April 2015, Downtown


arms crossed, sam adams statue  (sonya kovacic)

arms crossed, sam adams statue (sonya kovacic)

Sam Adams crossing his arms in front of Faneuil Hall is a sign of defiance.

The story of the artist behind the statue, Watertown born Anne Whitney (1821-1915), is a story of defiance. Anne Whitney was a well educated and well traveled poet, sculptor, abolitionist and member of the suffrage movement. In 1874, she won a competition for designing a statue of Charles Sumner but was disqualified because she was a woman. The reason: "It would be improper for a woman to sculpt a man’s legs."

In 1901/2, at the age of 80. her Charles Sumner statue was cast in bronze and now resides at Harvard University.

Compare Anne Whitney's statue of Charles Sumner with Thomas Ball's statue.

Take a look at Whitney's original Sam Adams statue at the National Statuary Hall in the U.S Capital Building.

March 2015, Downtown


outside park station  (sonya kovacic)

outside park station (sonya kovacic)

According to Boston's Red Line: Bridging the Charles from Alewife to Braintree by Frank Cheney, "When the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) took over the complete Boson area transit system in 1964, it color-coded the route maps. The Cambridge-Dorchester subway line was designed as the Red Line in recognition of the city of Cambridge, which has long been known as the Crimson City." 

The first train from Harvard Square to Park Street left on March 23, 1912 at 5am with 300 passengers.  

Check out this 1912 advertisement for the red line. 

Interested in learning how to box? Redline in Cambridge offers boxing classes among other classes. 

March 2015, Downtown

fried dough

daddy's fried dough outside park station   (sonya kovacic)

daddy's fried dough outside park station (sonya kovacic)

Fried dough is found in many cultures and in many forms. Growing up my grandma used to make Serbian krofne, which are like beignets. There is something universally appealing about frying dough.

In the North End during the summer, there are festivals called feasts that celebrate Patron Saints from various regions in Italy. During the feasts, there are  parades, live entertainment, street food, and of course, fried dough

Duff Goldman from the Food Network went to Daddy's Fried Dough (established 1991) to try it out for himself.

Here is a schedule of the North End Feasts for 2015. 


March 2015, Downtown, parks


patriots parade , boston common  (sonya kovacic)

patriots parade, boston common (sonya kovacic)

On July 22nd, 1927 Boston held a parade for Charles Lindbergh as part of his 48 state, 92 city tour of the United States flying the Spirit of St. Louis. It was the same single engine plane he flew on his record breaking solo non-stop flight from New York to Paris. The trip took more than 33 hours.

As you can see, Charles Lindbergh was a big draw.

You can read more about his famous flight as well as his US tour here.

February 2015, Downtown


good view of the parade  (sonya kovacic)

good view of the parade (sonya kovacic)

According to the Trinity Church of Boston:

"When the church was consecrated in 1877, only one stained glass window - the Baptism window in the chancel made by the London firm of Clayton & Bell - was installed. As was the custom then, the other windows were filled with plain glass until donors stepped forward to fund stained glass replacements. Twenty of the thirty-three openings were commissioned within a year of the church's completion."

Two windows in the Trinity Church are from Boston based artist Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904). Along with the Trinity Church, her work can be seen at the Memorial Hall in Harvard, the Schlesinger Library in Radcliffe, and the First Church Unitarian in Brookline.

Another prominent Boston based stained glass artist was Charles J. Connick. Connick (1875-1945) had a studio that according to the BPL, produced 15,000 windows in over 5,000 commissions all over the United States, from 1912 to 1986. In Boston you can find his work in the Boston University Chapel, Brookline's All Saints Parish, and the First Congregational Church of Hyde Park.

WBUR looks at the "broken windows" theory.

Take a look at Charles J. Connick's work.

Take a look at Sarah Wyman Whitman's work.

February 2015, Downtown


no more snow? (sonya kovacic)

no more snow? (sonya kovacic)

Ask Beth was a Boston Globe advice column for teenagers that ran from 1963-2007. The column was known for addressing teenage issues honestly and included topics that were taboo at the time such as sexuality. Because of the column's popularity, it became a syndicated column and appeared in newspapers around the country. The author, Elizabeth Winship, grew up in Cambridge and studied psychology at Radcliffe. She was a children's book editor for the Globe before she was offered a job as an advice columnist. Winship retired in 1998 and her daughter Peggy continued the column until 2007. 

Hello. My name is Eliza. How may I help you? Eliza is a computer program that mimics a Rogerian Psychotherapist. Eliza was written in the 1960's by Joseph Weizenbaum from MIT. To start your session with Eliza, go here.

The Boston Globe has an archive of Ask Beth columns.

December 2014, Downtown

clock tower

custom house tower (kward823)

custom house tower (kward823)

Today's photo comes from Kelly Ward who lives in Mattapan. Kelly has this to say about Boston:

"I love that Boston is a constantly evolving masterpiece of ideas and people and places. The bustling city always has something novel and exciting to show me, and yet its smallness and incredible history make it seem perpetually familiar and accessible. Though that sense of familiarity sometimes renders me oblivious to my surroundings, every time I refocus my senses on the city I find a renewed appreciation and respect for it. There is a good reason that Bostonians are notorious for their fierce hometown pride, and it's hard not to feel Boston Strong as you walk its historic sunlit streets."

The Custom House Tower was constructed in 1915 as a way to expand the Custom House that was built in 1849 on State Street (at the time, the waterfront extended towards the building). The first custom house was built in the 17th century as a way to inspect cargo and collect fees. The tower is 496 feet tall, and until the construction of the Prudential Tower in 1964, was the tallest building in Boston.

The clock is 22 feet in diameter and has a 150-pound pendulum that powers the clock. According to the Boston Globe, "accumulations of New England snow or ice on any of the clock’s 11 ½-foot-long minute hands can bring time screeching to a halt, and prompt a call from hotel management to Hochstrasser, the bespectacled clock technician. Sometimes, especially as the timepiece’s hands near the top of their rotation, a strong gust of wind can bring the mechanism to a stop."  

After custom officials left the Custom House and moved into the Tip O'Neil Building in 1986, the building was abandoned for 14 years. Marriott Vacation Club International eventually bought the building and transformed it into hotel rooms. It is now called the Marriott Custom House.

Take a look at a photo of the Custom House Tower being built.

The Ayer Mill Clock in Lawrence, Ma, is the largest mill clock in the world with a face just a foot smaller than Big Ben’s in London. In 2010  it turned 100 years old.

Institutions, Downtown, Landmark, October 2014

faneuil hall

before rush hour (sonya kovacic)

before rush hour (sonya kovacic)

Faneuil Hall was built in 1742 on top of a landfill that used to be the old Town Dock, Boston's port and center of commerce. Peter Faneuil, a prominent merchant, built the hall as a gift to the city and it became an important meeting place for colonists to gather and talk about their grievances against the British. In 1761, Faneuil Hall suffered its first fire, and all that remained were the brick walls. Thanks in part to a state authorized lottery signed by John Hancock, Faneuil hall was rebuilt and expanded in 1762. In 1826, Faneuil Hall was expanded once again to include Quincy Market and is now the 7th most visited attraction in the world.

On January 4, 1974, the gilded grasshopper weather vane that sits atop Faneuil Hall was stolen. It was recovered nine days later after a former steeplejack convicted of another crime told the police about its whereabouts. The grasshopper vane was found damaged in the cupola of Faneuil hall, with some parts found in a bus station storage locker in Park Square. The grasshopper was repaired and placed back atop Faneuil Hall, on July 27th.

Tomorrow morning in Faneuil Hall, half of the Bostonology team will be speaking about Bostonology at TEDxBoston. You can listen to our story here.

Downtown, August 2014, Reader Submission


old state house  ( @samihagan10 )

old state house (@samihagan10)

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

— The final passage of the Declaration of Independence, which was read aloud from the Old State House's balcony on July 18, 1776.

As a part of the celebration, the crowd tore down the building's lion and unicorn statues (which are symbols of the British crown) and burned them in a bonfire on King Street.

(The statues were replaced in 1882 by the Bostonian Society, along with a statue of an Eagle on the opposite side.)

Here's a Bostonology-approved event: trivia for a cause. (Hint: this email might even help your team score a few points...)

Downtown, July 2014


after the show, theater district  (sonya kovacic)

after the show, theater district (sonya kovacic)

Boston's population varies with the seasons, but a more dramatic shift takes place nearly every day.

During standard working hours, the population of Suffolk County (encompassing Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop) increases by 32%. So how many people is that, exactly? Over a quarter million — commuting in and out of the city on a daily basis.

This is cool: an visualization of Boston's bus routes and speeds, created by Bostonography. Oh, and it's real-time.

Downtown, June 2014


boston opera house, theater district  (sonya kovacic)

boston opera house, theater district (sonya kovacic)

Benjamin Franklin Keith and Edward F. Albee kickstarted the vaudeville craze in the United States with a chain of theaters across the country. Their first vaudeville theater opened in 1883 in Boston, which was followed by theaters throughout the U.S. The variety show remained one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country for decades, until it was replaced by the feature film.

Boston was also home to one of the last vaudeville venues constructed. After Benjamin Franklin Keith died, the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre was built in 1928 in his honor. The building was home to two vaudeville performances a day during its first two years. The building still stands today on Washington Street, having been renamed and repurposed as the Boston Opera House.

Vaudeville could be making a comeback – later this year, Boston will be getting a brand new vaudeville nightclub.