The Crate Faneuil Hall Came In turns 50

City Hall cake

There was cake! Photo by Brad Squirrels.

Mayor Walsh, Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola and others gathered inside City Hall today to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Cake was eaten and reproduction pins were given out.

The design for City Hall was one of several considered by a panel of judges.

Construction of Government Center, which included the federal JFK Building and City Hall, began in 1964 (photo from the Boston City Archives's Government Center construction collection):

City Hall under construction



Free tagging: 




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Please, oh please, put this beast out of its misery, and rename it back to Scollay Square. Please.


Do you work or live in one?

One reason people despise this one isn't the exterior, but the interior.

Then again, my whole family dissolved into hysterical puddles of laughter when touring Empire State Plaza. We went because of this song, and we weren't disappointed:

How about fixing the plaza first

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The plaza is in bad bad bad shape. Its why the Sox and Pats didn't rally at BCHP. Walsh keeps hiring grade C designers instead of going all in and hiring a top notch A/E firm.

Missed opportunity

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They could have had Jonathan Richman singing Government Center. And then Roadrunner, just for 'cause.


Oh yeah

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Especially because Walsh was the legislative leader of the effort to get Roadrunner made the official state rock song, at least until he got elected mayor.


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with the Patriots jokes already.

Floor By Floor Directory.

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An online City Hall Floor By Floor Directory please!... in addition to the Alphabetical Directory.

An online Floor By Floor Directory for the City's Copley Square Boston Public Library too.

Hard of hearing folks, deaf folks, many folks find the format of the Floor By Floor Directory easier to use.

A Floor By Floor Directory can be crowdsourced!

An ONLINE City Hall floor-by

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An ONLINE City Hall floor-by-floor directory???!!!

What - the dimly backlit information in the elevators isn't enough for you?


The building was never

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The building was never finished. Part of the original design was a deck that extends the 3rd/4th floor over Congress Street and down towards Fanueil Hall. The feature was removed because of budget. But that omission is part of the reason the Congress St side of the building is so horrible.


Brutalist style of architecture

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Boston City Hall is actually considered one of the finest examples of this style in the world. You might even call it a masterpiece.It's certainly worthy of landmark status at some point.


Masterpiece, indeed

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City Hall might very well be a masterpiece of brutalist architecture but the flip side is being crowned the ugliest of the ugly.

Don’t get me started on the interior layout. What a pit.

The best of BAD

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Your logic is impeccable except -- There is no reason for the syllogistic connection from "Best of Bad" to "Good"

Best of the Bad is still BAD!!

Suffice it to say -- architects had lost inspiration or humanity or something and all they could produce for a couple of decades was Brutalist -- aka Trash masquerading as architecture

However if there is a saving grace for City Hall -- its that the "Paul Rudolph Masterpiece" [the Hurley Center] nearby if far worst and should immediately fall to the "proverbial wrecking ball"


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Some people might like the Darth Vader style of architecture. Some people think Plan Nine From Outer Space is a cinematic masterpiece. De gustibus non est disputandum.

Boston actually has two Brutalist City Halls

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The one we all love or hate and the one nobody knows about. The state government bldg, the one with fencing around it north of Bowdoin station, was designed by an architect who didn't get the City Hall commission. The architect was angered by the rejection and made the state government building his "city hall counter argument" aka, what he believed Boston City Hall should be

If there was ever a serious

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If there was ever a serious suggestion of designating this building as a landmark, mobs of Bostonians would come and attack the thing with pickaxes. It is indeed a fine example of brutalism. That's the problem.

Grim interior

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The interior is confusing to visitors and a grim place to work. The offices where parking tickets are paid, and the other registries like birth and death records, are particularly bad. No exterior light, that silly escalator and that gray concrete just making everything feel like it's a sunless winter day every day of the year. I worked there for ten years. The mayor has a great office, the councilors who have a view facing out, rather than into the interior aren't bad either. There are a couple of staircases that I used to use that reminded me of a secret passageway in a castle.

No, the concrete faux brick

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No, the concrete faux brick 1907 former asylum I work at is a pit. The toilets at my job are older than City Hall.

The exterior actually isn't

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The exterior actually isn't too bad.

The connected lobbies/open space/entryways might have been good - until contemporary security practices strangled that (and the Congress Street entrance being so disconnected from the others)

The interior layout and working spaces, though... the absolute worst.

How much is Brutalism to blame for that? My only other experience with that style is Goddard Library at Clark, so I don't have a large sample to draw on.

Boston City Hall at 100

One of the foremost docking sites on the eastern seaboard, City Hall features marina facilities and undercover boat storage. This sturdy structure opened in 1969 and was, at the time, some distance from the water. Boston City Hall now resides at the confluence of land and water, in the same way that it once sat both on fill and dry land. It is a fine gateway to the Atlantic for the resurgent Shawmut Peninsula neighborhood.