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Old 04-21-2010, 09:16 PM   #1
JohnAKeith
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Boston in the 1960's

A series of photos from the book 'Boston: Portrait of a City' photographs by Katharine Knowles and text by Walter Muir Whitehill, 1964, Barre Publishers.



St Paul's Cathedral, facing Boston Common on Tremont Street



The tea kettle (2nd one, I believe) on Court Street



View from "T Wharf" - I don't know where this is



I'm going to try to find this view, tomorrow, to see how it looks, current day



I'm going to try to find this tree, tomorrow, to see how it looks, current day



The caption says "The North End from across a concrete barrier" but I"m not sure the location



Corner of Park and Tremont streets facing what is now the Suffolk School of Law



Oh, no, how'd they get on Beacon Hill???

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Old 04-21-2010, 09:23 PM   #2
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Re: Boston in the 1960's



King's Chapel and the Parker House (with Fanny Farmer candies on the first floor



Copley Square toward the Trinity Church - from the looks of it, from the Green Line station but it looks as if Dartmouth Street was reversed?



Faneuil Hall with the old rotary - Hi, Sam Adams! (Wait, or is it John Winthrop?)



Willow Street toward Charles Street, the Charles River, and Cambridge



View of Tower of Copley Methodist Episcopal Church (?) with New Old South Church in background



Odd view of Boston Common



Brattle Book Shop in Sears Crescent on Cornhill Street



6 Commonwealth Ave, torn down for Carlton House



Steps that led to the Blue Ship Tea Room on T Wharf (?)
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:29 PM   #3
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

ILL!!! Love this stuff. T Wharf is off Long Wharf, it is shaped like a "T" hence the name. Google Map it. That concrete thing is, I think, on Copp's Hill playground.

Edit: So T Wharf doesn't seem to exist anymore, eaten up by the Marriott Long Wharf no doubt.

Also here is the streetview of the concrete thing: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&...195.74,,0,4.25
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Old 04-22-2010, 08:34 AM   #4
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

T Wharf was was north of and parallel to Long Wharf. Originally it was wholly separate, eventually the gap between them was filled to about the halfway point (where Marriott Long Wharf is now). As I understand it, it was removed in the 70s or 80s, I always assumed it was probably done in tandem with the construction of Columbus Park and/or the Hotel, but that's just a hunch. The Blue Ship Tearoom was a landmark and tourist attraction, and according to my brother, the attorney, it was part of a landmark legal case, something involving a bit of clamshell in chowder, that is still utilized as a precedent today.



I think that Beech Tree is still in the garden, at least there are still some ancient beeches around the pond, I'd be interested to see your updated photos.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:24 AM   #5
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

So the concrete thing is the entrance to the Brink's Garage, interesting. I thought it looked familiar.
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Old 04-22-2010, 12:11 PM   #6
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

Thanks for sharing these! Some of them look older than the 1960's. I love the T-Wharf picture.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:00 PM   #7
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

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Oh man that is an old pic, the Atlantic Ave el is still running!
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:12 PM   #8
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

Now, THAT ^ was a city.

If they could have kept that fabric, and added high rises to it instead of carpet bombing square miles of it into barren plazas and lawns, what a different city we would now have.
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:30 PM   #9
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

It's easy to say that now when we don't see the economically depressed sleaze pit that downtown Boston was back then.

Everything looks great in black and white pictures.
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:31 PM   #10
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

I'd say downtown Boston was much less depressed then, as it was full of busy department stores and movie theatres.
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:54 AM   #11
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

There is a difference between an active retail strip and a general malaise in the overall economy. New Boston didn't happen because the city was doing really well, it was a shot in the arm that brought the city back from obscurity. Unfortunately it also destroyed many neighborhoods that would have made the city an even richer place today.
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:50 AM   #12
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

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Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
There is a difference between an active retail strip and a general malaise in the overall economy. New Boston didn't happen because the city was doing really well, it was a shot in the arm that brought the city back from obscurity. Unfortunately it also destroyed many neighborhoods that would have made the city an even richer place today.
This brings up an interesting point I've always wondered about.

Let's simplify things a bit. Say there were two ways to 'save' the city in the 1960's. Gut Renovation or Restoration.

The West End used the Renovation method while the North End used the Restoration method. Would the Restoration method have worked city-wide? While we all perfer a restored West End to what we have now, would the city have bounced back as fully as it did with Government Center?

Obviously there are lots of mitigating factors involved (i.e the West End didn't have the ethic cohesion the North End relied on), but I've always wondered if it could have worked out that way.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:31 AM   #13
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

The only way you can convince me that what you're calling "gut renovation" had any positive impact is if we can show that gut-renovated areas have added value to Boston and allowed the city to "bounce back." To take the example of the West End, I'd say that CRP and GC have absolutely not played a role. However, MGH probably has. Still, I'd say it's a net negative.

In my mind, Boston's success is enabled by (not necessarily based around) primarily two factors: 1) innovation, which primarily seems to happen in Cambridge, and 2) close-in and transit-accessible affluent suburbs.

Whether you agree with those two points or not, or whether or not you'd add more into the mix, my point is that what's enabled Boston's success has more to do with the regional mix than with any individual development project in the city itself.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:48 AM   #14
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

The 'gut renovation' of Kendall Square (from a dying and nearly vacant industrial area to a high-tech office park) was a net positive, despite the area's flaws as an urban district. That's Cambridge, not Boston, but still a relevant example.

The Christian Science Center might be an interesting example to study. Gain: a beautiful urban space that people enjoy seeing and walking around in. Losses: tax revenue (as CS church is a tax-exempt nonprofit); blocks of a residential urban neighborhood (East Fenway); several old theatres (Uptown, Strand, Loew's State, Fine Arts) that could have been kept around and reused.

The Prudential Center doesn't fit the 'gut renovation' category very well because Mechanics Hall was the only significant building demolished to make way for the Pru.

Some of the demolitions intended to make way for I-95 instead resulted in expansion of Northeastern University's campus. That's a net positive, but quite unintended.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:51 AM   #15
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

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Originally Posted by Shepard View Post
In my mind, Boston's success is enabled by (not necessarily based around) primarily two factors: 1) innovation, which primarily seems to happen in Cambridge, and 2) close-in and transit-accessible affluent suburbs.
I agree, but from what I understand* Boston in the 50's & 60's was a fairly moribund place (akin to the Detroit of today). Cambridge was home to MIT & Harvard long before the 1950's and the close-in & affluent suburbs were transit accessible as well, yet Boston still teetered on the brink of failure. So something sparked a change in the 60's. I've heard people credit it to the "New Boston" mentality born in the 60's with Government Center being the physical manifestation of that ideal.

The question, I guess is whether or not Boston really needed such a massive physical overhaul in order to start a more important psychological one.

*This was well before I was born, but I've read a few accounts of the squalor of the old West End. Oddly enough, most pictures I've seen from this era don't seem to support these stories. Maybe you just 'had to be there'.

Edit: A quote from ablarc's epic Medieval Boston thread on Cyburbia (and in turn is a quote from a member of the old SSG forum):

Quote:
Being born in1929 it brought back many memories. Some good and some bad. I left Boston in 1950 thinking Boston was an old, dirty and corrupt city (AKA Curley) with no future. I was right for the time. Scolly Sq. with its tattoo places, burlesque houses, taverns, prostitutes and drunken sailors made me ashamed of the city. It made the combat zone of the 1970?s look like a haven. I remember Atlantic Ave .with its El. as an old street with nothing very attractive. Full of horse crap (as was Washington Street) along with all the freight cars in the middle of the street. I often remember riding the El with my Mom as a young boy. The only thing I remember with any fondness at the time was arriving at South Station and seeing the trains. Quincy market (see picture) was a dirty mess with lots of flies and more horse crap and garbage. The old cobble stone streets were impossible to walk on for any women with high heels and very dirty and difficult to clean. (Again look hard at some of the photos)

?There wasnt much worth saving. I guess you had to live it to understand. Im glad much of it is gone?

Today Boston has changed and is a new and great city. All of the above is gone and I am happy to see it that way despite the criticism I see sometimes see on this form. Scolly Sq is gone. Atlantic Ave should be renamed something like Great Atlantic Ave. Quincy Market is a delight. Yet much of the old worth saving has been saved and I love it.
Although I have not lived in Boston for many year I have often visited the city and marvel at the great changes. I would move back but can?t handle the weather at my seventy-four years. Yet I never hesitate to brag on it. I now live in San Antonio TX and it is worth bragging on but so is Boston. Remember to do it. ?pwsmith

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Old 04-23-2010, 11:04 AM   #16
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

I wasn't there either, but my gut feeling on this is that the 50s were a bad time for American cities generally. Veterans coming back from war, wanting a picket white fence, a car or two, a slice of suburbia... Can you blame them? The West End was not the place to be. The South End was not the place to be. The North End was a little bit of a better place to be, if you were Italian.

The paradigm of destroy and rebuild seems to me to have been psychologically learned from the ashes of the war. London - bombed and rebuilt. Dresden, Warsaw, Hiroshima... these were the working models.

As Ron mentioned, there were many places around Boston that housed underused industrially-oriented uses - Prudential and Kendall are great examples. It probably would have been enough to build up these places. But for some reason the "shot in the arm" necessitated tearing down working neighborhoods. And thus begins the BRA philosophy: start from first principles based on what "should" work instead of looking at what we have and assessing what does work.
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Old 08-23-2010, 01:40 AM   #17
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

It's not much but I call it home.

I found a couple of excellent things while researching the South End Urban Renewal plans from the 1960's.



The first image is a map of the South End circa 1962, courtesy of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The second image is a map of the South End circa 2006, courtesy of Google.

In the 1962 map,"Shaded areas [are] considered by Cap't Mahoney (Boston Police Department) as worst areas in South End for crime and vice".

A: In the top middle area of the first map there's a big shaded blob, located between Tremont Street to the left, Albany Street to the top, Shawmut Ave to the right, and Dover (now, East Berkeley) Street to the bottom. During that time, there were multi-family homes on narrow city streets in this area. These were filled with "Houses of Prostitution" according to the Captain. In the middle of the blob, people went to "Meet the 'Girl' (or is it 'Gent'?)"

B: Diagonally from this is another blob. These were also "Houses of Prostitution" and "Derelicts". Something else, too, but I can't figure out what it says - Nilolies??

If you trace around the top border to the left you eventually come to the left side of the map. At the upper left corner, you're looking at Dartmouth Street coming in from the Back Bay where it hits Columbus Ave.

C: Right next to that you see a darkened, narrow tube running down much of Columbus Ave toward Massachusetts Ave. Toward the end, you see two dark balls to either side of the street. A block behind that is where you hit Massachusetts Ave.

This large and dark phallus goes all the way down Columbus Ave. The police department said that this area was rife with "Major Problem Bars". Not so much the side streets, perhaps, not West Canton or Braddock or Claremont Park or Wellington, but the buildings facing Columbus Ave on both sides.

D: The smaller phallus seems to be covering Tremont Street's off-streets such as Rutland Square and Concord Square and W Concord Street and Rutland Street and West Newton Street. Here, the problem was "Dope Peddling".

E: The last major crime and vice area was below this, to the other side of Massachusetts Ave, in Lower Roxbury, heading on to Dudley Square. Here, "Prostitutes to be picked up in cars - Meet in Castle Square".

So, current day, things are quite different. Based on what I've read or guessed:

A: This blob (hundreds of buildings) was torn down and became a massive public housing project known as Castle Square. It also has a second component, I believe, an elderly housing apartment complex.

B: The second, smaller blob was a series of buildings facing Dover Street (now, East Berkeley Street) and part of Shawmut Ave. It's possible it included what's now Peter's Park - for many years it was an abandoned lot (as was the lot across the street). It's possible the park came about as a result of the urban renewal plan. Several buildings on that end of Shawmut Ave were torn down while new buildings went up on empty lots.

C: The two sides of Columbus Ave going all the way down from Dartmouth Street to Massachusetts Ave shows trouble. There were plenty of problem bars on these blocks. It appears they tore all the old buildings down and replaced them with monolithic 12-story public-subsidized apartment complexes that went up every couple of streets.

D: The drug peddling on West Springfield and Worcester Street got cleaned up by opening a public school on Worcester Street and by adding public housing to W Newton Street and Rutland Street and reinvigorating the United South End Settlements organization.

E: The Girls waiting to get picked up to be driven to Castle Square I don't know about. I estimate the location to be the site of what is now the CVS (what was Liquor Land). These could have been built after residential housing was torn down or maybe it was just a place to hang out, in the taverns and clubs in that corner of the neighborhood. Much of that area is still kind of wiped out - perhaps what was ever there was just never built.

The third document is a page from the South End Urban Renewal plan discussing plans to relocate many residents of the South End - over 5,100 people will be displaced. They've revised the estimate to be below 20% of the population.

These people need to be relocated because the housing they live in is poorly-constructed and maintained and in danger of falling apart and, in many cases, are inhabited by many more people than they were built for. Many of those who will be relocated will remain somewhere in the city of Boston, just in other neighborhoods, while some may make it back into some of the newly constructed buildings, many of which will be designated as "affordable housing".


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Old 08-23-2010, 06:24 PM   #18
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

Almost done.

Two pages from a Boston Redevelopment Authority report on downtown Boston development proposals, issued sometime during the 1960's.

The first discusses a Howard Johnsons at 500 Boylston Street with a status of "Completed". Huh?



The second discusses the Harbor Towers at 65-85 East India Row. It states that towers I and II are "Completed" but that III is "Incomplete".

There was a proposal for a third tower?

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Old 08-23-2010, 06:36 PM   #19
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

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The second discusses the Harbor Towers at 65-85 East India Row. It states that towers I and II are "Completed" but that III is "Incomplete".

There was a proposal for a third tower?
I've heard this before, but never seen an actual rendering. I recall someone saying it was to be 70 stories.

Edit: Wikipedia says a third tower of 40 stories was not built.
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:01 PM   #20
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Re: Boston in the 1960's

Yes there was discussion back in the 1960s of a third tower, which would have been located on what a portion of the site that is now Rowes Wharf. The original HT developer tried to buy the site from the BRA but by the time the 2 original Harbor Towers were up, the BRA realized that more towers on the waterfront were a bad idea (and they still think so, correctly) and instead sponsored the development of Rowes Wharf. That's why it's hilarious that anyone would think that the city's position on the Harbor Garage proposal has anything to do with a personality clash between the developer and the mayor....the BRA has been an opponent of towers on the water ever since Harbor Towers were first built in the 1970s. Hey, at least they're consistent!
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