Citizen complaint of the day: Somebody deserves some coal in their stocking

Broken coal shute

A concerned citizen reports that not only is there still a coal chute in front of 175 Endicott St. in the North End, but that it's badly in need of repair.



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    Actually kinda cool

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    I always have trouble identifying archaic home features in Boston. Aside from coal chutes and boot scrapers, are there any other things I should be able to locate on or around an older Boston house?


    I'm Not So Sure That's A Chute

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    Coal chutes were typically a metal door on the side of a building. This looks more like some sort of vent. A grille mounted flat on a sidewalk like that would send rainwater into any coal bin located below.

    I don't think it is a grille.

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    I don't think it is a grille. I think the light makes it look like it has holes but it is solid.
    I agree it isn't a coal chute. Too small


    No. In Boston, at least,

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    No. In Boston, at least, coal chutes were often in the sidewalk..

    That indeed looks like a coal chute cover. You will see them at many older houses and buildings in some sections of the city.

    In front of those houses, in fact. Delivery trucks (or large horse-wagons in earlier days) couldn't necessarily pass through back alleys. Lift the cover, slide or tip the coal into the chute, and let gravity do the work - filling a bin inside the basement.

    That isn't a grille, by the way. It's a solid cover with a textured surface, sort of a waffle pattern. Lots of them are smooth.

    Where they are no longer in use, they might be filled-in, but the few I've seen up close are just bricked up at the foundation wall.

    Years ago, my work took me to a very nice house in the Back Bay - a 4 or 5 story right along the Comm Av Mall that was being renovated. Part of the scope of the project (adding fire sprinklers) required a new water service from the street. That task was made much easier by the presence of an old coal chute out front. Much less excavation - only had to dig far enough to connect from the main in the street and run to the existing chute, then run the rest of the pipe in the chute and chip out a couple of bricks at the foundation wall.

    On another note, I'm not sure to which degree this is the city's responsibility. The request might be better phrased as "please lean on the homeowner to fix it or send DPW out to fix it and bill the homeowner to a fare-thee-well"


    Anyone know how to repair a

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    Anyone know how to repair a leaking coal chute? Water runs in to the finished basement when it rains.

    I don't think it's a grille

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    That looks like a solid iron cap to me. So long as it overlapped the edge of the pipe/chute that it covered, it should have been pretty watertight. I mean, until it rusted through and collapsed, of course.



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    Never a scrap metal 'collector' when you need one.


    It's strange as they aren't consistent.

    Some had grooves and others didn't.

    I think it's along Atlantic ave just across from Lewis Wharf.

    I looked at a bit of street view but didn't get a match. I have to go back again and cover harbor walk from Lewis to the Charlestown Bridge and I found it's a great way to use up camcorder battery time I have left from other trips.

    Take a subway early on Sunday morning and the waterfront is quiet.

    It'll be interesting to add to what is known and my overseas constituents love this stuff.

    Fulton St Historic District

    is the name of the thing I explored.

    I couldn't find much more out about it's particular situation but I found this hilarious archive item from 1852 city records of sidewalk work at the time it was built.

    They collected more than three grand for reselling street manure and coal ash and also got fees for conveying paupers to some holding facility in South Boston.