When a hurricane wreaked havoc on the Back Bay

Destroyed Boston Coliseum

Post-Gale coliseum.

Today, the folks at the Boston City Archives remind us, is the anniversary of the Boston landfall of the Gale of 1869, a small but powerful hurricane that did major damage to the new Boston Coliseum - built for a "peace jubilee" where Trinity Church and the Fairmont Copley Plaza sit now.

Linda Horton writes about the Gale:

A fatal accident happened at the time [the Coliseum] was blown over to Granville M. Clark, who lived near the building. He was just entering his residence when he heard that a person had been injured in the fall of the Coliseum, and he started to go there, but a furious gust of wind tore up the wooden sidewalk on which he was walking, and the timber was hurled against him so violently that his skull was badly fractured, his lips severely cut, and one arm broken. He fell bleeding and insensible, and died shortly after seven o'clock. The beautiful spire of the Hanover street Methodist church was blown down and several fine church edifices in the city were severely injured.

Less than a month later, the Saxby Gale slammed into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, indirectly affected Boston as well, by damaging ships bound to the city from the Canadian provinces.

At Eastport the vessel took on a large quantity of freight, but about three o’clock in the afternoon, as Captain E. B. Winchester was preparing to leave, he received another telegram from Boston advising him that the gale had grown furious in its intensity. He was instructed not to proceed to Boston, but to leave Eastport and find a safer harbour.

Captain Winchester decided that nearby Rumery’s Bay, surrounded by tall hills, was his best bet. He wasted no time in raising steam. It was only a short run and the New York arrived about 4 p.m., but the wind had already picked up mightily and had reached hurricane force. ...

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