When trolleys roamed the earth

Old street scene in Boston

Can you figure out where and when this photo was taken? See it much larger. From the Boston City Archives, natch.



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    You mean it's not Roslindale Square?

    East Boston, Meridian Street

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    East Boston, Meridian Street at Condor looking into Chelsea.

    Northern Avenue?

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    This might be a terrible guess but - Northern Avenue coming from Fort Point towards Downtown?

    Seconding that

    It could be where Traveler/Broadway came across the Fort Point Channel. Other bodies of water aren't that narrow. The tower is similar to one in that area (cyclorama??), too.

    this is a shot in the dark

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    this is a shot in the dark but is it on tremont street near church street at the edge of bay village, facing SW looking across the rail line into the south end?


    Not Huntington at all. I looked at the high res version. The road ahead is a bridge.


    The poster on the left is for the opening of The Pearl and The Pumpkin at the Colonial, which opened July 17,1905.


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    The signs are for Colonial Theatre (which is on Boylston on the Common) and for something on Tremont, so I would guess it was taken somewhere near the Common... but I can't place it more specifically. Was there an above-ground trolley between Park St and Boylston?

    The Colonial Theatre sign is talking about a July performance of "The Pearl and the Pumpkin" which took place July 17, 1905, so at least I have the when! Date from Google Books:


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    There is a round building in the distance that could be the cyclorama - so I'm guessing maybe Tremont from the theater district looking toward it or South end cross street looking toward Back Bay? Having a hard time figuring out the angle though best guess is looking south on East Berkeley if that's the cyclorama - there is a hill in the back left over those theater and beer signs - could be mission hill - but that seems to be too close.

    There is another building kind of center left that has a tall white cupola - but other than that not very distinctive - probably not there today?

    Meridian at Condor St East

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    Meridian at Condor St East Boston, looking toward the bridge and Chelsea.

    Pretty sure this is it. You

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    Pretty sure this is it. You can see the old shipyard my grandfather worked at to the left. The salt pile is now on the other side of the bridge to the right.


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    The book Boston's Bridges shows later (than 1905) photos on page 78 and 79 of the scene that has the same domed building in the far background.

    Doesn't the expanse look too small?

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    The bridge from East Boston to Chelsea is much longer than the one in this picture though. Buuut you can make out an EAS (short for East Boston?) on the side of one of the lower buildings on the right.

    Why would the bridge have been so much shorter back then? Was this entrance to the Chelsea River greatly expanded to accommodate larger modern freighters?

    The actual span over water

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    The actual span over water starts just past the horse and buggy. Perhaps the metal structure in the distance is a drawbridge that moves to let taller ships through.

    theres no question that this is the location

    The building closest on the right with the weird mansard-ish roof and second story cantilvered bay window is extant in google maps street view with a beautiful yellow vinyl siding that adds period detail. The building closer to the bridge on the right had a strange brick facade added.

    Every time I take the bus

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    Every time I take the bus down Meridian I think of how nice it must have been 50+ years ago. The further away from the square the better the street gets IMO, but you're right, vinyl siding may have been the death-knell to Eastie architecture. So many historical brownstones and triple-deckers. I lived in one on Jeffries Point for a year and loved the neighborhood. Everyone always forgets Eastie. Ugh.

    Now I gotcha...

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    I see that on Google Street View as well. The triple decker on the right that presently has the faux-brick, asbestos shingling is shaped differently than in the older picture. They have squared off the rounded corners facing Meridian Street for some reason.

    Looks like an addition

    Seems that they built a porch on that side and filled it in OR, when the road moved when the most recent bridge was built, they stuck a rectangular addition on that goes to what was once the street line or even beyond.

    Changed building

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    So I can recognize the building on the immediate right, but is that a different building on the other side of the street now? (The triple decker one with the red facade). Zillow claims it was built in 1910

    Either that, or the building

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    Either that, or the building was completely gutted and additions were put on at that point. That, or they shoved a building in an alleyway. Not going to doubt that, it is Boston.

    Mystic River movie

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    Incidentally, many of the important scenes in the movie mystic river were filmed right around the corner on Condor street. See, for instance, the red triple decker which shows up in this trailer, seen from condor street rather than meridian.


    The Answer

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    This is Meridian Street at Condor Street, taken June 5, 1905. We think it was likely taken by the city's Wire Dept. Thanks for guessing, everyone!