Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Copley Square, Boston

"Copley Square, Boston," by Arthur Clifton Goodwin
Here is another Boston street scene by Arthur Clifton Goodwin. (See my previous post just below this one for his information.) This was painted in 1908, but it's close enough to 1905--except that the cars are a little newer!

It is owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but is currently out on loan.

The painting conveys a lovely winter spirit, so . . . Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Late November Afternoon

"Late November Afternoon…." by Arthur Clifton Goodwin
This painting offers a lovely glimpse of Boston life on what we are told is a late November afternoon in the Public Garden. It was painted about 1905 by Arthur Clifton Goodwin (1864-1929) who, according to the Pierce Galleries website, "is known primarily for his spontaneously executed impressionistic views of docks, harbors, landscapes, and cityscapes in and around Boston, Gloucester, and New York City."

It belongs to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, though it is not currently on display.

Sadly, Arthur Goodwin came to an unhappy end. After his marriage failed, he returned to Boston from New York and embarked on a Bohemian lifestyle, drinking heavily. Arthur had never visited Paris but he kept telling people he wanted to go there to see French impressionists' work with his own eyes. After one night of particularly heavy drinking he was found dead in his Boston studio, the unused Paris tickets still in his pocket.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Boston Trolley Ride, 1903

A friend shared this on Facebook recently and I thought it needed to be posted here!

Previously I had posted a film from a 1906 San Francisco trolley ride. In that post, I noted: "It's hard today for us to imagine what city streets were like in 1905. There was an element of lawlessness--and pedestrians, newsboys, bicyclists, trolleys, cars, horses, and wagons/sleds all occupied the streets willy-nilly."

The opening of this film shows traffic on Tremont and Washington Streets, which was one of the most congested areas in the city. (You can clearly see the old Jordan Marsh store.) In 1897, Boston had opened its first subway line, right under Tremont and Washington, to help with the traffic. It's so crowded in the film, it's hard to imagine there were even more trolleys and people there before 1897!

Construction of that first subway tunnel was just like the Big Dig--they built it in the middle of the living city!  Each night, they would dig 12 foot wide strips on Tremont Street, and then cover them and shore them up with timbers.  In the daytime, traffic down Tremont could continue unabated, and the workers could continue with digging and construction underneath.

In 1901, the elevated line from Charlestown to North Station opened--you can see the elevated station (which looked the same for a century!) in the middle of the film.

The final section of the film shows Boylston Street and Copley Square.

A year or so after this film was made, in December of 1904, Boston would open its first under-harbor tunnel, the East Boston trolley tunnel.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

MIT in the Back Bay

MIT moved to its current Cambridge location in 1916, after marathon legislative wrangling sessions, many discussions and false starts, and much bloviation from faculty, students, and alumni over various possible sites for the institute. Before that, its campus was in the Back Bay, and this map shows the various sites of the institute in 1905--a year that saw MIT almost striking a merger deal with Harvard which would have moved "Boston Tech" to Cambridge to the current site of the Harvard Business School.

Click on the map to see a larger (readable!) version.

1905 map of MIT in Back Bay, Boston

The oval in the upper right shows the main campus buildings. Walker and Rogers were torn down and in their place was constructed the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company Building. The Natural History Museum in the same block still stands, and has served as the location for a number of retail stores over the years; a Restoration Hardware opened there in April, 2013, with a renovation that revealed aspects of the original building that had been covered for years.

The oval in the center of the illustration is now the site of the John Hancock Building.

See my post on Henry Pritchett, president of MIT in 1905, for more information.

Illustration Credits

The map is preserved in MIT's Institute Archives and Special Collections; the author added the ovals.