Unpacking the crate Faneuil Hall came in

Not yet City Hall

The Boston City Archives have posted a collection of photos related to the creation of Government Center in the mid-1960s, including some of the demolition of buildings in old Scollay Square. As you can see above, the JFK building went up faster than City Hall. Below, look at how you used to be able to drive right up to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market:

Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

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"JFK...went up faster"

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And... nothing from the UH community? Adam, we've failed you.

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you know what would be amazing?

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Raise your hand if you'd vote for a mayor who pledged to pull up most of the bricks around city hall and plant trees and grass.

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Dewey Deux

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Yes! And so many bricks are loose anyways, which makes it really inhospitable to wheelchair users. More trees, more grass, more food trucks, more public art - make it more like Dewey.

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Again with the "green space"

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I see the "more trees and grass, green space at all cost, everything must be a park" people are out. Why does there need to be trees and grass in Government Center? Two blocks away in one direction you've got Boston Common and Public Garden, with all the trees and grass you could want. A few blocks in the other direction you've got the Esplanade, awash in trees and grass. The "more green space" people will not rest until the entire city resembles one big green leafy suburb or forest.

As for Dewey Square, it's not that great. How come nobody ever comments about that vast, uninviting expanse of brick surrounding the Federal Reserve Building? It's far more foreboding and inhospitable than City Hall Plaza ever was.

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Grass would be fine!

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All of that brick is just hideous. Grass, marigolds, I really don't care. Just...not that awful brick.

Plus, dirt would absorb all of the urine from the people leaving the Fanueil Hall bars way better than the cement does.

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Green space is better than

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Green space is better than the current barren brick plaza which is hotter than hell sauna in the summer and a windswept icy deathtrap in the winter.

The city should fight the feds to reopen Hanover Street across the plaza to Cambridge Street and remove the brick on the southwestern part of the plaza. Either soften the landscape similarly to what was done in Copley Square or the proposed changes to the Christian Science Plaza or put some low-rise buildings around city hall to create small intimate spaces similar to the Blackstone block.

It is an embarrassment that with all the architecture, landscape, and planing schools and firms in the metro-Boston area that the city routinely accepts mediocrity or stupidly adopts rapidly depreciating academic fads which the general public immediately loathes. Boston quickly makes mistakes in the name of progress and then slowly takes decades to correct them.

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Spoken like someone who has

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Spoken like someone who has never actually gotten out of their car and walked around the moonscape that is Governemnt Center plaza.

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A-frickin'men. It might cost

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A-frickin'men.

It might cost a lot of money to make real Mumbles' dream of replacing city hall, but holy frack, it would be worth it over the long run.

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Alles klar?

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I'm spending a week or so in the old DDR. Touring through Halle (near Dessau) yesterday, I was struck by how much the socialists' Plattenbauten resemble everything built by Americans in the 1960s. And, actually, Halle Neustadt is much better than City Hall Plaza. At least in the summer....

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Extra Credit Assignment

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Identify the bank advertising on the billboard immediately to the left of the Faneuil Hall cupola?

Hint: Sometimes the used to refer to the original peninsula that became Boston.

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Shawmut Bank

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Shawmut Bank and the one to the right , Seven and Seven........

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Faneuil Hall in the 60s & 70s

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And that's basically what Faneuil Hall looked like in the 60s and 70s, folks. I remember it well. There really wasn't a whole lot going on there. It's funny how some tourists think the cobblestones installed there in the early 80s, when they developed the area for tourism, are actually ye olde cobblestones trod upon by Sam Adams and other illustrious patriots.

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City Hall is Beautiful

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You need to learn to appreciate Brutalist architecture.
Some of the cities best buildings are all in the Brutalist style.

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similar tale

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Some of my best ex-girlfriends were in the Brutalist style.

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The damn unwashed mashes need

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The damn unwashed mashes need to be sent to reeducation camps. They are just too stupid to understand that the ugly building is beautiful and that something which doesn't work is genius!

Corbusier and the Bahaus were to architecture what Pol Pot and Marx were to social reform. A hatchet job to destroy the old older, erase history, and institute a replacement which never quite worked, but still has a massive following and apologist cohort in academia.

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Well a lot of Bauhaus ideas

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Well a lot of Bauhaus ideas that were put into practice are now world renowned buildings. I take it you aren't much of a Frank Lloyd Wright fan? The thing about architecture, in my opinion, is that style and functionality get to come together and create something that not only is aesthetically pleasing, but also does it's function seamlessly. The interior of City Hall is quite the mess, but the exterior has a lot of interesting aspects to it. Would I like a better building there to utilize the space the plaza has? Absolutely. But I wouldn't have a problem with a Gehry building..

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"a lot of Bauhaus ideas that

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"a lot of Bauhaus ideas that were put into practice are now world renowned buildings"

World Renown amongst the intelligentsia while quite reviled by and dysfunctional to their everyday users.

FLW was the ANTI-Corbusier and Bauhaus. Despite his love for low density suburban type development he was not the semi-fascist anti-urban monster Corbusier was. The weird cult following he set up was a bit different from the Bauhaus in that it didn't seek to erase history or ornament. If it weren't for Gropius and Corbusier infiltrating academia at just the right time to destroy all competing schools of thought -FLW would have had more influence on contemporary architecture in the US/world for the better. "Modern" buildings in the US were the Art-Moderne and Art Deco styles which were functional and the public LOVED. It wasn't until Corbusier and Gropius got their tentacles around the throat of academia that the anti-human, anti-ornament, anti-history, 'heroic' (arrogant) international style became the only style permitted to be called "modern".

Peer pressure forced conformity in the design community and cheap developers latched onto this crap to maximize their returns. The economies of scale in manufacture of ornamental elements and the pool of skilled labor to properly build or craft specific elements has been eroded by this cycle. To the point of making it difficult to build anything remotely ornate cost effectively without ample research.

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Love the Bauhaus, but I need

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Love the Bauhaus, but I need to tell you that FLW was not part of that movement. A contemporary, yes, but not a Bauhäuser.

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I mean, I don't think Le

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I mean, I don't think Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus could be compared to a dictator who ordered the killing of over 3 million people (and apparently has a massive following among academics?) but okay

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The world is now full of tens

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The world is now full of tens of millions of shitty quality of life crushing buildings thanks to those two. Corbusier and to a much larger extent Philip Johnson were big fans of rising authoritarianism in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They thought that they'd be part of the vanguard and be dictating the course of modern society. Corbusier's Towards a New Architecture has passages dictated to the coming revolution, which was explicitly about the coming of authoritarian states in Europe.

The Bauhaus was shut down explicitly because it represented a threat to the National Socialist Workers Party's fetish with neoclassical architecture as heir apparent to a new Rome. It represented too much the aesthetic being gleefully sold by Corbusier to the Soviet Union and the party didn't want comparisons between the two political entities of fascism and communism even though they are technically kissing cousins.

Incidentally, beyond the infection of academia with international style supporters, the use of neoclassicism by the Nazis created a backlash against that style in Europe during the postwar period. There already was somewhat of reaction against traditionalism following World War I as the culture was viewed as having been responsible for the great empires committing suicide. The international style took great advantage of the postwar despair over history and culture and used its position in academia to erase or reshape whatever it could.

Urban renewal in the US, of the scale and type which happened to be proposed in Europe prior to World War II, allowed academics to undertake projects on a scale similar to bombed out postwar Europe. It was the same authoritarian utopian streak as in the beginning to reshape the world from as clean a slate as possible.

To this day there are people working hard to rewrite history and turn the disasters of the international style and urban renewal into some sort of heroic era of idealism. The authoritarian roots and failures of which are being whitewashed. If it weren't for a few people like Jane Jacobs the bastards would have gotten away with it already.

As far as comparison to madness in South East Asia:

Pol Pot did and still quietly does have a large following with academics which lust for that kind of authoritarian power to massively reshape society to their liking. Mao had many joyful carriers of his Little Red Book on campuses across the country until it well known how many peasants his policies killed. It wasn't until the Killing Fields were widely known about that open academic infatuation with Pol Pot became required to be concealed.

Remember that Pol was a history teacher. Utopian academics loved the entire angle of a history teacher restructuring society back from agrarian basics to a new future. The means and lack of morality of going about it was part of the anything goes radical revolutionary idealistic lunacy prevalent at the time.

This is why Bill Ayers and his followers got a pass in becoming a university professor. Half his colleagues in academia from that era were dreaming the same violent revolutionary stuff. They just didn't go out and commit acts of terrorism like they did.

It was all the same tripe across the spectrum of academics, architects, politicians, philosophers, etc. "We are going to create a new utopia! To do that we need to expunge X! Utopia is such a noble cause the means or morality of expunging X doesn't matter!" "The majority people don't like this idea? Oh those unwashed fools just don't see how brilliant and better it will be! They need to be reeducated and dissenters eliminated as enemies of utopia!"

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Oh, please

I can appreciate the significance of the Brutalist style and that City Hall is a prime example of it - just as I understand why Caravaggio's painting of Judith beheading Holofernes is important and an incredible work of art. But I don't want that painting in my house and I still think City Hall is ugly.

And in all honesty, my biggest problem with City Hall is the massive, empty, unfriendly and barren plaza surrounding it.

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Is Not THAT Empty

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Most of the year something is going on in the plazza, be it concerts on the outside stage, the Big Apple Circus, farmers markets, or ice cream or chowder festivals, or rallies for sports teams. Obviously it still could use more use, but its not all that empty. It would help too if the city would fix the fountain and properly maintain the plaza and building too.

Also you can't just put whatever up there. The plaza is really the roof of a massive underground complex that is vital to the functioning of City Hall, the nearby office buildings like 28 State, and the JFK building. It covers a mass of loading docks, dumpsters, storage, parking, security, and maintenance facilities for those buildings.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (but anyone's opinion that differs from mine is wrong). I think Brutalist and Modernist concrete is the most beautiful form of architecture. Where you might see them as crushing and imposing I find the style uplifting. And I love the works of the Bauhaus School's many architects, especially van der Rohe) . Incidentally, Bauhaus designed furniture, to this day, can be found at such mundane locations as Jordan's, and comprise some of their nicest leather couches. Also some information not commonly known. The root of the word Brutalism is not Brutal. It's the French phrase, beton brut, translated as “raw concrete.”

Not really sure what you have against that particular Caravaggio painting. It's not even particularly gory. Though I would elect for works from Van Gogh, Klimpt, Kandinsky, or even Mondrian.

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I remember the old Faneuil

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I remember the old Faneuil Hall when it was a market and I picked up meat for a trucking company. And that new city hall whatever should be bulldozed over and made into something for people, little side streets with not too high buildings, and the main streets reconnected to Cambridge street. The city functions should be moved to the desolate area near the Conley terminal thereabouts, they can pave the buildings surrounds with cobblestones if they want. I got some of the originals at home, not the newer nice uniform ones ,that have been reclaimed from the fill that they were part of when they were moved the first time for fill to Port Norfolk .
( http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanshnookenraggen/set... )

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For those who are curious...

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I had always heard that the Boston City Hall design was the result of a competition among architects. A couple of years ago I found photos of the also-rans, the seven other finalists. (If you can find access to the Boston Globe archives either on-line or on microfilm, they're on May 4, 1962, page 17.) Frankly, I think the winning design was in fact the best of the lot. Most of them are even more boring, more banal than what we ended up with.

The newspaper article (page 1 of the same day's Globe) says that "The unveiling of the building's design... was greeted in the halls of the Museum of Fine Arts with a scattering of applause, sighs of approval and some remarks that were less kind." "'What in ---- is that?' muttered one person close to the model."

In response to Adam's comment above that the JFK Building went up faster than City Hall, part of the delay for City Hall was the northbound Green Line tunnel, which ran right under the City Hall site. They had to build a new tunnel and relocate the tracks before they could proceed with the foundations for City Hall. In the photo above, you can see what appears to be part of a tunnel -- I'm not sure if it's the old one or the new -- in the lower right corner.

In the photo of Faneuil Hall, look closely and you'll see a curving on-ramp to the Central Artery, starting right about where the Hard Rock Cafe is now. The merge from that ramp proved to be a disaster and the ramp was removed at a very early date.

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Central Artery ramp removal

I thought it was removed in the 1970s because it blocked the "Walk to the Sea" that Mayor Kevin White wanted to create. (From City Hall Plaza down the steps through Quincy Market, under the Artery, and onward to the new Waterfront Park, now called Christopher Columbus Park.)

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