Is that Charlie waving from the window?

Boston trolleys

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



Free tagging: 


Either that, or Brighton Ave ?

BU/CommAv was my first thought as you mentioned

But also a possibility is Brighton Ave beyond Packard's Corner. The old A line ran down that street and they only took out the tracks.....what, 10 years ago?

Closer to 20, I believe

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I moved to the area in 1995 and I think they took them out that year or the next, if the memory banks are still working. Gettin' older...

time flies

wow....I lived not too far from that area in 1995 and always hoped they'd run the A line once again. Until they ripped the tracks out.

664 Commonwealth Ave in

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664 Commonwealth Ave in Boston. The building itself doesn't seem to be there anymore? Seems to have been a car dealership. Looking south across the trolley tracks, circa early 60s?

I want to know what those ladies are doing apparently posing on a ladder with the signals...

Beat me to it

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Down to the question about the women folk.

Hunt-Marquardt did both appliances and automobile parts. I will differ with you on the date. I'm going early 50s.

Seriously, though, what are the women doing?

I concede the date, as I'm

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I concede the date, as I'm terrible at discerning eras.

The women are the true mystery here. Who are they, who is photographing them, and why? Advertisement?

My first thought was the old

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My first thought was the old A-Line tracks on Brighton Ave in Allston (next to the present-day Toyota dealership) right before they rejoin the B-Line

I'd say late 40s

The cars look a bit pre-1950, but not much. I wonder if the young ladies aren't posing for some sort of photo?

Photo Taken by BTD?

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The PCCs have MTA logos on them, so it was taken after August 1947. Maybe the spring or summer of 1948? I recall BTD did a series of photos around the city showing street scenes around that time.

Mid-50s Wedding Party

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... or some such. The men's clothing is tailored more closely to their bodies than in the 1940s and the looser pleated skirts that were longer are definitely mid-50s.

The view today

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Assuming the 664 Comm Ave. guess is correct, here's what it looks like today, courtesy of Granby Street would be behind the photographer, and Warren Towers is on the site of those buildings today.

And what about the guy with one arm in his jacket sleeve, and one arm out of it?

Now we're on my turf

An old photo of people making a photo. Sign me up.

Just thinking about the activity shown, it looks to me like a staged publicity shoot, mostly because casual shooters like tourists don't tend to bring 6' stepladders with them.

At first I thought there were four men standing there, but looking at the shadows on the ground I only see shadows for three people, so I looked at the image with my enlarger loupe. I think the man in the middle may be holding a 4x5 press camera with a flash gun attached. The white-ish round thing that looks like a head behind/to the left of the guy in the light suit is actually the metal reflector dish to his right. If you look closely you can see it actually obscures the back of the man in the light suit's hair.

If they're using a flash in bright daylight like this, we may also reasonably speculate that the photographer is shooting *very* slow film, probably ASA 10 or so. Original Kodachrome was ASA 8 (in 4x5 sheets, rollfilms were different), and very sharply colour balanced for either daylight or tungsten lights. I've been told by some of the greybeards that some people shot with flash outdoors to fix the colour balance when they only had tungsten-balance film loaded (and this is why God invented QuickLoad).

The man in the light suit is holding what I at first thought might be a small camera with a prominent lens like a Leica or maybe a Kodak Medalist, but if I'm right about the press camera, I wonder if he's holding something else with a largish lens like a spot meter.

I have no idea what the guy with one arm out of his jacket is doing. He could have another camera over his right shoulder. Maybe something taller than wide, like a TLR/pseudo-TLR, or a folder like the Kodak Tourist.

All of this is based on trying to read between the pixels. I'd love to see the original print to see if I'm correct.

The Answer

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Thanks for playing everyone! This is the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Granby Street. It was taken on October 22, 1948.


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This photo was taken by the Traffic and Parking Dept in a project documenting Boston's intersections and traffic patterns.