Nothing like the smell of ink early in the morning

Old printing shop in Boston

The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can place this scene. See it larger.



Free tagging: 


    Boston Printing Department

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    circa the end of Menino's tenure - 2010?

    (incredibly they were still in operation as a jobs program until shortly after the financial crisis)

    In all seriousness - looks like a trade school - was it the Bennett that used to be in the North End (which was near the city's printing facility?). I'll go with that and based on clothes I'll say 1930ish originally thought later - but I think I'm seeing some knickers there..

    Printing Plant.

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    So I think you have this right. This is the old City of Boston printing plant which was still in operation in 2010 but had all its stuff auctioned off in early 2011.

    It's now used as part of the North Bennet street school that moved into that building and the old police station next door.


    The panslab ceiling is usually a 1950s thing.

    My guesses:

    1) Hyde Park High
    2) East Boston High
    3) South Boston High


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    That would be if the things used for printing were readable.

    Um ... you do realize

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    Um ... you do realize printing plates have to be mirror images, right ?

    One clue

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    That appears to be Hebrew on those signs.

    Not Hebrew

    Just backwards (mirror-image) English. Put the photo in Preview and select "Flip Horizontal".


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    Thanks! It looked kinda Hebrew to me.


    My odd brain initially interpreted it as cyrillic, but then I quickly realized that it was a negative.


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    Martin Milmore School


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    are working on their book reports


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    IS similar to the old armory building on com ave.
    much earlier than 1955.
    but I like the don bosco guess

    Neck trouble

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    I keep hearing about a recent affliction called "Smartphone Neck" or "Text Neck". Was "Typesetters Neck" a thing back in those days?

    The Art Deco Typefaces

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    Would indicate probably the 1930's. And despite what the background sign says, they don't appear to be doing anything really specific to printing. There's no press equipment or letter blocks in the pic. So they may also be sign making. (The voc school theory is a good one.)

    The Answer

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    Thanks for playing folks!

    This is an Interior Design class at the Washington Irving School in the 1936-1937 school year. The photo is tricky, because it was taken in the same room that was used for the Printing Class - but as you can see, they're drawing, not setting type.

    We don't think the photo is backwards, we think that instead we're looking at type (which is backwards)