line location was right at the base of the Prudential Plaza, just about where the Quest Eternal sculpture was located. The Prudential Plaza is currently going through major renovation and the Quest Eternal statute has been removed. To see where it was, simply stand by the Boston Marathon RunBase store and look over to the Prudential Building. (42.3486,-71.083)

1985 - Present - The John Hancock Years

2016 Finish Line

In the mid-1980s the BAA encountered challenges getting elite runners from running in other marathons. Boston certainly had the name and history, but other marathons offered better incentives to run their races. The BAA decided to commercialize the Boston Marathon and make the race a professional event in an effort to keep pace with the other major marathons.

The Prudential Insurance withdrew sponsorship in protest.

In September 1985, the BAA announced that a 10-year $10 million sponsorship deal with the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. The agreement names Hancock as the race's major corporate sponsor and the race will now pay a cash prize - $250,000 for the first year. The new cash prize match similar prizes by New York and Chicago marathons.

As a result of the change of sponsorship, the finish line was moved to be near the John Hancock building.

Finding the Finish Line Today: You can find the current Boston Marathon finish line right in front of the Boston Public Library. The finish line road paint is now visible year round. (42.3498, -71.0788)

March 24, 2016

Things to do with a Preschooler in Boston

Boston Museum Science

As a long time Bostonian, I thought I put together a list of Boston places that I would like to show my 5-year-old daughter. These are places that she would have fun seeing in Boston. Many of these should be familiar to most Bostonians, but I am sure there are some surprises in the list.

During the past couple of years she had done many of these things, but there's a few that she should do over and over again.

List of 10 unique things to Do with Preschoolers around Boston Before They Grow Up

  1. Museum of Science

    A fun day running around the museum exploring all the exhibits. Going up the steep stairs at the Omni Theater gives them a hint that the movie they are about to watch will be unlike anything they have ever seen.

  2. Red Sox Game at Fenway Park

    Watching a Red Sox game on a hot summer day at Fenway Park. Arrive early to watch batting practice and walk around the park. Don't forget pictures with Wally! Don't forget to get your "First Timers" fan items at one of the Service Booths at Gate E, Gate D, and Gate B!

  3. Boston Commons & Boston Public Gardens

    Spend some time summer day at the Boston Commons, there's plenty to do at the playground, fly a kite, get wet at Frog Pond and throw around the frizbee. Enjoy a nice family day playing in the oldest park in the Country. Did you know that George Washington walked around the park? At the Garden, everyone can enjoy a nice ride on the Swan Boats, sit on one of the Make way for Duckings statues (Figuring out the names of each) and smelling the spring flowers.

  4. Eriksons Ice Cream

    in Maynard, Massachusetts. One of the oldest continuing running ice cream stand in New England.

  5. The Prudential Skywalk

    Enjoy the view of Boston from high above. "Can you see your House? How about the Baseball field?"

  6. Boston Castle Island

    An opportunity to explore an old castle in Boston? Who wouldn't want to do that. Let them go explore and have fun. Good place to watch airplanes arriving/leaving Logan Airport.

  7. Thompson Island

    Fun times exploring one of Boston's Island. Pack a lunch, and get the boat to Thompson Island.

  8. Redcoat Reenactment: Patriots Day

    A New England classic, watch the reenactment of the Minuteman in Lexington and Concord.

  9. Salem in October

    Enjoy some of the Halloween adventure in Witch Country. The children will have fun dressing up in costume and enjoying the festivities in downtown Salem. Visit in early October for smaller crowds.

  10. Mendon Drive In

    Drive in movie theaters are getting rare, and the one in Mendon is really nice. Get some popcorn, and have a nice evening watching a movie.

  11. Ecotarium

    The Hurricane Simulator at the Ecotarium is a pretty cool experience for a preschooler.

Mendon Drive In

Do you know of any other places that I take my daughter in Boston to have a memorable childhood? Let me know!

March 22, 2016

New Back Bay Video Display

Today I noticed a new video display above the Track 5/7 Commuter Rail station exit way:

Back Bay Collage

The number 5 and 7 tracks are for the Framingham/Worcester base trains at the Back Bay train station. The exit takes riders on the other side of Dartmouth Street. The exit is right next to the Copley Place Mall.

The MBTA also replaced the old 'Back Bay' sign and clearly indicated that this is not an entrance way. I have noticed that the door downstairs has been closed on a number of occasions which prevents commuters from entering the tracks from the exit door.

The video display was probably put in sometime during the past weekend. (I go by this exit every day and today it was the first time it caught my eye.)

March 17, 2016

Happy Evacuation Day!

On this day in 1901, the City of Boston officially celebrated Evacuation Day for the first time. This is the description in the Massachusetts record on how the sitting governor should handle March 17 every year, it was officially enacted in law in 1941:

Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Title II, Chapter 6, Section 12k

Section 12K. The governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting apart March seventeenth as Evacuation Day and recommending that it be observed by the people with appropriate exercises in the public schools and otherwise, as he may see fit, to the end that the first major military victory in the war for American independence, namely, the evacuation of Boston by the British, may be perpetuated.

The True Meaning of Evacuation Day

During the Revolutionary War, General Washington was struggling to outsmart British General Gage, whose troops had occupied Boston since 1768. On the pre-dawn hours of March 17, 1776, Washington's Troops, made a strategic move to gain control of Dorchester Heights in South Boston which overlooked the entire British fleet. Colonel Henry Knox's troops had recently transported cannons they captured from Fort Ticonderoga in New York and transported them to Boston. On the morning of March 17, the British awoke to find the cannons aimed straight at them. The British were forced to evacuated their perch a few days later. This was a turning point in the war.

How did Evacuation Day become a Boston Holiday?

Boston Pilot and the Eliot School rebellion

The earliest mention of making March 17 an Evacuation Day holiday came in 1859. That's when the Boston Pilot suggested it during the Eliot School incident (Eliot School rebellion).

This was when Thomas J. Whall, a Catholic, refused to recite the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments. As a result, of his refusal, he was suspended from school. The Boston Pilot, which led the fight for the young Whall, was was looking for more fuel to the fire. In 1859, it noted the eighty-third anniversary of the British leaving Boston on March 17, 1776, and posed the rhetorical question as to why Bostonians hadn't yet celebrated Evacuation Day. Everyone knew the reason: Evacuation Day happened to fall on Saint Patrick's Day. The Pilot added:

Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past -

The expulsion of the battalion of England from Boston was not a 'Know Nothing' achievement; not would the sentiments of those who accomplished it harmonize with the sentiments of that party.

Dorchester Heights Monument

Additionally interest later came when construction of the Dorchester Heights Monument was being built.

In the later half of 19th Century, the hills around Dorchester Heights were getting smaller due to excavation. In 1898, the General Court of Massachusetts commissioned a monument to stand on the hill of the Heights. Designed by the architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, the white marble Georgian revival tower commemorates the 1776 victory. Shortly after the construction was completed was when the City of Boston started celebrating Evacuation Day.

Becomes Law in 1941

Parade Members

In 1941 state representatives Thomas Coyne and Michael Cusik managed to make it a legal holiday in Suffolk County, which includes Boston, Chelsea, and Winthrop.

Every year there is some Massachusetts legislator who will file a bill to eliminate the holiday as it serves very little purpose. Opponents argue that it cost the city too much money in holiday pay. Proponents argue that it was a critical point during the Revolutionary War that should always be remembered.

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.