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Oh my God, the old lady trapped on the stairs between the two wings of the Copley Square library finally escaped!

New entrance between old and new wings of Copley Square BPL library

Not long after the Johnson wing of the BPL's main library went up, the story goes, an old lady became forever trapped in the stairs that were the only way to get between the new and old wings. The new renovations have finally fixed that.

UPDATE: When I originally posted this, I thought this was just one of those urban legends. But it turns out an elderly woman actually did die in a BPL corridor, although not one connecting the two wings, in 1977.

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Comments

AG: Photography is not your strong suit.

BPL/WRA: Kudos for pushing this connection as an agenda item. (it was a shit-ton of work and dough)

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Looks to depict a juxtaposition of two somewhat different interior architectural styles, and some stairs, to evoke the actual story, which might be all that could be gotten at the time.

If there were also some pertinent signage, and some people traversing the connector, that would be nice, but you can't always get that.

You were looking for more glossy architectural photography rather than story-telling photojournalism?

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Do they have Prince Albert in a can?

And will the old lady be able to free Charlie?

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Yes, I am shouting.

!!!DON'T GOOGLE IMAGE PRINCE ALBERT IN A CAN!!!!

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oh it isn't that bad.. ;)

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Working for MH.

You've been desensitized.

Rumor has it, youre back for more?

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Mmmkay.. you really need to talk to me directly, like on FB. this is starting to get irritating :-p

No I am not, nor I would go back. Bleh. No thanks. A friend did recently start working there tho.

And yeah maybe I have become desensitized. But its really like two pictures :p No balls about it.

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"Prince Albert" without any reference to his wife, Queen Victoria, is what gets you in trouble here.

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I see nothing wrong with the photo, although I am puzzled by the old lady story. Exactly how was she trapped and ultimately freed ? I keep imagining something like being walled into the Winchester mansion, but I'm not aware of any place in the library where such a trapping might have occurred. Maybe it was a sort of M. C. Escher/Dorian Grey mashup where the architecture in the picture gets more complicated over time, while the real thing gets more simplified ? I don't know, but it's moot anyway cause it's a practical certainty that that place is haunted now and no way am I going in there anytime soon.

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in the 70's... it stuck with me as a kid... an elderly lady had done down an emergency exit in the newer building and couldn't' push the heavy modern door. They found her dead there some days later.

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My roommate and I were in one of BU's buildings in Kenmore Square and decided to walk down the stairs (as we did in most other BU buildings) instead of taking the elevator. Once the door slammed shut behind us, we realized that there was no way to open the door from inside the stairwell: no knob or handle, nothing. We checked each stair landing, floor by floor, and found the same situation. When we got to the ground floor, we finally found a door that opened into a sprinkler control room, and were able to escape from there. Thankfully, this was recently enough that cell phones existed: had we not been able to get out, we could have called for help.

Incidentally, a few years back, there was a story of a hospital patient in San Francisco dying under similar circumstances. Some stairwells should be marked "Fire Exit Only."

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If there was no way to leave the stairwell then it should be labeled "Oubliette".

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What do you mean "as the story goes." The woman starved to death.

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Maybe because it was kept quiet or news archives don't go back that far ... but I thought it was a legend.

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Where is the part of the lib photographed?... on the map at
http://www.bpl.org/central/plan.htm

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Woman is entering 1st fl of Johnson, with her back to the Courtyard. Leventhal Map Center on our right (her left), Commonwealth Salon on our left (her right).

ETA: The old school lift and stairs are just behind the columns on the right.

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Looks amazing. I can't bring myself into a library during lunch on these glorious fall days but I'll be checking out the renovations on the next rainy day.

Adam, all of a sudden you need a photo editor and a copy editor for your grammar?

What happened? It's going to hell in a hand basket!

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I always thought this was just one of those urban-legendish things, except so outlandish nobody would think it's true.

But one of the advantages of a Globe subscription (even if just for the Sunday paper) is you get access to the Globe archives.

And on Sept. 6, 1977, the Globe Spotlight Team reported that an 80-year-old woman, Ethel Eyges, died when trapped for several days in an emergency exit from the new wing of the library (not one of the stairways between the new and old wings). When her body was found on Aug. 10, she had been missing for 22 days.

When the heavy door slammed shut behind her, it should have triggered a blinking light in a control room for the BPL. But that alarm system had been disconnected several years earlier. A maintenance worker who was supposed to check and clean the corridor periodically failed to do so.

In other words, it was just horrible.

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I did some preliminary scouting, but the year was off by a bit and I couldn't find anything

How horrible, indeed! That poor woman.

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my ignorance of historical fact (I'm evidently from out of town, but you know, I've been here a good while) caused me to post another one of my distasteful, disrespectful, and not particularly clever headlines.

Then when I discovered my ignorance and just how exceedingly distasteful and disrespectful my original headline really was, I left it the headline up there anyway. Ha ha!"

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I missed it. Obviously other people did as well. I'm sure you remember it quite well, however, don't you?

I thought about changing the headline, decided to leave it, but add that editor's note because it leads to a discussion of, yes, a horrible thing that happened that a lot of people don't know about.

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Wayfinding around the Copley Square Boston Public Library buildings is complicated by a lack of good signs and better naming of the Galleries like 1st Floor McKim Building East or NorthEast Gallery you go through to get to the Map Center.

Online tours backstage behind the scenes at our Copley Square Library buildings could include the giant walk-in Safe pictured in a 1950's National Geographic and standing by Milton Lord the then BPL Director. The state of Library Stacks could be shown along with the remnants of the Diebold Book Delivery system mechanics and Pneumatic tube system mechanics for folks fascinated by historic mechanical systems.

Online backstage behind the scenes tours that include the facilities, Lecture Hall Green Room https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_room storage areas, the Loading Dock, the Staff Cafeteria, Board of Trustees' Washroom, BPL President's Washroom, Staff Washrooms would be of interest for folks curious about the state of the workplace for curators, for all library workers, for prospective staff planning careers at BPL.

Examples
https://www.nypl.org/blog/2010/12/21/stack-tour
https://www.google.com/search?q=new+york+public+library+stacks&tbm=isch

http://www.thecateredaffair.com/bpl/explore-bpl/virtual-tour/

Compare Library Sound Archives
http://sounds.bl.uk/
http://soundarchives.bpl.org/
http://gallica.bnf.fr/html/und/objets/collection-charles-cros

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Yes, that's exactly what I want to see on a tour. I want to see where the person who signs out the books to me moves their bowels.

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I still have no desire to see where the Trustees make water.

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Are you five yeas old or something? What's the obsession with washrooms here?

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