Boston Content- Page 20
Coconut Grove Night Club Fire
In 1942 one of the world's worst nightclub fire happen in Boston. On the night of November 28, 1942, 491 people died at the Coconut Grove nightclub. This is still the worst nightclub fire in History.
Twelve things that I learned about the nightclub fire:
- The official cause of the Cocoanut Grove fires is being "of unknown origin"
- Most people died because of inadequate exits and toxic smoke
- One person killed himself at the hospital when he found that his wife died in the inferno. Official records count include this death in the records - 492 deaths as a results of the nightclub fire
- 160 people were injured in the fire
- The nightclub was zone to hold only 460 people.
- The main part of the fire was put out within 30 minutes of it starting.
- Buck Jones, a famous Movie cowboy star, died from injuries sustained from the fire
- Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital treated burn victims
- At one point patients were arriving at Boston City Hospital every eleven seconds.
- Burn Hospital Victims were treated with penicillin the first time for the civilian population
- Barney Welansky, the owner of the club was convicted of manslaughter in connection and sent to prison for 12-15 years.
- Barney only served four years of the prison term.
As results of the fire
- New safety codes require all revolving doors must have regular outward-swinging doors nearby.
- New innovation to help burn victims
- New Legal rules on building owners on maintaining safe conditions to the buildings.
Piedmont Street Today
Today the site of the former nightclub is a parking garage and a large empty lot. The area of the original main dining room is now a new street called Coconut Grove Lane.
In 1993, on the 50th anniversary of the fire, a memorial plaque was placed at the original location of the nightclub. The plaque is placed on the sidewalk near where the revolving door was located. (Many of the victims died as a result of the rush to the revolving door.)
The plaque reads:
Erected by Bay Village Neighborhood Association. In Memory of the more than 490 people who died as a result of the Coconut Grove fire on November 28, 1942. As a result of this terrible tragedy major changes were made in the fire code and improvements in the treatment of burn victims no only in Boston but across the nation.
"Phoenix out of the Ashes"
This plaque crafted by Anthony P. Marra, Youngest Survivor of the Coconut Grove fire. You can see a map of the nightclub on the plaque, and the revolving door
Anthony P. Marra was a Cocoanut Grove Club employee who escaped the fire.
Location of the Plaque
The plaque is located at the corner of Piedmont Street and Coconut Grove Lane, (17 Piedmont Street.) It located just underneath the lamp post sign.
Oliver Ames Jr. Square
At the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Charlesgate West, near Kenmore Square, is a sign indicating that it's Oliver Ames Jr Square. Did you know, that Boston had two famous Oliver Ames Jr?
- Oliver Ames Jr (1807 - 1877) - President of the Union Pacific Railroad
Key Accomplishment: Instrumental with completion of the first transcontinental Railroad in North America.
- Oliver Ames Jr (1895 - 1918) - United States Army Officer
Key Accomplishment: A courteous kindly gentleman and a true soldier
The square is named for Lieutenant Oliver Ames Jr. who served in the 165th United States Infantry Regiment, part of the 42nd Infantry Division in World War One. On July 29th, 1918, he gave his life at the Second Battle of the Marne.
Oliver Ames Jr (1807 - 1877) is the father of Oliver Ames Jr (1895 - 1918)
Some interesting thing that I learned about Oliver Ames Jr:
- Born in Boston on April 8, 1885
- Married Caroline Lee Fessenden before the World War I
- Served in the 165th United States Infantry Regiment, part of the 42nd Infantry Division
- The 42nd Infantry Division was mostly made up of National Guard units.
- Served under Major "Wild Bill" Donovan
- Was killed by a German sniper who was hiding behind a dead horse at the Battle of the Ourcq River during the second battle of the Marne.
- He received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously with the following text: "He fought gallantly until on the last day he was killed while going forward voluntarily through machine-gun and snipers' fire to the assistance of his battalion commander."
- In 1922, a book about him called "OLIVER AMES, J R - 1895-1918" by Mark Antony De Wolfe Howe published by Harvard Press
- The book contains actual letters that he wrote home from the frontline.
You can see the new "Boston Strong" sign from the square. The square is between the cars and the "Boston Strong" sign.
Oliver Ames Jr buried at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in Picarde, France. His grave reads:
Oliver Ames, Jr.
2nd Lt. Inf. U. S. R.
Killed in action, July 29th, 1918
Act. Adjutant 1st Btn. 65th Inf.
Mario Susi & Sons Marker
On Court Street, near the Washington Street intersection, if you look around the sidewalk you will see the following:
You can see these sidewalk markers in various places around the city of Boston. Mario Susi & Sons is an excavating contractor that has performed construction projects for the city of Boston.
What is an Excavating Contractor?
Excavation Contractors perform site preparation, grading, trenching and other various soil-related tasks. They basically get to drive around very large pieces of heavy equipment to get the job done.
Things I learned about Mario Susi & Sons
I wasn't able to find a lot about the company, which is surprising since they do a good job with streetside advertising.
- Company was founded in 1955
- Founded by Mario Susi and his sons Raymond Phillip Susi and Joseph Susi
- Approximately 20 full time employees
- $4.1 million in annual revenue
- Bids on various construction projects for Boston, Cambridge, Braintree and Milton
- In 1983, they did work around Medford Square - another place where you may find the marker on the sidewalk
- In 2007 they did some work Central Avenue/Eliot Street intersection in Milton where you may also find the above marker.
- Mario Susi died October 27 2005
- Raymond Phillip Susi died on March 20, 2014
- Joseph Susi died on February 26, 2016
- Website: msusi.com
- According to various posts, the are "one of the most well known and respected contractors in the Boston area"
"Then & Now" MOS Exhibit
Did you know that the Boston Museum of Science has an exhibit that looks back at some of the histories of the museum? You can take a step in time and look back at some of the famous exhibits at the museum.
You can read all about how the museum transformed from the Boston Society of Natural History in 1860 to what it is today.
Some of the features in this Exhibit
- Pictures of the Boston Society of Natural History
- Birds that were on display at the "Boston Society of Natural History"
- Pictures of some old Exhibits, remember the Hatch Egg?
- Pictures of the original Dinosaur and why they changed it.
- Pictures of Spooky - The Museums Great Horned Owl
- Turbidity Column Exhibit
- Interact with The Tooth Exhibit
- Interact with the first Interactive Exhibit, the Ermine.
- Watch a classic 1980s commercial of the Museum - Where its fun to find out"
This is a cool place to walk through if you visited the museum when you were a kid. You can see many familiar things from the museum past.
Finding the Exhibit
The "Then & Now" exhibit is on Level 2 in the Blue Wing, just beyond the Science in the Park in the Theater of Electricity.
Thanks to the Sponsors!
The exhibit was made possible through the generosity of Joan and Herman Suit, and the George Willard Smith Endowment Fund.
Washington Portrait at the Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library Central Branch is known for having a lot of beautiful architecture. Among the serious researchers in the library are tourists checking out the main marble staircase in the entrance hall and the various paintings in the Abbey room.
In the second floor of the McKim Building is the Washington Room. A few months ago this is where people would sit and do research on the computers - it was part of Tech Central. The computers might be gone, but the beauty of the room still exist.
The centerpiece of the room is the large picture of George Washington hanging over the desk in the room.
Washington at Dorchester Heights
by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
A sign near the desk reads...
Known for his portraits and history paintings, German artist Emanuel Leutze selected a dramatic scene from the Revolutionary War for this enormous work, depicting General George Washington commanding his troops to occupy the hills of Dorchester Heights on the south side of Boston. This action by Washington and the Continental Army in 1776 proved instrumental in driving British forces out of the city, ending the nearly year-long siege of Boston.
The painting was purchased by the City of Boston with gifts from School Children and citizens from Vose Gallery in 1955.
About Vose Gallery
If you really like the art at the Boston Public Library, you should check out more contemporary pieces at the nearby Vose Gallery - which many tourists may not know about. Vose Galleries specializes in 18th, 19th, and early 20th-century American paintings. America's oldest family-owned art gallery, Vose has founded 160 years ago.
Family-owned gallery features American Impressionist art along with contemporary pieces by realists.
They are located at 238 Newbury Street. Getting there from the library is easy, simply walk out the main library doors by Boylston Street and cross Boylston Street. Take a right on Exeter Street, and then a left on Newbury Street. The Vose Gallery will be on the left side about 1/2 block down, it's right next to CVS. Just before Fairfield Street.
Free Library Tours
The Boston Public Library offers daily tours highlighting the architecture of its famed Central Library buildings by Charles Follen McKim and Philip Johnson as well as the art treasures within, including works by Daniel Chester French and John Singer Sargent.
The tours start near the McKim Entrance, stop by the one of the borrower services desks for information on the next tour.
Boston Logan International Airport
Boston Logan International Airport (IATA Code BOS) is the largest airport in New England. Most New Englanders call the airport, simply "Logan."
Since we are going to be flying out of the airport soon, I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit about the airport. Here are some things that I have learned about the airport.
- The original airfield was created by the United States Army
- First airplane to land on the field was on June 13, 1923.
- That's 19 years, 5 months, 27 days after the Wright Brothers first flight.
- Commercial Aircraft started flying out in 1927.
- In 1927, Charles Lindbergh and the "Spirit of St. Louis" landed in Boston after a solo flight across the Atlantic
- Official Name is the General Edward Lawrence Logan Airport. (June 12, 1943)
- Previous Name was the Commonwealth Airport, some people may refer to it as the "East Boston Airport"
- In 1947, the airport became International with passenger flights to Canada, Bermuda, Lisbon and London.
- In 1959, Massport took over the airport
- In 1973, Massport built a 22-story airport control tower. (The largest in the world.)
- Today the Airport covers 2,384 acres and six runways.
- Currently rank 17th busiest airport in the United States.
- The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger aircraft to ever have landed at the airport.
- Private Planes can land at Logan Airport. Departure Fees start at $10 daytime. Nighttime field use starts at $59. - Massport Aircraft Operating & Parking Fees
General Edward Lawrence Logan
- Born in South Boston and Graduated from Boston Latin
- Served in the 9th Massachusetts Regiment in 1897
- Commanded the 101st Regiment in World War I
- Justice of the South Boston Court in 1914
- Died July 6, 1939 and buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery
- A statue of General Logan by Joseph Coletti was unveiled at the entrance to the former Boston Airport when it was officially renamed the General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport in a public ceremony in 1956.
- The statue has been moved with each major airport expansion.
- The statue is currently located on Porter Street. You will see it on your left as you get on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The joke around the city is that the airport is named after an infrequent flier. The question is: Why did Boston name an airport after General Edward Lawrence Logan? For all of his many accomplishments, Lieutenant General Logan never flew in an airplane.
Certificate of Occupancy
At the 177 Huntington Ave Office Building you can still see signs of the old building owner. On the back stairs, at each floor landing is a "Certificate of Occupancy." This is a copy of one of the documents:
Click on image for a larger version.
This particular Certificate of Occupancy defines the max load for all floors in the building as 50 lbs per square foot.
Some information about the Building Code in the City of Boston:
Chapter 479 of the Acts of 1938 as amended, 'An Act for the Codification, Revision and Amendment of the Laws Relative to the Construction, Alterations and Maintenance of Buildings and other Structures in the City of Boston' was passed by the Legislature on June 27, 1938, with the provision that it take effect upon its acceptance by the Boston City Council, whereupon the Council proceeded to hold a series of public hearings on proposed amendments submitted by architects, builders, property owners and various civic organizations.
The act was changed a few years later:
On January 1, 1975, the Massachusetts State Building Code, Chapter 802 of the Acts of 1972, as amended, went into effect in the City of Boston and superseded all previous codes. The Building Department and the Housing Inspection Department were abolished and all powers and duties transferred to the Inspectional Services Department by Chapter 19 of the Ordinances of 1981.
In older building, built before 1975, you will find in one of the stairwells, most likely not a heavy traffic one, a Certificate of Occupancy.
Martin Luther King Lived Here
In the early 1950s, Martin Luther King lived in Boston while he was attending school at Boston University of Theology.
He lived at two locations:
Apartment at 170 Saint Botolph Street, Boston Mass.
Martin Luther King lived on St. Botolph Street for his first semester at Boston University of Divinity. He lived between Albemarle and Blackwood Street. (170 Saint Botolph Street)
397 Massachusetts Ave, Boston Mass.
Next Semester he and a student at Tuffs moved to an apartment nearby on Massachusetts Ave, just beyond the Mass Ave Orange Line station. While living there met his wife Coretta Scott of Alabama. ( 397 Massachusetts Ave)
He received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955.
Note: Both locations are priviate residences.
Map of Back Bay at the Back Bay MBTA Station
While waiting for the commuter rail at any of the seven tracks you will see a map of Boston's Back bay. While some of the maps are showing 'Old Boston Town," there are a few modern maps. I am guessing that the maps are there to help people located various points in the Back Bay.
Maps are Outdated
Commuters waiting for the Framingham/Worcester trains may not pay much attention to the maps in the terminal. They are located in various places along the train tracks. The maps may seem fine, but if you take a close look at the map and you may discover something doesn't look quite right.
Example of some of the Oddity that you may see on the map: (This is the top left section)
- Red Arrow - Part of the the Prudential Mall is missing? Where is Barnes & Noble?
- Green Arrow - Boylston Street doesn't have a road divider.
- Blue Arrow - What about the pedestrian bridge over Huntington Ave?
Looks like the maps are from the Dukakis Administration.
The outdated maps are somewhat useful to get a rough idea where they are to other points in the Back Bay such as Boston Public Gardens and Newbury Street.
However, the maps are outdated. The MBTA can take three courses of action:
- Update all the maps, which may cost a lot of money but are useful for tourists.
- Add a sign to let people know the maps are outdated. (Historic Back Bay in the 1980s)
- Do nothing as nobody really pays attention to the maps.
Finding the Map
You can see the old Boston map between Track 7 and 5 at the Back Bay Commuter rail station.
When you walk into the station from the Dartmouth Street entrance, enter the doors with "South End" and walk by the Dunkin Donuts stand.
Turn left after Dunkin Donuts and go down the stairs where you see "Tracks 5 & 7."
Take a right at the bottom and then another right. Take a short walk along the train tracks.
Walk to the overhead digital clock look to the right and you'll see the classic map.
Robin William Bench
In the movie "Good Will Hunting" there is is a scene where Robin Williams and Matt Damon talk on a bench at the Boston Gardens.
In Boston, this is known as the Robin William's bench. Bostonians placed flowers and other memorabilia on the bench when he died on August 11, 2014.
Good Will Hunting
"Some people think they know everything - yet they UNDERSTAND nothing"
November 11, 2016
Someone doing Yoga on the Robin William's bench at the Boston Public Gardens.
Finding the Robin Williams Bench
Robin Williams park bench is located in the Boston Public Gardens, near the George Washington Statue and the Public Garden's Foot Bridge. There is no marker or indicator that this is Robin William's bench.
- From the George Washington Statue, walk toward the Public Garden Foot Bridge.
- Take a left at the first Path.
- Walk down the path until it connects to another path.
- On your right is the Robin Williams Bench.
There are two markers in the stone at the bench. As your facing the bench and look on the ground:
- On the left: "A place for Barbara and her Pups to pause"
- On the Right: "In Memory of Jeffrey A. Guyer "Breath in hope, breathe out love."