Sometime in the early 1960s, MIT professor Kevin Lynch mounted a camera on a car and compiled a time-lapse movie of the trip.
The page says 1958, but the movie shows the JFK Building and the Pru tower, which didn't go up until later.
Looks like the JFK building is under construction, and the Pru is missing the spire on top?
Also, the dreaded Bowker overpass is under construction =/
The building was constructed between 1963 and 1966. It looks almost complete. I'll guess this film was done in 1966.
My best guess summer of 1964
You see a Gulf Station with the logo introduced in 1963. JFK building was built between 1963-1966. State Street Bank building also not completed.
Channel 38 built the tower on top of the Pru and they did not sign on until October of 1964 when the tower was installed.
The Citgo sign is still Cities Service and did not become Citgo until 1965.
Or, strictly speaking, 2:58. I incorrectly said "four minutes" in my Facebook post and you picked that up.
The route looks like this: (Additions or corrections are welcome)
Start - Memorial Drive near Mount Auburn Hospital. Stay on it for a while
Left on River Street
Right on Mass. Ave. (Central Square)
Left on Main Street, through Kendall Square, over Longfellow Bridge
Through Charles Circle, Cambridge Street to under-construction Government Center
Tremont Street past Boston Common
Left on Stuart/Kneeland, Left on Atlantic to South Station, right on Summer Street
Summer Street becomes L Street in South Boston, ends at L Street Bathhouse
Right on Day Boulevard along Carson Beach
* Some route I don't quite get to Dorchester Avenue northbound *
Left on West Fourth Street bridge, straight onto Dover Street (now East Berkeley Street)
Go under old elevated Dover Orange Line station
Berkeley Street through Back Bay to end
Left on Storrow Drive
Left through under-construction Bowker interchange to Charlesgate West
Park Drive, Riverway, Jamaicaway, maybe a bit of Arborway
* Some tree-lined route I don't know well, through Brookline, crossing Route 9, to Cleveland Circle *
Chestnut Hill Ave and/or Market Street through Brighton Center
Straight onto Soldiers Field Road
Exit and turn left onto JFK Street, towards Harvard Square
From Day Blvd I think it's the traffic circle @ Old Colony onto Old Colony and then to Dot Ave NB.
I don't really recognize the surroundings, I just moved here a couple months ago, but the turn angles could be right, I definitely see the circle a short time before he's on Dorchester, and its is a short trip, which jives.
Glad I'm not the only nerd who tried to figure out the route! Here's my Google Maps version, including what I think is going on in those leafy parts of Brookline and so forth: http://g.co/maps/qhu35
Now we just need someone to do the 2012 version!
Awesome! One of the things I found cool was how easy it was to figure out where he was at any given moment - huzzah for Boston and its slowly changing ways!
Doing a modern version would be most awesome as well. Would require a camera that could auto-take photos every, what, 4-5 seconds? And, of course, either a dash mount (or duct tape; duct tape would work) or something more Romneyish.
Come on, Adam! Get with the 21st century! Just take a video of the route and then edit the video to pull as many frames as you want from it to give the flipbook/time-lapse effect. :)
I'd love to do a modern re-shoot over the same route, using period equipment. This looks to me like the shooter may have measured out time not by counting it precisely, but by simply advancing and shooting, advancing and shooting, figuring that gives most people about 2-3 seconds between exposure if they leave focus and aperture alone and just shoot at f/16 the whole time.
The shots aren't quite steady enough to make me think a tripod was used, just a rest for the shooter's hands, and there's not enough of the dashboard/hood in view to make me think it was just taped down. Maybe a monopod between the shooter's feet?
This also must have been at least a three person job with two cameras (one driver, one shooter, one loader in the back seat). Figure 24 exposures per second, and a standard 135 cartridge in those days was only 20 exposures long, so each second we see is about one roll of film. Give or take.
I have a pair of Nikon F bodies and matched 35mm lenses if anyone is game to give this a try. All we need is a car, a couple of cases of film and a sunny afternoon. Who's in?
It matches my perception of the route.
I've done a couple of these around town before, e.g. this one and this one, among others.
I like the chance of re-creating this route, but am not sure when I'll get a chance. Maybe I'll pick a sunny day next week and go drive around on my lunch break :-)
Great stuff! I especially liked "Boston highways at night" - the soundtrack is genius.
I agree, based on the comments of others with quicker visual reflexes, that this was probably filmed in 1964, and it's clearly summertime based on the trees. I submitted this theory, with a link to this page, to the MIT Video folks. I wish it was possible to view it at normal speed - I don't know how you managed to catch any of these details! But thanks for posting, Adam - this is a real treat.
Fenway Park- October 1963
The Pru exterior is not complete.
The Patriots did not move into Fenway until 1963 ( BU Field 60-62 )
Actually, I discovered that it is possible to control the speed of the film by using the mouse to drag the progress bar along. It doesn't capture every frame, but it's definitely easier to see what's going on.
Using the pause button, I spotted at least one 1965 car that I'm certain about; back then there were more distinctive changes from one model year to the next, and I've spent my whole life learning and knowing them. It's a blue Ford and it appears in front of the camera car around the 2:27 mark. But given it's the only one, it would suggest some time around late summer of 1964, when cars for the next model year would start to appear.
I too wish this was slower. Last week on the NY Times's City Room blog there was a post of a video taken in 1968, the camera was moved up Broadway on a dolly, but the footage goes by so quickly it's very difficult to spot anything. Someone slowed down the video and posted it on YouTube, which was helpful.
I was trying to do the same thing! At about the 0:29 second mark I'm pretty sure a 1963 Chevy Impala's tail lights come into the frame.
I did my best and was able to follow the neighborhoods and generally know which road he was on. But catching date meaningful landmarks was beyond me.
At 1:28 on Old Colony Ave you see a CITGO station - but all the CITGO websites indicate the change happened in 1965.
At 1:49 you do see the CITIES SERVICE sign as he exits Storrow.
At 1:58 the VW clearly has a brown 1964 Mass license plate ( but no 65 plate was issued.
But given that the TV tower on top of the Pru was up in late 1964 - the CITGO on Old Colony Ave must have been one of the first to get the new signs.
Channel 38 went on the air October 12, 1964, as WIHS-TV, licensed to the Boston Catholic Television Center. WIHS-TV operated for two years as a religious broadcaster, transmitting from the new Prudential Tower in the Back Bay
If someone really wants to nail when this was done - simply try to read one of the theater marques on Tremont St - my laptop screen is not big enough to read what is playing at the Astor.
Good eye catching that CITGO gas station - I missed that. I'm wondering now if part of the film was made in 1964 and the other part in 1965.
It also seems to shift several times between black & white and color.
Here's a still I grabbed from the stream of the Astor marquee:
Using the Mac's Preview to enlarge doesn't yield more detail unfortunately. In fact the writing becomes more blurred. There is a graphic of an outstretched arm pointing, with words below it. The first line ends with what looks to me like ... A' S. That's about all I can make out. Probably the key to identifying what's playing is identifying the graphic.
That pedestrians still crossed where ever they wanted. That has certainly not changed!
Check out his book, The Image of the City.
I was just amazed it is to find a parking spot!
You need either a Jag, Bentley, or Rolls...
Otherwise, where else are you gonna get a hood ornament in your shot these days? :)
I can't even tell you went the Astor went dark. Further down Tremont was the Sack Savoy - which is the Emerson Majestic today. Was the Astor torn down when Tremont On The Common was built?
Torn down in 1983, replaced by the Loews Boston Common multiplex.
It is indeed on the site of the former Astor, but that was a vacant lot for many years after the Astor was torn down.
and is now called the Opera House. (It was the B.F. Keith Memorial when it opened.)
Back in the Savoy days, it had a second marquee and entrance onto Tremont Street, a block north of the Astor. Unfortunately, I can't see this in the Lynch film.
The Sack Saxon is now the Cutler Majestic (and was originally built as the Majestic). Again, the Lynch route goes by this theatre but I can't see the marquee at all in the film.
The Lynch route goes by one other theatre - the old Beacon Hill on Tremont just north of Beacon. But again, I can't see it in the film.
Lynch turned left onto Stuart/Kneeland Street, so we don't get to see the Music Hall (now Wang), Wilbur, or Shubert.
The Gary, which I recall is where the Transportation Building is now.
Fascinating, but can you post it again in real time? The video is high quality, but the speed makes it difficult to assess the whereabouts for the travelers. I'm not a video gamer, so maybe I'm just too old to appreciate the quick action. Thank-you for finding this.
Was the Astor open until 1983?
My dim recollection is back in the 60's the same movie would be there for months.
The building was demolished in 1983, but I believe the Astor itself had closed a few years earlier. It is a little known fact, but for a short while after the theater closed it became a gay juice bar. I can't remember what it was called, but it was very short lived. After the drinking age was raised back up from 18 in 1979 by then-governor Ed King, "juice bars" sprang up to try to pick up the slack, but this trend never really caught on. Likely there was not enough money in it.
Not Adam, who just linked to it on MIT's website.
If you click inside the player once you have it playing, then you can use the space bar to quickly start & stop the player. I found that if you double-tap your spacebar while it is paused, then you'll get only 1 or 2 frames before it pauses again turning it into something closer to a slide viewer than a movie. You could try slowing it down yourself this way.
the pru wasant opened until april 1965