Mystery Boston: Where was it? Hint: Not downtown

Mystery Boston of yore

From the folks at the Boston City Archives. For hints, see it larger.



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      Very good

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      My best guess was Washington street just west of Rozzie Sq looking inbound. Good pick-up on the Burnes Furniture - I thought the store upstairs was separate and searched on Glenwood stoves to no avail.

      No such thing as cheating - plus you get some interesting links when you post them in your solution.

      Glenwood stoves

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      Glenwood was a major brand of stoves and ranges at that time. They were sold everywhere and you often see their billboards on stores that sold them.


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      Brighton Center looking East along Washington Street

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      This is only a guess. The spire in the background looks like the towers fire stations would have to dry hoses. That spire is on the same spot as the currrent police station.

      Also, the width of the intersection looks just like if you were standing in front of the post office looking towards Fowler's / KaBloom.

      Burnes Brothers had a store at

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      1283 Hyde Park Avenue, the only one I could find in Boston proper. It looks quite different now in Google Street View ( ) so I could be way off. I'd guess 1910s to -20s, mostly based on the gentleman's boater hat.

      Revised time estimate

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      The woman on the sidewalk on the left is wearing a dress that would have been completely out of fashion by the 1910s. So definitely not 1920s and more likely 1900s.

      I'm always highly doubtful of

      I'm always highly doubtful of such claims. Unless they were wealthy - and even then - women didn't throw away their wardrobes every five years. Certainly not women walking the streets of Hyde Park. They might have modified them by changing the tailoring, but they generally wore the same dress for many years. Looking back, we see only the fashion elites. During the 1920s, most women were not 'flappers.' I seriously doubt either of my grandmothers ever owned a flapper dress. Both had started families, and were just trying to make ends meet.

      The opposite case would make the argument - if you see a woman wearing a dress that didn't come into fashion until the 1910s, then the photo can't be any earlier than that.

      Sure looks like Cleary Square

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      Sure looks like Cleary Square with the intersection of Hyde Park Ave and River Street dead ahead

      Now that I know I can see it,

      Now that I know I can see it, but I didn't recognize it when I first looked, and I've been driving through there for 40 years. Both buildings on the corner of River st and Hyde Park ave are gone. Clues are the road that drops down at the far left foreground and the curved pavement in front of the school on the far right foreground.

      You are correct, sirs!

      1. The street dropping down behind Burnes Brothers is Pingree Street, which connects to the Commuter Rail station.

      2. The buildings were rebuilt in the '50s, and then again the the early 2000s when they moved the post office. I used to work at the shoe store right next to Burnes' Brothers (Footwear Gallery, then Crown Shoes) before it closed and became a Payless Shoes. Payless then closed and it became a daycare center.

      3. The bingo hall above Burnes' Brothers operated until the late 1990s.

      4. The trolley line in the middle of the street is where the Route 32 now operates. The trolley line didn't have a loop, so it changed ends in the middle of the street. The wide, sweeping curve in the middle of Hyde Park Avenue now is where the trackless trolleys swung around to return to Forest Hills, and those operated until 1958. Currently the area is the layover for Route 32 and Route 50.

      5. River Street had its own trolley route, but most likely it was operated with buses also.

      Now that I think of it, I'm

      Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure that hall upstairs was Burnes Hall. My mother went to Bingo there for years. I never knew where the name came from.

      burnes bros furniture

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      That was my Grandfather Robert Burnes' store!