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Mystery Boston scene

When and where was this photo in the collection of the Boston City Archives taken? See it larger.



Free tagging: 


    This must be a trick question

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    Not 595 and 599 main street (where the Teamsters Local 25 building is today?)

    As for time - I'll guess 1900 - cobblestone streets, trolleys and all three men I see in the picture are wearing bowlers.

    Not Medford

    That part of Main St. in Medford is much more sloped than this.

    This is where the Teamster's Union Local 25 is now - near where Medford St. hits Main and the Rotary in Charlestown.

    This could also be where the rotary is now, too.

    The area was apparently made-over in the mid-1920s with the Schrafft's building going in across the street and the Local 25 building going up around that time, too.

    Charlestown it is

    Yep, it's Charlestown. There are logos on the front of Feely's for Van Nostrand's Lager, which match the logo on the top of the building in the background - looks like that was the brewery. The Bunker Hill Brewery at 40 Alford Street was founded in 1821 (!) and lasted until 1918.

    Presuming this is 599 Main St

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    Presuming this is 599 Main St in Charlestown, it would make sense that Felly may have paid taxes to Somerville, since 1) Somerville and Charlestown were once the same thing, and 2) Feely may have had another building next door in Somerville for which he had to pay taxes.


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    You stupid b------, I can't f-----' believe you. Now, you're gonna dig the f----' thing now. You're gonna dig the hole. You're gonna do it. I got no f------' lime. You're gonna do it.

    jimmy conway

    Sullivan Square

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    This would be sometime in the 1890s, on the site where the Sullivan Square Elevated Terminal opened in 1901. The site is now used by the MBTA as a bus parking lot.

    The 1892 Bromley Atlas of Charlestown shows two wooden buildings on the site. The one on the right, #595, was owned by the heirs of John Carver; the one on the left, #599, was owned by the heirs of Margaret Quinlan. Obviously Hadley and Feeley were tenants. To the left of Feeley's bar was Babcock Court, a dead-end street. The wooden buildings in the background were owned by Herbert Daly and faced on Babcock Court; behind them were some buildings of the West End Street Railway, which operated Boston's streetcar system at that time. The cupola may have been on one of the West End buildings but probably was on the Crystal Lake Brewery which faced onto Alford Street, a block or so away.

    All the buildings in the foreground were demolished to make way for the Sullivan Square Terminal, which in turn closed in 1975 and was demolished later in the 1970s. The brewery site is also now owned by the T and is occupied by a nondescript one-story industrial building.

    Unfortunately the only copy of the 1892 Bromley Atlas I can find on the web is through the BRA's "Boston Atlas" site []. That site is open to the public, but it's difficult to browse unless you know how do do it.

    The key to tracking this down is that the image was posted by the Boston City Archives, meaning that it wouldn't be in Medford or Cambridge (which also has a Main Street).

    Middle of what is now the rotary?

    Not that google maps is any guide, but this would probably be where main street cut through where the rotary is now if 40 Alford was behind it like that.

    UPDATE: Oh what a glorious wast of time that Boston Atlas system is! It isn't all that tricky to figure out if you have had some GIS experience, and I could lose hours in that!

    You are correct as to the location - the left hand building in the 1892 Charlestown map set is on the corner of Babcock Court and Main. West and Alford complete that block. It looks like Babcock court was obliterated with the train station, and Beacham punched through to main. The photo has to be before 1912, as the 1912 map has a T station here.

    Now I have to wonder: how did Schraffts get a big grab of parkland for their building in 1928?

    That Varnish Factory on Alford between West and the bridge still stands, too. Also, the building at Main and Dorrance was there in 1892 - it is pretty beat up now (used to ride by it daily), and the adjacent square is random industrial use.

    And here I thought the West End got obliterated. Sullivan Square was totally wasted! Here it is after these buildings were torn down for the train station:

    And before:

    West of the rotary

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    The City Archives Mystery Photo view was taken west of where the rotary is today -- on the section of street that's one-way towards Somerville. And we're looking north towards the Mystic River. Here's the view today:

    In Swirly's "before" photo, look closely at the building in left center, just above the trolley car at left. That's clearly the same building that has John Feely & Co.'s tavern in the Archives photo.

    The elevated station (in Swirly's "after" photo) opened in 1901. The Archives photo may well have been taken by the Boston Elevated Railway before they started construction, to document what was there beforehand. They took tons of those photos, and they're in several libraries. I wouldn't be surprised is the City Archives has a set as well.

    Current use

    This isn't where the T stores buses, BTW. This is currently a vacant lot where there are piles and piles of pipes being overgrown by weeds.

    Check out the corner of Alford and Main in google maps:

    Babcock Ct. is no longer through this parcel, and Beacham has been put through all the way to Main (it formerly dead ended/started at West. Beacham is were the T buses are stored.

    You're right

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    I was looking at an old aerial (satellite) view on the Boston Atlas; it showed the lot as full of buses maybe 10 years ago. As you say, more recent views show it as weed-grown storage of pipes and maybe some tires as well.

    Babcock Court went away when they built the elevated station in 1901.

    Across the street -- on the south side of Main Street, behind the photographer in the Archives Mystry Photo -- was a beautiful park which shows in Swirly's earlier "before" and "after" photos. It's now a parking lot (between Maffa Way and Main St.). I think the park got done in when they built the overpass that used to be there, probably in the 1950s.

    Street numbers

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    I challenge that this is anywhere in the greater Boston area. The buildings shown have large, easily readable, street numbers. Therefore they CANNOT be local.

    (Or was there some big program during WWII to hid all street numbers so german subs would be unable to find specific addresses?)