This is an invitation to use Mapjunction! A free web tool for map lovers and history enthusiasts. In Mapjunction you can compare any two maps from Boston and environ history. You'll see almost 400 maps and aerial photos that are the result of combining about 3000 individual maps and aerial scans. Just move the green wand from side to side to uncover history. Move the wand up and down to change opacity, and use the side bars to pick any map, aerial or atlas to explore.
The Massachusetts Historical Society recounts the fall of the Great Elm, a tree that had long been a fixture on the Common, in 1876:
When the tree finally did come down in 1876, struck by a strong gust of wind during a storm, Boston citizens rushed to the tree to claim branches and scraps of wood as souvenirs.
The tree was repurposed in a number of other ways by inventive residents, including creating veneered pictures of the tree made out of wood from the elm itself and growing a root of “The Old Elm” around a china dish cover. Part of the tree was also used to make a chair for the Boston Public Library . ... One of these keepsakes belongs to MHS’s own collection, a pair of “Old Elm earrings,” made by Benjamin F. Knowlton.
Looks like somebody's stolen Robert Gould Shaw's sword again from the memorial across from the State House.
The Harvard Gazette interviews Jane Kamensky, author of a new biography of John Singleton Copley (you know, as in the Square), who actually left Boston for England in 1774 and never returned. She discusses that famous painting of the kid who looks like he's about to be eaten by a shark:
Brook Watson had been a merchant’s boy, probably a cabin boy at first and then an Atlantic coastal merchant, spending time in the waters of Havana where this happened to him in the 1740s. He was swimming and was flayed and nearly drowned. The incident allowed Copley to paint something that was incredibly suspenseful and that was exhibited at an incredible moment of national suspense about the fate of Britain.
Mount Auburn Cemetery recounts the days when the Cambridge Horse Railroad provided service to the cemetery all the way from Bowdoin Square in Boston.
Its cars made 175 trips each way every day at fifteen-minute intervals until 11:30 pm. Wrought-iron rails assured a smooth ride along tree-lined Brattle Street past the Longfellow House. In 1863 another line brought visitors past Fresh Pond to Mount Auburn via Garden and Craigie streets. ... The low fare made frequent visits possible, unlike the cost of hiring a hack.
On Feb. 2, 1875, James Gatley quietly died in Grew's Woods, a vast expanse of woods and hills on what was then the Hyde Park/West Roxbury town line, where he'd lived in a 10x12 hut for nearly three decades, studying and stuffing the local birds and reptiles. Read more.
In 1938, after Germany expelled thousands of Polish Jews from the Reich and then organized the Kristallnacht pogroms, US Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers (R-Lowell) joined with Sen. Robert Wagner (D-NY) to introduce a bill to admit into the US 20,000 Jewish children fleeing the Nazis. Read more.
J.L. Bell ponders why Henry Knox might have had the cannons he and his troops were hauling from Ticonderoga to Dorchester Heights brought to Framingham even though that meant diverting from the fastest route to the Boston area.
The Boston Architectural College library gives us a look at West Broadway in South Boston 100 years ago and today.
J.L. Bell recounts John Adams's worries about how his son, John Quincy Adams, would do at Harvard.
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