When trolleys plowed the streets

Old trolley plowing a Boston street

The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can figure out when and where this photo was taken. See it larger.

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Easy Peasy

Berkeley St at Columbus Ave. The view today. The building on the right is the Youth's Companion Building, aka The Pledge of Allegiance Building at 201 Columbus Ave / 142 Berkeley St. The Pledge of Allegiance was written and first published in the Youth's Companion Magazine, which was headquartered there.

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People's Temple

And according to what I could Google, said building existed at the corner of Tremont and Bromfield, but that doesn't seem like the sort of building one would demolish. Anyone know where the building was in fact sited?

Berkeley Street near present Stuart, looking south

This one's tricky!

We're on Berkeley Street, near the present location of Stuart Street -- which didn't exist at the time -- looking south towards Columbus Ave. and the South End. Indeed, that is the Youth's Companion Building (or Pledge of Allegiance Building) on the right. The gasolene station is at 148 Berkeley St., where the Boston Police HQ -- now a hotel -- would later be built.

The People's Temple was on the NE corner of Berkeley and Columbus. It was built as the People's Methodist Episcopal Church and later acquired the People's Temple name. It was demolished sometime between 1917 and 1928. An office building is on the site today.

The walls on either side of the street, in the foreground, made me think this was taken on a bridge over some railroad tracks. And so it was, sort of. The Boston & Providence, later the New Haven RR, used to parallel Columbus Ave., and went to the station where the Park Plaza Hotel is now. Those tracks were removed when South Station opened in 1899, but it took over a decade before new streets were laid out and buildings started to pop up. Stuart Street was laid out here in 1910, so the photo has to be before that. But probably not much before, with the gas station there.

One thing that tricked me is the building in the foreground on the far left, that looks like a church, with a steeple on it. That is NOT the People's Temple -- the Temple is the next building back, and it didn't have a steeple. As for the church in the left foreground, it doesn't appear on any of the maps I looked at, from 1895, 1902, 1908, 1917, or 1928. The Salada Tea Building was erected on that site by 1917.

Behind People's Temple, just above and left of the trolley snow plow, is yet another church, First Presbyterian Church, on the E side of Berkeley between Columbus Ave. and Cortes Street. The site is a vacant lot now.

The Castle Square sign is another tricky thing. I believe it's advertising -- pointing the way to either the Castle Square Hotel or the Castle Square Theatre, and not on top of either building. The hotel and theatre stood on Chandler Street on the site now occupied by the Animal Rescue League. Castle Square itself was at the east end of Chandler Street, at the junction with Arlington.

Not sure about the steeple in the distance on the right side of Berkeley St., either. It may be an earlier building of the First Presbyterian Church, at 66 Berkeley St., SW corner of Chandler, after 1924 the Ellis Memorial, still standing, without a steeple, today. A 1917 map shows it being used as a garage!

The Answer

Those of you who guessed Berkley St are correct. The photo was taken looking towards Columbus Ave and the date is March 2, 1916. Thanks for playing everyone!