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Old 09-25-2010, 03:20 PM   #1
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Hawley Street, then and now

Well, this post was going to be more interesting but I couldn't find the photos I needed.

Anyway, today I was at a showing with a client and the owner of the condo had a fantastic poster on the wall of a "then and then and now". I could only take time to snap one photo and it came out terribly. When I got home, I tried to find the location of the photo based on the buildings in the background. I finally figured out the angle but I couldn't find any of the three photos as they appeared in the poster.

So, here's a 'bad' then of Hawley Street and then two of today; one is by tobyjug from an earlier posting and one is from the Internet.

If you can find photos of that building (it's 40 Federal Street, I believe) please post.

The interesting thing is, as far as I can tell, the building on the left was originally designed as it appears, today. Only in mid-century 1900's did the ugly facade get put on it. A wise person remembered or discovered what hid beneath and unsheathed it.

Below the photos is a bit of history on Hawley Street. It's an historic street in Boston. It was first laid out in the 1600's and originally called "Bishop's Alley".

By the 1700's, it was known as Hawley Street. Below, you can see the layout of the streets in 1723. In 1810, a fire in the neighborhood burned down a house where Ben Franklin once lived. Perhaps this is why the map from 1840 shows a new road, "Franklin Place".

Sometime in the early/mid 1870's, the blocks were reconfigured (perhaps due to the fire of 1872?). I think they were laid out as they appear today.

Last edited by JohnAKeith; 09-25-2010 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 09-25-2010, 04:17 PM   #2
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Re: Hawley Street, then and now

I wonder how many beautiful facades in Boston are still hiding under junk covering like this.
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Old 09-25-2010, 04:35 PM   #3
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Re: Hawley Street, then and now

Well, to amuse myself I took a longer look at Franklin Street. Here are some images of Franklin Street between Hawley Street and Devonshire Street from different time periods.

First up, Franklin Street after the Great Fire of 1872.

Below that, an image of Franklin Street. The caption says, "before the Fire" but the buildings look to be very similar to how they are, today, and I don't think the original buildings were reconstructed to look exactly the same. I think the caption is wrong!

However, the image following is of a parade in 1876. The buildings look totally different - either these were actually buildings from before the fire or perhaps this is an entirely-different block, I don't know. The curve of the street matches the others.

Following that are several photos of this stretch of Franklin Street up and down. At some point the buildings on the northern side got a haircut. They are all now four stories high whereas they are five in the historical photos. The ones on the southern side had their dormers built out at some point and a few of the buildings have been replaced or facaded, including the building where Catholic Charities is / used to be.

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Old 10-12-2010, 09:00 AM   #4
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Re: Hawley Street, then and now

Great pics...but missing the earliest ones of the Tontine Crescent and Franklin Place designed by Charles Bulfinch. The Crescent was centered on Arch Street, which cut through the building as a passage for carriages. You can see the design for this arch and central pavillion at the Kirstein Branch Library (now closed) on the alley next to Old City Hall. The designers of the library lifted Bulfinch's design directly. The front window is where the arch would have been.

Across from the Tontine Crescent was a set of 4? large town homes separated by gardens and fronting a small square with trees and a large Urn commemorating Franklin. The stone urn is now in Mt. Auburn cemetery, I believe, commemorating someone else (this is all from the top of my head, so someone more astute can fill in the blanks!). Down the street from the Crescent was the original Holy Cross Cathedral also designed by Bulfinch, who also designed the Boston Theatre further down and across the street.

When the Tontine scheme failed for Bulfiinch, and he went bankrupt, the area moved fairly quickly into commercial property. Everything on both sides of Franklin St. was replaced by pre-Fire structures, but the curve and width of the street remained. The park is shown to have survived for a number of years.

After the Fire of 1872 the area was rebuilt along the same street pattern, and then again, time took most of these buildings and they were replaced by what is seen today.

Arch St., considerably widened, remains, as does the curve of Franklin St. I don't believe Franklin lived here. He was born on Milk Street, but moved to Philadelphia fairly early in his career. The area was named after him most likely in the Federal period as a post-Revolution honor to his work for the country. His parents are buried in Old Granary Burial ground under the obelisk in the middle of the cemetery.
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hawley st., photography, then and now

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