August 2014

August 2014, South Station

long weekend

south station, heading home (sonya kovacic)

south station, heading home (sonya kovacic)

Labor Day is one of eleven federal holidays, including New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Washington's Birthday.

Massachusetts (and specifically Suffolk County) have additional holidays throughout the year, including Evacuation Day (March), Patriots' Day (April), and Bunker Hill Day (June).

Some state holidays that Massachusetts does not celebrate include:

Rosa Parks Day (Ohio)
Susan B. Anthony Day (New York, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin)
César Chávez Day (California)
Emancipation Day (Washington, D.C., Indiana, North Carolina, and North Dakota)
Confederate Memorial Day (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas)
Kamehameha Day (Hawaii)

If you're looking for a way to kick off the long weekend, consider tonight's Mass Brewers Fest.

Street art, August 2014, Cambridge

young love

graffiti, area 4 (sonya kovacic)

graffiti, area 4 (sonya kovacic)

In her 1896 book Customs and Fashions in Old New England, Alice Morse Earle describes the dating ("love-making") habits of colonial Puritans, by opening with a quote from an Englishwoman:

"'On the South there is a small but pleasant Common, where the Gallants, a little before sunset, walk with their Marmalet-Madams till the nine o'clock bell rings them home to their respective habitations.'

This simple and quaint picture of youthful love in the soft summer twilight, at that ever beautiful trysting-place, gives an unwonted touch of sentiment to the austere daily life of colonial New England. The omnipotent Puritan law-giver, who meddled and interfered in every detail, small and great, of the public and private life of the citizen, could not leave untouched, in fancy free, these soberly promenading Puritan sweethearts."

The Puritan law-givers retained some power, however. As she continues:

"In 1672 Jonathan Coventry, of Plymouth town, was indicted for "making a motion of marriage" to Katharine Dudley without obtaining formal consent. The sensible reason for these courtship regulations was "to prevent young folk from intangling themselves by rash and inconsiderate contracts of maridge." The Governor of Plymouth colony, Thomas Prence, did not hesitate to drag his daughter's love affairs before the public, in 1660, by prosecuting Arthur Howland for "disorderly and unrighteously endeavouring to gain the affections of Mistress Elizabeth Prence." The unrighteous lover was fined £5."

But of course, love finds a way:

"Seven years later, patient Arthur, who would not "refrain and desist," was again fined the same amount; but love prevailed over law, and he triumphantly married his fair Elizabeth a few months later.

Earle concludes, however:

The marriage of a daughter with an unwelcome swain was also often prohibited by will, "not to suffer her to be circumvented and cast away upon a swaggering gentleman."

In the mid-18th century, a young Bostonian named John Adams wrote several letters to woo Abigail Smith. Luckily, the letters survived.

In the mid-18th century, a young Bostonian named John Adams wrote several letters to woo Abigail Smith. Luckily, the letters survived.

August 2014, Concord

old manse

the old manse, concord (sonya kovacic)

the old manse, concord (sonya kovacic)

Along the banks of the Concord River (about 20 miles north of Boston) stands the Old Manse – a home that predates America's founding. Built in 1769, this house was in earshot of the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

It didn't become well-known, however, until Ralph Waldo Emerson took up residence in 1834. It's where he wrote the first draft of his essay "Nature", which laid the foundation for the Transcendentalist movement.

Emerson also hosted several of his peers in Concord, including Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In fact, Hawthorne and his wife moved into the Manse in 1842, where he wrote several works during his stay. Interestingly, Thoreau planted a vegetable garden for the couple, which has recently been restored.

(The home is currently preserved as a museum, which offers tours throughout the year.

In a total disregard for their security deposit, Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne etched love notes to each other into the Manse's windowpanes. They are still visible today — see pictures here.

South Boston Waterfront, August 2014


harborwalk and children's museum  ( @gteresa )

harborwalk and children's museum (@gteresa)

Today's photo was submitted by Teresa, from Somerville.

The Boston HarborWalk extends all the way from the Neponset River (at Pope John Paul II Park) through Dorchester, South Boston, Fort Point, Downtown, the North End, Charlestown, and East Boston.

The Walk connects with several of Boston's other paths, including the Freedom Trail, the Charles River Esplanade and Bike Path, and the Greenway.

When the HarborWalk is complete, it will stretch for a total of 46.9 miles — longer than the walk from Boston to Worcester.

HarborArts is turning an East Boston shipyard (part of the HarborWalk) into an outdoor art gallery.

August 2014


escalator at  porter square   (sonya kovacic)

escalator at porter square (sonya kovacic)

"Bostonians like old stuff."

— Former MBTA General Manager Thomas Glynn, in 1991.

Glynn was referring to the antique escalator at Downtown Crossing, which dated back to 1914. In the early 1990s, the still-operating escalator was coveted by the Smithsonian Institution as an antique.

It was typical of the era it was built — a narrow staircase, with wooden (as opposed to metal) threads. It was also notoriously clackety — homeless people were known to turn it off when they wanted to get some sleep.

Glynn and the MBTA did not give it up to the Smithsonian. At the time, they couldn't afford to replace it.

(It was eventually replaced during the Big Dig.)

The earliest known patent for a moving staircase comes from nearby, in Saugus. Despite having never built the machine, Nathan Ames's pre-Civil War design looks pretty modern.

Allston, August 2014


beatboxer, coco rosie at paradise rock club, allston  (sonya kovacic)

beatboxer, coco rosie at paradise rock club, allston (sonya kovacic)

After Wednesday's email about Newbury Street, one of our subscribers told us about another local institution that originated there. His email to us is today's trivia — thanks, Danny!

"Ah, you missed one more major school that started on Newbury!


Joseph Schillinger was a music theorist and composer who moved to America in the 1920s or 1930s, I can't recall when. He was also one of the first to experiment with electronic music, but he is mostly known for his contributions to jazz and pop. He taught many famous musicians of the time, including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and George Gershwin (for example, bits of Schillinger's influence can be found in Porgy and Bess). The famous Glenn Miller ballad Moonlight Serenade is actually based on Schillinger's ideas that involve using fairly arbitrary patterns and, well, almost formulas, and bringing out musical ideas from them.
 Anyway, Schillinger died in 1943 and one of his few students certified to teach his material was Lawrence Berk. In 1945, Berk started The Schillinger House at 284 Newbury Street, where he taught the Schillinger System in a more formal setting. Most of the students were working musicians, taking a few day classes during the week and gigging on nights and weekends. The Schillinger House was basically the first school in the world to primarily teach jazz, pop, rock, etc., instead of focusing on classical music. The school grew, as did Lawrence's family, and in 1954 he renamed the institution after his young son, Lee Berk. Thus, Berklee School of Music  (which by 1970 had changed its name to Berklee College of Music) was founded on Newbury Street.

I myself went there from 2003-2007 and took the only class left that uses advanced Schillinger System methods and techniques. That class may not even be available anymore, but the roots at Newbury Street are still fascinating to me!

— Danny Fratina"

Right down the street from Berklee's current location, you can watch students and professionals playing 365 days a year.

August 2014, Brookline


chestnut hill superlux (sonya kovacic)

chestnut hill superlux (sonya kovacic)


With two major movies currently filming around town (Ted 2 and Black Mass), we thought we'd compile a "to-watch" list of films shot in and around Boston. Here are our picks:

The Essentials:

  • Good Will Hunting
  • Mystic River
  • The Departed

The Recent Hits:

  • The Town
  • The Fighter
  • Ted
  • American Hustle
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • The Social Network
  • The Heat

New England History:

  • Glory
  • Amistad
  • Little Women
  • The Crucible

90s Indies:

  • The Boondock Saints
  • Next Stop, Wonderland


  • Jaws
  • The Verdict

Other Favorites:

  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  • Monument Ave
  • Mystery Street
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle

If you're into free outdoor movies, there are six playing tonight alone, including The Fifth Element in Jamaica Plain.

Other options include:

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in Revere
  • Ratatouille in Davis Square
  • Beetlejuice in Dorchester
  • Frozen in Hingham
  • Labyrinth in East Cambridge


August 2014, Back Bay


rain over newbury street  ( @meeshz )

rain over newbury street (@meeshz)

We received one clarification after yesterday's email, about the Boston Braves. After playing at the South End Grounds, the team moved three times (including to Fenway Park for a short time, then to Milwaukee for over a decade) before moving to their current home in Atlanta.

Today's photo comes from Michelle, who now lives in Houston. She told us:

"What I miss most about Boston is being able to walk anywhere at any time. There were so many great restaurants and bars, with so much history and character. The best part is the spaces they inhabited have been around for centuries, with tons of different stories and tenants before them."

Once the Back Bay was filled in in the 1800s, new tenants came swarming in. Although the street is now Boston's retail mecca – the street was originally home to two of our largest educational institutions.

A local technical school, colloquially referred to as "Boston Tech", moved its operations to the up-and-coming Newbury Street in 1865. The school – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – eventually moved from Newbury to Cambridge.

The street was also the original home to Boston's Museum of Natural History, which was located in the building at the corner of Berkeley Street (now home to Restoration Hardware). They moved, too, and became the Museum of Science overlooking the Charles River.

(The first building ever built in the Back Bay – the Emmanuel Church – still stands on Newbury Street, and can be partially seen pictured above.)

See a photo from Newbury Street in the 1950s, along with many other historic Boston locations, at Dirty Old Boston.

August 2014, Roxbury


puddle illusion, ruggles street (sonya kovacic)

The name of Ruggles Station comes from the nearby street, which serves as a border between four Boston neighborhoods: Fenway/Kenmore, Mission Hill, Roxbury, and the South End.

The street itself was named in 1825 after the Ruggles family of Roxbury, who arrived in the town as early as 1637. Although the Ruggles were prominent in the town's early days, they were split on the issue of American Independence. During the war, several members of the family fought on both sides.

In one dramatic incident in 1778, Bathsheba Ruggles (the daughter of Timothy Ruggles, a British loyalist) was convicted and hanged – along with her co-conspirators – for the murder of her husband. Their case was the first instance of capital punishment in America by Americans.

Before the Braves moved to Atlanta, they played at a ballpark located right where Ruggles Station is today. The park – known as the South End Grounds – was described as "having the shape of a bowling alley".

August 2014, South End


at the piano factory, post-snowfall  (sonya kovacic)

at the piano factory, post-snowfall (sonya kovacic)

One of Boston's worst snowstorms was also a bit of a surprise. The Blizzard of 1978 dumped 27.1 over the course of two days in February, which at the time was the most snowfall in the city's recorded history.

The first day of the storm – February 6 – was also the date of the Beanpot Hockey Tournament. That afternoon, 11,666 spectators gathered at Boston Garden to cheer on Harvard, Northeastern, BU, and BC for the annual event. Although the forecasters predicted some snowfall, nobody expected a blizzard.

During the BU/BC game, as the snow continued to pile up, an announcement was made to the Garden:

"Boston is under a state of emergency and anyone taking mass transit should make plans to leave early."

Most of the crowd left, but the game went on. Several fans decided to stay and ended up stranded. About 100 of them were forced to spend the night in the Garden, eating hot dogs, concessions, and drinking beer. Some slept in the skyboxes while others stayed in the locker room.

There ended up being so much snow, that a few spectators didn't make it home until 3 days later.
(The record for the worst blizzard was broken in 2003: we got 27.5 inches over the course of two days.)

  Until 1888, the idea of an underground transit system was considered ludicrous. After the "Great White Hurricane" that year, however, the subway started sounding like a necessity.

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...)

August 2014


segway tour  (sonya kovacic)

segway tour (sonya kovacic)

Boston is the United States' 24th largest city — but we host the 10th highest number of tourists in the country.

We're also home to the 7th most visited attraction in the world: Faneuil Hall. Over 18 million people visit the marketplace every year — which is more than the number of visitors to Paris's Louvre and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art combined.

Even if you live here, it's worth it. Take a duck tour.

August 2014, Winthrop


winthrop, ma from above  (sonya kovacic)

winthrop, ma from above (sonya kovacic)

John Winthrop (1587 – 1649) is considered the Founding Father of Boston, his "city upon a hill".

Winthrop, a Puritan lawyer and English immigrant, helped establish the town of Boston, and served 12 terms as Massachusetts Governor. Although he was enormously influential in the colony's early days (and is still quoted in political speeches today), Winthrop's religious conservatism, intolerance, and anti-democratic principles complicate his legacy. He has been called "a significant founding father of America's best and worst impulses."

Regardless, John Winthrop's legacy lives on. Some local landmarks that bear his name include:


  • The Winthrop Building (skyscraper on Water Street)
  • Winthrop House (Harvard)
  • Winthrop Hall (Bowdoin)
  • The John Winthrop Statue (Back Bay)
  • Founders Memorial (Boston Common)
  • Winthrop Square (Downtown Boston)
  • Winthrop Square (Brookline)
  • Winthrop Square (near Harvard)
  • Winthrop, MA
  • Winthrop, ME

(John Winthrop is also the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather of Secretary of State John Kerry.)

Winthrop, MA is home to the oldest continually-lived-in home in America, which was built by ... Deane Winthrop (John's son). The Deane Winthrop House is included in the list of the oldest buildings in Massachusetts.

Cambridge, August 2014


sidewalk nametag  (sonya kovacic)

sidewalk nametag (sonya kovacic)

Although the first phone call happened in Boston (see our June email), the first "Hello" certainly didn't. In fact, the correct way to answer a telephone call was disputed at the time — between Alexander Graham Bell and one of his rivals, Thomas Edison.

Bell's greeting of choice was nautical: "Ahoy!" (also favored by The Simpsons' Mr. Burns). Edison, on the other hand, was in favor of a word that wasn't typically a greeting, but was instead used to get someone's attention, or express surprise. His greeting — "Hello!" — became widespread, and eventually made it into international guidebooks for using the telephone.

(The guidebooks were not the last word, however. Before "Goodbye" became the standard sign-off, the books suggested the more straightforward "That is all.")

About a hundred years later, one seal at the New England Aquarium learned the word, too. Hoover the Talking Seal became famous for greeting visitors with a Bostonian "Hello theah!"

August 2014, Brookline, transportation


the d line  (sonya kovacic)

the d line (sonya kovacic)

Ever wonder how fast the MBTA's trains are moving? Here are their average speeds, in miles/hour:

21.9 - Red Line (Braintree)
20.2 - Orange Line
19.5 - Green Line (D Branch)
18.3 - Red Line (Ashmont)
15.4 - Blue Line
8.1 - Green Line (E Branch)
7.8 - Green Line (B Branch)
6.9 - Green Line (C Branch)

The fastest human alive, Usain Bolt, has been recorded at a speed of 27.4 mph.

Allston, August 2014


at pikaichi, in allston  (sonya kovacic)

at pikaichi, in allston (sonya kovacic)

Talk about your dreams.

That's how Yume Wo Katare – a ramen restaurant in Porter Square – translates from Japanese. And they mean it. Every facet of the restaurant is designed to uplift.

There are only two dishes available: a heaping serving of ramen served with pork, or a heaping serving of ramen served with extra pork. It's a challenge to complete the whole bowl — but if you do, the staff (and other customers) will applaud you.

If you can't finish, you're consoled with an "almost...".

When WBUR spoke with a server, Makoto Yamamato, he summed it up: "if you can finish this high bowl of ramen, you can do anything in life."

Read the rest of the WBUR article here, or just take a look at bowls of ramen from around the city.

August 2014, Fenway

lone red seat

fenway park  (steve joyce)*

fenway park (steve joyce)*

Today's photo was submitted by Steve Joyce. Steve grew up in the city, and now works as a QA consultant testing mobile apps. He's a father of 3 and a lifelong Red Sox fan

The lone red seat in Fenway Park's right center field signifies the park's longest ever home run. It was a 502-foot-long shot by Ted Williams almost 70 years ago – June 9, 1946.

The home run was a surprise, especially to Joseph Boucher, who was visiting Fenway Park from Albany. When the ball flew into the stands, Boucher was hit squarely on the head — leaving a hole in his straw hat and a small bruise (the hat cushioned most of the blow). Boucher was quoted as saying:

“How far away must one sit to be safe in this park?”

Here's a Bostonology-approved longread: John Updike recounts Ted Williams's last career at-bat, at Fenway, in 1960. (He hit a home run.)

August 2014, Cambridge, Red Line


hmm...*  (sonya kovacic)

hmm...* (sonya kovacic)

Ads on the MBTA have been inciting debate for years. In fact, in 1994, one such controversy reached the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals — one level away from the Supreme Court.

In 1993, the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC) proposed a series of six ads promoting condom use to fight the spread of HIV. The ads contained humorous language deemed offensive by the MBTA, including phrases like "in bed", "the correct appendage", "read this before you get off", and that a condom would make you "1/1000th of an inch larger". The MBTA suggested edits to some and outright rejected the others. Consequently, the AAC filed suit.

The case reached the First Circuit, which ruled in favor of AAC and its freedom of speech. The court decided that the MBTA had established its advertising space as a public forum, and without a compelling state interest, had no right to exclude the AAC's message.

(An example of a compelling state interest would be to protect children from unsuitable material. As AAC argued, however, the MBTA was running sexually suggestive ads for the movie Fatal Instinct — at the exact time the condom ads were rejected.)

Sidenote: There are currently several "compelling" restrictions on MBTA advertising, including alcohol, tobacco, firearms, violence, and nudity.

He was the international "father of spin", a nephew of Sigmund Freud, and is responsible for why we eat bacon for breakfast. Edward Bernays – the controversial PR and advertising pioneer – spent his last days in Cambridge, MA.

August 2014, Cape Cod

the cape

sandwich  (sonya kovacic)

sandwich (sonya kovacic)

If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air,
quaint little villages here and there,
you're sure to fall in love with Old Cape Cod.

If you like the taste of a lobster stew
served by a window with an ocean view,
you're sure to fall in love with Old Cape Cod.

Winding roads that seem to beckon you.
Miles of green beneath the skies of blue.
Church bells chimin' on a sunday morn
remind you of the town where you were born.

If you spend an evening you'll want to stay,
watching the moonlight on Old Cape Cod bay.
You're sure to fall in love with Old Cape Cod.

You're sure to fall in love, in love, in love.
You're sure to fall in love, in love,
with Old Cape Cod, Old Cape Cod.


— Patti Page's 1957 single Old Cape Cod  — the cape's "unofficial anthem".

The cape is a vacationer's paradise, but it's also known as an "ocean graveyard". Thousands of ships have wrecked on its shore since the 17th century, including the Sparrow-Hawk, a vessel dating back to 1626.

The Sparrow-Hawk was lost at sea for two centuries, until being recovered off the coast of Orleans. It's now in the Pilgrim Hall Museum's permanent collection — and remains the only surviving 17th century trans-atlantic vessel in existence.

August 2014, Cambridge


sidewalk chalk, cambridgeport  (sonya kovacic)

sidewalk chalk, cambridgeport (sonya kovacic)

According to Collins English Dictionary, a screever is "a person who draws on the pavement with chalk, and earns money from the donations of passersby". Believe it or not, Massachusetts has an official one.

His name is Robert Charles Guillemin, or "Sidewalk Sam," and he was named "Official Screever of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" in 1984. For good reason, too: Sam has been recreating famous masterpieces – like Michelangelo, van Gogh, and Renoir – on Boston sidewalks since 1973.

Sam studied painting in Boston (BU, BC, and SMFA) and at Paris's École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie de Grande Chaumière. At the age of 31, he left academia to do chalk art in public — he wanted to "bring art to the street and into daily life."

And, he's still at it. Despite a fall in 1994 that left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair, Sidewalk Sam continues to draw, promote public art, and organize chalk art events around the city.

In 2012, BU profiled Sidewalk Sam, including some of his current and past artwork.