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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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Various fun facts about places and things around Boston, Massachusetts.


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