May 2015, Brookline

"d" branch

d-line by longwood  (sonya kovacic)

d-line by longwood (sonya kovacic)

Last August we looked at the average speeds of MBTA trains:

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.)

Why is the D branch so much faster than the other Green Line branches? Because it runs completely separate from cars.

According to Boston Streetcars, "the D branch's setup is very similar to that of the Mattapan Line, albeit slightly less scenic. The Mattapan Line runs along a former right-of-way of the Boston and New Haven Railroad, and likewise the D branch runs along a former right-of-way of the Boston and Albany Railroad.

The D branch, like the Mattapan Line, runs completely separate from cars, allowing for speedy and direct service from Newton and Brookline to downtown Boston. When the Boston and Albany Railroad abandoned the Highland Branch, the right-of-way the D branch uses today, in 1958, the MBTA acquired the right-of-way and converted it to run streetcars as opposed to the heavy-rail commuter trains that once ran along the route. New tracks were installed, and overhead wires were constructed above them."

Read why there are still streetcars in Boston.

On April 24th, 2015 the MBTA unveiled the Green Line's first tracking board on the D branch.

April 2015, Brookline

beacon st.

beacon street, brookline   (sonya kovacic)

beacon street, brookline (sonya kovacic)

"When Beacon Street was laid out in 1850-51, it was a narrow county road designed to open up north Brookline to development and to provide access to Boston for businessmen who chose to live outside the city. Its dramatic transformation into a wide boulevard lined by apartment blocks and stores came forty years later. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner John C. Olmsted in 1886, Beacon Street was expanded to include a mass transit system that was the second electric trolley line in the country and the oldest still in continuous operation. This transformation brought about the elimination of virtually all of the farms and single family homes, but gave Brookline one of the most attractive thoroughfares in the Boston area."
-Brookline Preservation Commission.

Take a look at this 1910 photo of Beacon Street. And go here to see more photos.

March 2015, Brookline


brookline boosksmith  writers & readers series   (sonya kovacic)

brookline boosksmith writers & readers series (sonya kovacic)

What is now Emerson College used to be the Boston Conservatory for Elocution, Oratory, and Dramatic Arts. Charles Wesley Emerson, a preacher, orator, and teacher, opened the school in 1880. In 1890, the school changed to the Emerson School of Oratory until it became Emerson College in 1932.

In Werner's Magazine: A Magazine of Expression, Volume 25. Emerson lectures about four elements of power in oratory.

  1. Purity
  2. Luminosity
  3. Adoration
  4. Weight

Another famous orator, Senator Daniel Webster (1782-1852), has a well known painting depicted of him in Faneuil Hall titled, Webster Replying to Senator Hayne. Webster's second reply is considered a classic speech and one of the best in United States history.

In 1986, Emerson College established an LA program. In 2014, Emerson opened its permanent Los Angeles Campus in Hollywood.

Brookline, Technology, January 2014


roomba, brookline

roomba, brookline

The Roomba, an autonomous vacuum cleaner, was introduced in 2002 by Bedford based company, iRobot. iRobot was founded by three MIT roboticists; Colin Angle, Helen Greiner, and Rodney Brooks to make practical robots a reality.

Along with home robots like the Roomba, iRobot makes an automated floor scrubber, floor mop, pool cleaner, and gutter cleaner. They also make robots for businesses and security/defense.

Rosie, is the most commonly used name for the Roomba.

Boston Dynamics, a robotics company recently purchased by Google, created a cheetahrobot that is the fastest legged robot in the world.

A cat in a shark costume chases a duck while riding a roomba, has garnered 7,840,335 views on youtube.

Brookline, December 2014


menorah in brookline (sonya kovacic)

menorah in brookline (sonya kovacic)

According to Wikipedia, the menorah is described in the Bible as the seven-lamp (six branches) ancient Hebrew lampstand made of pure gold and used in the portable sanctuary set up by Moses in the wilderness and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Fresh olive oil of the purest quality was burned daily to light its lamps. The menorah has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and is the emblem on the coat of arms of the modern state of Israel.

Today is the last day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights. The holiday lasts eight days and nights and commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (The Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BCE. The story goes that a small amount of oil burned miraculously for eight nights when the Maccabees rededicated the Jerusalem Temple. During Hanukkah, a nine-branched menorah is used.

In 1983, a 22 foot aluminum menorah, the tallest in New England, was erected in Boston Common. Since then, a public lighting of the menorah occurs annually by the Chabad of Downtown Boston.

In Gloucester, Temple Ahavat Achim created a menorah made out of lobster traps. 

Brookline, culture, December 2014


wedding dress shopping, anthropologie (sonya kovacic)

wedding dress shopping, anthropologie (sonya kovacic)

"Indeed, a slightly salacious folklore grew up around the New England winter, associating it with sexual activity which might anticipate marriage. Esther Burr, writing to a friend in 1755, noted the boom in winter weddings and provided a compelling if unorthodox explanation. "Pray what do you think everybody marries in or about winter for: 'tis quite merry, isn't it? I really believe 'tis fear of laying cold, and for want of a bedfellow." Almanac writers marked November, December, and January as a season of short days and long nights, to be spent in the pleasure of meat, drink, warm fires, and close company."

David Cressy. The Seasonality of Marriage in Old and New England from The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Summer, 1985), pp. 1-21

The most popular season for weddings in 17th and 18th century New England was in late fall/winter (peaking in November and December). There were very few weddings in the summer because New England weddings followed the agrarian calendar and from July-September, New Englanders were hard at work harvesting grain and corn. Late fall/winter on the other hand was a good time to get married because there was a surplus of food, and lots of time to kill.

Boston didn't follow the same wedding pattern as the rest of New England because it was relatively independent from the agrarian calendar (as it had many more forms of industry); allowing weddings to be more evenly distributed throughout the year. 

Take a look at a wedding dress from Bostonian Elizabeth Bull from 1730. Bull was 14 when she stitched the dress. 

Brookline, November 2014


friendsgiving (erika jubinville)

friendsgiving (erika jubinville)

Today's photo comes from Erika Jubinville who lives in Brookline. Erika has this to say about Boston:

"What do I love about Boston? The food! Where I hang out in the city pretty much depends on what I'm in the mood to eat. There's always a new place to try and old favorites to keep going back to. I also have my car here and love zipping around from one neighborhood to the next in search of something yummy."

The first Thanksgiving was said to have occurred in Plymouth in 1621 between the Puritans and the Wampanoag people. The menu would have looked a lot different and included seafood and deer.

Thanksgiving didn't become a national holiday until Sarah Josepha Hale came into the picture. Responsible for raising funds for the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument,and author of "Mary had a little Lamb", Hale convinced President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday as a way to unite the country during the Civil War.

On Thanksgiving day in 1970, the first National Day of Mourning protest occurred in Plymouth. The United American Indians of New England (UAINE) organized the protest to raise awareness about the Native American experience during colonial puritan times.

Popular podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class, has an episode titled How the First Thanksgiving Worked.

Brookline, November 2014


vintage coat tag* (sonya kovacic)

vintage coat tag* (sonya kovacic)

The city upon a hill was founded by a group of Puritans from England  in 1630. Since then, immigrants from all over the world have made Boston their home.

According to the most recent demographic report from the city of Boston in 2009:

Irish and Italian are the first and second leading ancestries. Their recorded number decreased between 1990 and 2007, by 33.4% and 30.7%, respectively.
Puerto Ricans are the third leading ancestry. Their reported number increased by 12.7%, between 1990
Over the last two decades the share of Boston’s foreign-born population has increased at a faster pace than Massachusetts and the U.S.
In 1990, 114,597 immigrants accounted for 20% of the city’s total population.
In 2007, Boston had 608,352 residents, with the foreign born accounting for almost 28% of that population.
Boston’s foreign-born population comes predominantly from the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa and represents more than 100 different countries.
Caribbean immigrants make up almost 53% of all immigrants from the Americas.
Chinese immigrants make up the largest share of Boston’s immigrants.
Since 1990, the Latino population has increased by 53.6% and the Asian population by 71.1%
Boston had the 5th highest proportion of foreign-born residents among the 25 largest U.S. cities in 2007.

*I'm a first-generation American. My family emigrated from the Former Yugoslavia in the 1980's. 

This past spring and summer, the Boston Public Library had an exhibition titled the City of Neighborhoods. The exhibition compares the neighborhoods of today’s “new” Boston with those of 100 years ago. The 45 photos, objects, and maps, many of which are based on recent census data, show us where newer immigrant groups have settled and how the streets and features of a neighborhood reflect who lives and works there.

Blake Gumprecht, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at UNH, had a map in the exhibition. His collection of maps, Peopling of New England, are found on flickr. 

Jamaica Plain, Brookline, Institutions, Bridge, November 2014


waiting for the 66 under the jamaicaway overpass (sonya kovacic)

waiting for the 66 under the jamaicaway overpass (sonya kovacic)

"Parkways are an integral part of Olmsted’s design of the Emerald Necklace. Originally laid out as carriage roads, the parkways were intended as pleasure routes following the meanderings of the Muddy River, connecting the parks from the Back Bay Fens in the heart of the city to the more rural Franklin Park. Although the parkways have become major commuter routes, they continue to provide scenic glimpses into the parks and a more verdant experience for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians."

-Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Jamaicaway is a four lane parkway in Jamaica Plain, connecting the Riverway and Arborway parkways. The parkway has become a popular route for cars and its windy and narrow roads have caused many accidents.

The Jamaicaway overpass was constructed as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1934 (part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal). On the night of its opening, in August 1936, heavy rain caused damage, and the overpass was closed for repairs until the spring of 1938.

The Jamaicaway Towers and Town Houses is a 30 foot residential building that stands out in the JP landscape. Constructed in the 1960's, it was controversial at the time. Read the Jamaica Plain Gazette story and see a couple of before and after photos.

Brookline, October 2014

free hospital for women

former site of the free hospital for women, brookline (sonya kovacic)

former site of the free hospital for women, brookline (sonya kovacic)

The Free Hospital for Women (FHW), a predecessor to Brigham and Women's Hospital, was founded in 1875 by Dr. William Henry Baker. Baker wanted a hospital dedicated to treating diseases that inflicted women after serving as a surgical resident under Dr. James Marion Sims (founder of the New York Hospital for Women). With help from physicians and various philanthropists, FHW offered free medical care to poor women and served as a teaching hospital to Harvard Medical School.

In the beginning, the hospital sat on East Springfield Street in the South End and was home to one of the first cancer wards in the country. Due to increased demand, it moved to a larger facility in Brookline in 1895. In 1966, FHW merged with the Boston-Lying-in Hospital to form the Boston Hospital for Women (BHW).

The Boston Lying-In Hospital was founded in 1832 and has an interesting history of its own. According to Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine, "many advances in the practice of obstetrics in the United States were pioneered by staff at the Boston Lying-in Hospital, including the use of anesthesia for labor pain, using rubber gloves and washing hands to prevent infection, outpatient services, heated bassinets for premature infants, and a nurse training school. The hospital also established pre-natal care clinics, standards for cesarean section procedures, cardiac care for pregnant women, and preventative medicine for newborns. The first RH factor in blood was also identified at BLI. These advances produced a steady, and often dramatic, drop in both maternal and fetal mortality rates over the course of its 134 years of independent operation."

In 1980, Boston Hospital for Women merged with Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Robert Breck Brigham Hospital to form Brigham and Women's Hospital. The former site of the FHW in Brookline was converted into luxury condos in 1989. 

There is a scrapbook from the Free Hospital for Women Papers (1879-1969), that consists of newspaper clippings, publications, photographs, ration cards, posters, and other archival goodies.

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, 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.

Brookline, June 2014


voting line, brookline  (sonya kovacic)

voting line, brookline (sonya kovacic)

This year, gerrymandering turns 202: 

In 1812, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill to redraw the state senate voting districts. The new, oddly shaped districts were clearly rigged — all to benefit Gerry's political party (the Democratic-Republicans).

According to a political cartoon in the Boston Gazette, one of the districts resembled the shape of a curved salamander – it wrapped in an "L"-shape from Chelsea to Methuen around to the coastal town of Salisbury. It was captioned "The Gerry-mander."

The Gazette's cartoon was widely reprinted, and the term – used to describe the practice of manipulating political districts – was officially coined. 

Despite being a pivotal city in the United States' women's suffrage movement, Boston also produced the country's first anti-suffrage organization. The Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women (also known by its catchy acronym MAOFESW) was founded in 1895, and published a regular "anti" newsletter: The Remonstrance.

Brookline, June 2014, trees


tree silhouette, brookline  (sonya kovacic)

tree silhouette, brookline (sonya kovacic)

A city's tree canopy cover is the amount of its land covered by leaves, trees, and stems when viewed from above. It can be calculated to a percentage, and Boston's canopy (around 29%) is higher than the national average — as well as that of New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Boston has also started an campaign – Grow Boston Greener – which aims to grow the canopy cover to 35%. The initiative, launched in 2007, will help plant 100,000 new trees in the city by 2020.

The You Are Here project publishes one unique digital map every day. You can view their first six Cambridge maps online, including an interactive look at the city's street greenery.

Brookline, May 2014


column and pediment on beacon street, brookline  (sonya kovacic)

column and pediment on beacon street, brookline (sonya kovacic)

pediment (ˈpe-də-mənt) noun: the triangular upper part of the front of a building in classical style, typically surmounting a portico of columns

Only in Boston will you find a pediment — inspired by a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes — igniting controversy.