October 2014

Cambridge, October 2014

halloween

halloween decorations, cambridge (sonya kovacic)

halloween decorations, cambridge (sonya kovacic)

"In Colonial days Hallowe'en was not celebrated much in America. Some English still kept the customs of the old world, such as apple-ducking and snapping, and girls tried the apple-paring charm to reveal their lovers' initials, and the comb-and-mirror test to see their faces. Ballads were sung and ghost-stories told, for the dead were thought to return on Hallowe'en."

-The Book of Hallowe'en by Ruth Edna Kelley (Lynn native).

Today, Halloween is the second most popular holiday in the United States. The National Retail Federation projects Americans will spend $7.4 billion this year on candy, costumes, and decorations. For those curious to know what the most popular chocolate candy was in 2013, here's a list:

1. Reese’s – $509.85 million
2. M&M’s – $500.82 million
3. Snickers  – $456.91 million
4. Hershey’s  – $324.63 million
5. Kit Kat – $306.51 million
6. Twix 4 To Go – $116.13 million
7. 3 Musketeers– $101.27 million
8. Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme– $100.7 million
9. Milky Way – $93.46 million
10. Almond Joy  – $82.25 million


Check out a photo from October 31, 1963, of John F Kennedy's kids in costume in the Oval Office. 

October 2014, People

menino

tributes (sonya kovacic)

tributes (sonya kovacic)

Thomas M. Menino, the longest serving mayor in Boston history, died today. RIP former mayor.


On November 10, 2013, Thomas M. Menino wrote an article about the lessons he learned during his 20 year career as mayor of Boston. It's a fitting tribute. 

October 2014, Reader Submission, sports

celtics

the truth and the big ticket* (jfceltics)

the truth and the big ticket* (jfceltics)

Today's photo comes from Jenny from the North End. Jenny is an HR professional and an avid Celtics fan. She has this to say about Boston:

"I love how much heart and pride our residents have. From our amazing sports, to community/neighborhood pride, to top universities, top hospitals, musicians/bands, and even movie filming locations - Bostonians are incredibly proud of what we have and come together to show our love and strength of our city. Bostonians think the most of Boston and believe that they can't be broken."


Today is the first game of the 2014-2015 regular season for the Boston Celtics as they play the Brooklyn Nets. This may be a rebuilding year but the Celtics have a long history of winning. Having formed in 1946, they've won more championships (17) than any other team in NBA history. In the 1960's they won the championship every year except 1967.

The two most celebrate players in Celtics history are Bill Russell and Larry Bird. Bill Russell was a 6 feet 10 inch center who played from 1956-1969. He was best known for his defensive abilities especially rebounding, and for leading the team to 11 championships in his 13 year career. Russell was also the first black NBA coach when he was both player and coach from 1966-1969. Larry Bird, a forward, was best known for his court vision, drive, leadership, and clutch performances. He played from 1979-1992 and won 3 championships. Both players had notable NBA rivalries. Bill Russell's was with Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird's was with Magic Johnson.

Another Celtics legend was coach Red Aurbach, who managed the Celtics from 1950-1966. He won 9 championships as a coach and then won another 7 championships as general manager and team president. He helped modernize basketball with emphasis on team play and defense and was said to have invented the fast break. He drafted Chuck Cooper, the first black basketball player in 1950, and had the NBA's first all black starting five in 1964. His brother Zang was also involved with the Celtics - he designed the Celtics Logo in the 1950's. The logo is a drawing of a leprechaun with a bowler hat, smoking a pipe, and holding a shillelagh (a wooden club). 

*Number 34, Paul Pierce (The Truth), played 15 seasons for the Celtics and now plays for the Washington Wizards. Number 5, Kevin Garnett (The Big Ticket/KG), played 6 seasons for the Celtics and now plays for the Brooklyn Nets. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen were part of the "Big 3" that helped Boston win a championship in 2008 - the first championship since 1986.


Watch a 1956 video of Bill Russell jumping over a guy before making a layup. 

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.

October 2014, Nature, Reader Submission, Roxbury

honeybees

best bees (noah-wilson rich)

best bees (noah-wilson rich)

Curated by Noah-Wilson Rich



General honey bee facts:

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are of tremendous economic and ecological importance. As pollinators of over 100 crops (including almonds, blueberries, avocados, broccoli, lemons, limes, and cucumbers), honey bees contribute an estimated $14.6 billion per year to the American economy.
Research using honey bees as an experimental study system has contributed to our understanding of an interdisciplinary range of subjects, including animal communication, genomics, evolution, immunology, agriculture, aging, economics, and even mathematical modeling.
Honey bees are dying. The number of honey bee colonies not surviving winters is increasing annually.

 
Boston honey bee facts:

Honey bees in Boston and Cambridge are more productive and have better survival rates than bees outside the cities.
Bees can fly for miles, so one beehive in Boston can cover reach nearly all the city’s community gardens to pollinate them.
It only takes about a 2 x 3 foot space for a beehive, and they’re in many of the city's rooftops, decks, and gardens.
Restaurants and hotels in the city with beehives and fresh, hyperlocal honey production include: The Gallows, The Beehive, Beat Hôtel, Miel, Four Season Boston, Taj Boston, The Liberty Hotel, Fairmont Copley Plaza, Fairmont Battery Wharf, American Provisions, and more.


To learn more about honey bees and urban beekeeping watch this talk.

Interested in a honey bee hive for yourself or for your business? Go here.

Back Bay, October 2014, transportation

storrow

storrow drive without traffic (sonya kovacic)

storrow drive without traffic (sonya kovacic)

Some readers may be stuck in traffic on Storrow Drive on their way home today. Ironically if James Storrow, who the parkway was named after, had his way, there would be no Storrow Drive. 

James Storrow (1864-1926) was a prominent investment banker from Boston. He was business partners with Henry Higginson (founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), was the third president of General Motors, and the second president of the Boys Scouts of America. His wife Helen Storrow, (1864-1944) also led a prolific life. She was a philanthropist who among other things was involved in the Girls Scouts of America. Both of the Storrows were passionate about parks and land preservation and helped develop the Charles River Esplanade. Esplanade means "flat promenade along a shore" in French.

According to Linda M. Cox's book, The Charles River Esplanade, our Boston Treasure:before the esplanade the "Charles river was still a tidal estuary, rising and falling nearly ten feet. The mudflats at low tide exposed revolting sights and smells: raw sewage, waste from factories, offal from slaughterhouses The fashionable riverside homes on Beacon Street (on new-filled land) were separated from all this by a narrow road, sometimes flooded at high tide." Thanks to Storrow and others, legislation approved the esplanade project in 1903, and in 1910 the project started. After James died in 1926, Helen donated a million dollars in his name to enlarge the esplanade with the stipulation that there be no road.

Five years after Helen's death, a road was built anyways. Storrow Drive was approved by legislation in 1949 as a way to alleviate traffic in the Back Bay and in 1951, construction began. Storrow Drive is a four lane highway through the Esplanade between Leverett Circle and Soldiers field near the Boston University Bridge. It sees over 100,000 cars a day.


A postcard sent on December 4th, 1947, only 4 years before the construction of Storrow Drive, shows what the esplanade used to look like. 

October 2014, East Boston

madonna

madonna queen of the universe shrine, east boston (mattybonez69)

madonna queen of the universe shrine, east boston (mattybonez69)

Today's photo comes from Matt, a nursing student living in Cambridge. Matt has this to say about Boston: 

"These are a few of my favorite things: When the celts win, when the pats win. when the snow melts, and the marathon is around the corner. Pride. Loyalty. Attitude. Accents. Italian Subs. Fenway. Dunkies. Paul Pierce in the wheelchair. The Mass Pike. Sox hats. The common without an s. Threes up. Boston."


The Madonna Queen of the Universe Shrine on 150 Orient Avenue in East Boston, has one of the best views of Boston. After almost 12 years of construction, the Shrine was completed on October 7, 1977 and contains a 35 foot copper and bronze Madonna statue that used to stand in front of the Don Orione Home, a home for the elderly. The Don Orione Home still exists today and is part of the Sons of the Divine Providence-Don Orione Fathers.

The Madonna statue is a full size replica of the original La Madonna di Monte Mario in Rome, Italy. La Madonna di Monte Mario was created by Jewish-Italian sculptor, Arrigo Minerbi, who escaped the Nazis during WWII by dressing up as a priest for the Don Orione Order. Biagio Farese, a popular Italian American radio announcer from Boston, and John Volpe (later Governor of Massachusetts), visited Rome and asked Minerbi if he would create a replica for the Don Orione Home. Minerbi enthusiastically agreed and even offered his services for free.

The Shrine is open Tuesday to Sunday and masses are held in English, Spanish, and Portuguese that reflect the influx of immigrants from Latin America into East Boston - once a predominately Italian American community.


See the archived photo of the Madonna statue being transported to Boston in 1954

Cambridge, October 2014, Street art

not art

not art, mass ave * (sonya kovacic)

not art, mass ave * (sonya kovacic)

"What does it take to make something art? Do you have to just move it? Or do you have to bring it into a gallery? Or maybe, you just have to see it and witness it as art so by finding these objects and seeing them I think that we all, all the time, make art just by perceiving things as such; or even if we are not seeing it as art, we are seeing it as beautiful." 

-Somerville artist responsible for the Not Art installation in a WGBH interview.

The anonymous artist has been spray painting Not Art onto street signs, construction sites, statues, building facades, and other public areas for around eight years. The reaction from the public has ranged from vehement anger to comparisons to Banksy- the famous and anonymous English street/graffiti artist. Whatever the reaction, it is doing what the artist wants, which is catalyzing conversations about the nature of art.

*This photo was taken on August 30, 2013. Since then, the stencil has been painted over. 


To hear the WGBH interview with the anonymous artist go here. 

If you want to see more Not Art stencils, there is a Flickr group dedicated to them.

October 2014, Jamaica Plain

fire alarm

fire alarm call box, jamaica plain (sonya kovacic)

fire alarm call box, jamaica plain (sonya kovacic)

Boston was the first city in the country to implement the use of fire alarm call boxes in 1851 before the invention of the telephone. Invented by Moses Farmer, an engineer from New Hampshire, and William Channing, a Harvard-educated doctor, the call boxes work by sending an electronic signal to the fire department when pulled that allows the fire department to pinpoint the location of that particular box.

Remaining largely unchanged from its original design, the call box has a dedicated, uninterrupted power source and is operational even when power is out and cellular networks are down. The main difference from the initial design is that anyone can pull the call box lever (which cause false alarms around 90% of the time). Before, the call boxes required a key to unlock and designated neighborhood watch-standers would be notified when there was a fire, and they would  unlock the call box to pull the lever.

Boston is one of the few cities that continue to use the fire call box today and they are found on street corners all over the city.


If you were ever wondering where every fire alarm call box in Boston was located, you can check here.

October 2014

within these walls

within these walls (peter gorman)

within these walls (peter gorman)

Today's email comes from Bostonology co-founder Peter Gorman, who is currently on a one-year solo bicycle trip around the country. You can follow his adventure at www.packpedal.com and on Instagram at @400closeups


Guess what's currently on view at the Smithsonian in Washington: a 200-year old house from Ipswich, MA. 

When the home was vacated in the 1960s and scheduled to be bulldozed, historians in Ipswich contacted the Smithsonian Institution in order to preserve it. The museum agreed, and actually took the house apart, shipped it to DC, and reconstructed it inside of American History Museum. 

The exhibition tells the story of America's history through the eyes of the five families who inhabited the house over its two centuries.


The exhibition can be accessed online, at the museum's website.

South End, Reader Submission, October 2014

south end

west canton street (holly ann paisa)

west canton street (holly ann paisa)

Today's photo comes from Holly from the Back Bay. Holly works in research administration and has this to say about Boston:

"I love that Boston is a "small' big city. You get the best of both worlds. The fun events, great nightlife, and professional/educational opportunities that you'd expect in a large city but with Boston being so walkable, everything is easily accessible and with all the small shops and local restaurants, you get a real sense of community in the different neighborhoods."


The story of the South End neighborhood is the story of Boston's socio, political, cultural, environmental, and economic transitions, starting in the 19th century. In the early 1800's, the prominent federalist era architect, Charles Bulfinch, envisioned a new residential community in Boston that was modeled after the 18th century English style; brick bay-window townhouses, iron fences, individual, gardens, and public parks and fountains. In 1849 there was an urgent need for a residential neighborhood to alleviate the populous downtown and Beacon Hill neighborhoods and the tidal marsh, where the South End sits, was filled.

The South End was designed for wealthy middle class people, and excluded a commercial center and instead created numerous squares filled with parks. Boston put restrictions on the type of buildings that could be built so the architecture stayed mainly consistent with townhouses that included the architectural styles of the Greek Revival Style, Second Empire Style, Renaissance Revival Style, Mansard Italianate Style, High Victorian Gothic.

In the 1870's, thanks to the  economic panic of 1873, and the back bay being filled, the wealthy middle class fled the area and the South End became a tenement district for immigrants including Germans, Irish, French Canadians Russian Jews and later Syrians, Lebanese, Greeks, Armenians, Italians, and Lithuanians. It also became a popular place for businesses and industries (including the Chickering Piano Factory). After WWI, blacks from the south joined the small but established community of middle class blacks and the corner of Mass Ave and Columbus Ave became the center of jazz. After WWII, there was a need for post war housing and in the 40's the LGBT community began moving into the area. In the 1960's, the Puerto Rican community helped create the Villa Victoria. After the 60's the South End was abandoned once again after immigrants and working class people moved to the suburbs but recently, in the past few decades, the South End has become a trendy and expensive place to live again.

The 1950's urban renewal of the West End neighborhood created the desire to preserve the South End instead of destroy it. Years later, in 1973, the South End was listed on the National Register of Historic places as the largest remaining Victorian urban residential neighborhood in the United States and in 1983, was named a Boston Landmark District.


Interested to see what historical South End buildings look from the inside? The South End Historical Society is hosting their 46th annual South End House Tour where you can visit 6 Private Homes and 4 Public Spaces.

South Boston Waterfront, October 2014, Landmark

hood

hood milk bottle, fort point (sonya kovacic)

hood milk bottle, fort point (sonya kovacic)

After yesterday's email one of our subscribers, Robert McGovern, told us about another T.rex in the area - the orange T.rex that resides at the mini golf course on Route 1 Saugaus. -  Thanks Rob!


The iconic Hood milk bottle has been in Fort Point since 1977, two years before the Children's Museum moved to Fort Point from JP. HP Hood, a dairy company founded in Charlestown and currently operating in Lynnfield, bought and refurbished the big milk bottle before donating it to the Children's Museum. Previously the milk bottle was used as an ice cream stand in Taunton. The bottle is 40 feet tall, 18 feet in diameter and weighs 15,000 pounds - and if it was a real milk bottle it would hold around 58,620 gallons of milk.

Hood has another well known structure in Boston - the Hood blimp. The blimp flies over Red Sox games in the summer, is approximately the length of three school buses, and even has its own twitter page.


In 2010, the Boston Police Department started a campaign called Operation Hoodsie Cupas a way to engage the community. Every summer since, the BPD ice cream truck has circled around different Boston neighborhoods giving out hoodsie cups. 

Cambridge, October 2014, Museum

t.rex

t.rex model outside the museum of science (sonya kovacic)

t.rex model outside the museum of science (sonya kovacic)

"This full-size Tyrannosaurus rex model was made in the 1960's. At that time only five T. rex skeletons had ever been found. All were incomplete, leaving many questions about this prehistoric animal unanswered. Since then paleontologists have uncovered more than 25 additional T.rex skeletons, including some that are nearly compete. These skeletons have provided new evidence that has changed what scientists today think T.rex was actually like. This model from the 1960's does not represent the new findings, but the new T.rex model displayed inside the Museum does. Differences to notice include how each model stands and the position of the front claws."

-Plaque in front of the T.rex model.


Want to see a 20 foot T.rex made out of more than 100,000 LEGO pieces? The Art of the Brick, a new exhibition in Quincy Hall by artist Nathan Sawaya, has a collection of sculptures made out of LEGO pieces.

Cambridge, October 2014

circus

the red train (sonya kovacic)

the red train (sonya kovacic)

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, formed in 1919, has three distinct tours (red, blue, and gold) that travel the United States by train 11 months of the year, stopping at more than 90 cities and carrying animals, circus performers, and gear.

P.T Barnum, the eccentric promoter and co founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, has unique ties to Boston. At one point he was involved in the Boston Aquarial Gardens, one of the first aquariums in the United States, and as a trustee and benefactor of Tufts University, is responsible for Jumbo the elephant becoming the university's mascot.

According to Tufts University's website, P.T Barnum, donated Jumbo's stuffed hide to Tufts after he was killed by a train in Canada. Jumbo's hide was put on display in the Barnum Museum of Natural History (now Barnum Hall) and was eventually adopted as the university's mascot.

After a fire in 1975 burned down Barnum Hall and Jumbo inside, only the tail and ashes were left. The ashes were collected in an empty peanut butter jar and to this day athletes rub the jar for good luck and there is a ceremonial passing of the ashes with each new athletic director.


Look into circus posters from the boston public library

Somerville, October 2014

cookies

simply irresistible (sonya kovacic)

simply irresistible (sonya kovacic)

The chocolate chip cookie was invented 20 miles outside of Boston in the south shore town of Whitman. The story goes that in the 1930's, Ruth Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Inn along with her husband Kenneth, decided to put Nestle semi sweet chocolate bits into her cookie dough. The Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie became an instant hit with her customers, and after Nestle saw their sales spike, asked Ruth for the rights to her recipe. Ruth sold her recipe to Nestle for one dollar for an unlimited supply of chocolate and for her original recipe to be printed on Nestle cookie dough packaging.


Sweet Idea, a late night cookie delivery service in Boston, lets you send your family and friends a cookiegram.

October 2014, Kenmore

square

kenmore square (sonya kovacic)

kenmore square (sonya kovacic)

Oak Square in Brighton, named after a big oak tree, intersects Nonantum and Faneuil Streets. William P. Marchione describes the tree in his book, Images of America, Allston-Brighton:

"The Great White Oak, from which Oak Square derives its name was a remarkable tree. A committee appointed in 1837 to survey the state's botanical and zoological resources found it to be the largest white oak in the commonwealth. An 1845 report noted that "it had probably passed its prime centuries before the first English voice was heard on the shores of Massachusetts. Another description stated, "the cavity of the trunk is capable of sheltering twenty children at one time, as is well known to have been the case." The ancient tree was taken down in the mid 1850's. A measurement just prior to its destruction gave the circumference at the base as nearly 30 feet."


This Sunday, Harvard Square in Cambridge will be having its 36th annual Oktoberfest and HONK! Parade. There will be food from all over the world, six stages of live music, five beer gardens, street vendors, children's activities, crafts, vintage goods, and more.

October 2014, parks, Beacon Hill

golden dome

view from the commons (sonya kovacic)

view from the commons (sonya kovacic)

The Massachusetts State House was built in 1798 on what was once the property of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' first governor, John Hancock. The current building is the result of two major expansions in 1895 and 1917.  The iconic dome, part of the original construction, was first constructed as an entirely wooden dome. When the dome leaked, the Revere Copper Company (Paul Revere's company) was contracted to cover the dome in copper.

The golden dome, as we know it, came to be in 1874.  Despite what some might think, it is actually gilded with gold foil. The dome was painted gray during World War II to avoid being an easy target for potential enemy bombers. It was most recently re-gilded in 1997 to give the vibrant color we see today.


A golden pine cone sits atop the cupola on the highest point of the golden dome. The pine cone is a tribute to Maine (once a part of Massachusetts) and the timber industry's contribution to Boston's early development.

October 2014, South End

piano factory

apt w117 (sonya kovacic)

apt w117 (sonya kovacic)

The Piano Factory, located on 791 Tremont street in the South End, is currently a stylish loft apartment building. But its history is interesting. Originally it was built by Chickering and Sons, an American piano manufacturer, in 1853, after a deadly fire destroyed the first factory on 336 Washington Street. From 1860-1868, the building housed the Spencer Repeating Rifle Company that supplied rifles during the Civil War, and in 1972, it was renovated into artist studios. 

Before Chickering and Sons, there was Chickering and MacKay, a partnership between Jonas Chickering and John MacKay. John MacKay, a businessman and sea captain, died at sea in 1841 on a trip to South America to get wood for piano cases. Eventually his portion of the company was bought out by the Chickering family.


Although no longer solely artist studios, the Piano Factory does have an art gallery in the front and a theater in the back.

East Boston, October 2014

bowling

central park lanes, east boston (emmaobie)

central park lanes, east boston (emmaobie)

Today's photo comes from Emma who lives in Jamaica Plain and works in sports marketing and event management. Her favorite thing about Boston:

"Summer. Boston comes alive in the summer. With the college kids back home, and the city's population cut in half, you have more space to explore with less crowds! You can go to outdoor movie nights on Boston Harbor or in Jamaica Plain, purchase cool vintage finds and hit up the food trucks at SOWA, dance outside at ICA First Fridays or simply enjoy the city's green space at Jamaica Pond, the Public Garden or Boston Common."


Candlepin bowling, a popular form of bowling in New England, was invented in Worcester (40 miles from Boston) in the late 1800's by two men, Justin "Pop" White, and John J. "Jack" Monsey. White owned a pool and bowling business where many different types of pins were used depending on the  customer's preferences. He found the "ten-pin" (regular bowling) to be too easy and boring so he started experimenting with taller and thinner pins, and smaller balls (without holes) that became very popular. Monsey was responsible for standardizing the game and changing the size of the ball to the current size of 4 1/2 inches. Currently, the pins are 15 3/4 inches in length. Candlepin differs from ten-pin bowling not only in the size of the ball and pins, but also in scoring; each round has three balls instead of two, and the pins are only cleared after each round.

At the time, pinboys and pingirls would reset the pins but they could never reset the pins exactly the same way each time. In the late 1940's, two attorneys from Massachusetts, Howard Dowd and Lionel Barrow, helped change that when they created automatic pinsetters for candlepin.


Want to bowl outside? Langone Park, in the North End/Waterfront, has three Bocce (Italian form of lawn bowling) regulation sized courts. Be prepared to wait in line though, as it is a popular place for locals.

October 2014

aquarium

myrtle (sonya kovacic)

myrtle (sonya kovacic)

Myrtle, the turtle, an 80ish year old sea turtle weighing around 550 pounds has been in the New England Aquarium since its beginning, having moved  from the Provincetown Aquarium in 1970. The New England Aquarium was not the first aquarium in Boston; in fact there were three prior to it.

Jerry Ryan, author of "The Forgotten Aquariums of Boston," chronicles the eccentric history of Boston aquariums starting with the 1859 opening of the Aquarial Gardens on Bromfield street (across from the Granary Burying Ground); one of the first public aquariums in the world. Admission was 35 cents and 15 cents for children under 10. Along with fish tanks, there was a balcony where musicians played background music, and even a seal pool where Ned and Fanny, the "learned" seals performed a variety of charming acts including playing a hand organ.

In 1860, the Boston Aquarial Gardens moved to Central Court, off of Washington Street and became known as the Boston Aquarial Gardens and Zoological Gardens. Shortly after, the great central tank was constructed. The central tank was 30 inches in diameter, 6 inches deep, and contained around 22,000 gallons of water that at one point housed a beluga whale, a dolphin and tropical fish. A stage used for scientific lectures occupied the upper hall of the Gardens, but at times was also used for musical performances, plays, vaudeville acts, and freak shows.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1912, almost 50 years after the closing of the Aquarial and Zoological Gardens, the City of Boston built the South Boston Aquarium as part of the envisioned marina park. The aquarium shut down in 1954 and in 1969, the non-profit New England Aquarium opened in the waterfront and currently has over a million visitors a year.


The New England Aquarium offers a live feed of their Caribbean coral reef exhibit. From your desk, you can pretend you're snorkeling in the Caribbean.