South Boston

April 2015, South Boston

street signs

intersection, south boston  (sonya kovacic)

intersection, south boston (sonya kovacic)

Have you ever wondered why street signs are green? I called the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) to find out. Green has been the standard color for directional signs since the mid 1960's. Although federal standards allow for other colors for street signs, like blue and brown, it has been Mass DOT's policy to use green because it is the best color for uniformity among directional signs.

The naming of signs though is determined by the local municipality, and Boston has had a frustrating history. Here is a March 29, 1890 Boston Evening Transcript article  by Thomas Addison writing that, "Boston, no doubt, distances her sister cities in many departments of intellectual effort, but there is one in which she is signally deficient- the science of street nomenclature. Indeed, she is so far behind other great cities of the world in this respect that one is at a loss to account for it."

He goes on to write, "that, of the (in round numbers) 2600 streets comprised within the limits of Boston, some 455 streets, or nearly a tenth of the entire number, are duplicates in name of a large percentage of the remaining 2145 streets. To be more explicit there are 325 streets in the city that are multiplied in name from one to six Boston there are twice as many genuine duplicates of street names as can be found put together in the four great representative cities of London, Paris, New York, and Chicago, with fifteen times the number of streets contained in Boston!"

Who did it effect the most? The Post Office. "The Post office authorities, in particular are loud and bitter in complaint against the ridiculous confusion of street names, and have been forced to compile a directory, or "Scheme of Separation," as it is entitled for the assistance of the perplexed "sorters."

Think you know what the most popular street name in Massachusetts is? Go here to find out. has a street book where you can search through a list of Boston's streets, avenues, courts, and other public locations.

March 2015, South Boston

ice cream

waiting for ice cream, south boston  (sonya kovacic)

waiting for ice cream, south boston (sonya kovacic)

J.P Licks was founded in Jamaica Plain in 1981 by then 26 year old Vince Petryk. The ice cream store was a popular hangout for Mass College of Art students, which is one reason why J.P Licks has a funky vibe. They are known for their interesting flavors, including a flavor for this month called the Leprechaun Brew, which includes local Sam Adams beer blended into a green seasonal ice cream.

Presently there are 13 J.P Licks stores, all within 15 miles of the original store.

J.P Licks is a big part of the Jamaica Plain landscape but before,  659 Centre Street, housed Brueggers Bagels and the Arts Center.

South Boston, February 2015


a parrot in southie  (sonya kovacic)

a parrot in southie (sonya kovacic)

According to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The Black-Capped Chickadee (Penthestes atricapillus) was adopted as the state bird by the Massachusetts Legislature on March 21, 1941. It is also known as the titmouse, tomtit, and the dickybird, and it is one of the most familiar of the North American birds. It is from four to five inches in size, its tail accounting for nearly half its length. The general coloring is ashy-grey, the back having a brownish tinge; the crown, nape, chin, and throat are black, and the cheeks white. It nests in a stump, tree, or fence post close to the ground, and broods twice a year. It is a cheerful bird and has a pleasing call: "Chick-adee-dee-dee".

Violinist/composer Andrew Bird and artist Ian Schneller partnered to create the installation, Sonic Arboretum. You can see it at the ICA.

As a parody of the popular blog, Humans of New York, A.R. Pellowski made a blog titled Pigeons Of Boston"Telling the stories and sharing the portraits of the millions of pigeons that reside in Boston, one at a time."

South Boston, February 2015


conley container terminal, south boston  (sonya kovacic)

conley container terminal, south boston (sonya kovacic)

According to Massport:

The Port of Boston is the oldest continually active port in the Western Hemisphere, and New England’s maritime hub. The Port of Boston’s activity supports more than 50,000 jobs, and contributes more than $4.6 billion to the local, regional, and national economies through direct, indirect, and induced impact.

Massport facilities are the port’s lifeblood for containerized cargo, vacation cruises and Boston’s commercial fishing fleet.

The Port of Boston also hosts privately owned petroleum and liquefied natural gas terminals, which supply more than 90% of Massachusetts' heating and fossil fuel needs.

  Massport (who also operates Logan Airport) helped fund the silver line.

If you're daydreaming about being anywhere but Boston, here is a 2015 cruise schedule from Boston's cruiseport.

Take a look at a map of Boston's Designated Port Areas (DPA)

South Boston, February 2015


seagull on castle island  (brian mclean)

seagull on castle island (brian mclean)

"Joe Gould was an odd and penniless and unemployable little man who came to the city in 1916 and ducked and dodged and held on as hard as he could for over thirty-five years. He was a member of one of the oldest families in New England ("The Goulds were the Goulds," he used to say, "when the Cabots and the Lowells were clamdiggers"), he was born and brought up in a town near Boston in which his father was a leading citizen, and he went to Harvard, as did his father and grandfather before him, but he claimed that until he arrived in New York City he had always felt out of place. "In my home town" he once wrote, "I never felt at home. I stuck out. Even in my own home, I never felt at home. In New York City, especially in Greenwich Village, down among the cranks and the misfits and the one-lungers and the has-beens and the might've-beens and the would-bes and the never-wills and the God-knows-whats, I have always felt at home."

First paragraph of the New Yorker Profile: "Joe Gould's Secret" by Joseph Mitchell, September 19, 1964.

Joseph Mitchell first profiled Joe Gould in the New Yorker article titled, "Professor Sea Gull" on December 12, 1942. When Mitchell met Gould, Gould was nicknamed Professor Sea Gull by Greenwich Village bartenders. He was eccentric, even for the beat period, and he claimed to be writing an "Oral History of the Contemporary World." In Mitchell's first profile, he quoted Gould as saying, Back home in Massachusetts I'd be called an old Yankee crank. Here I'm called a bohemian."

Mitchell ended up writing a book titled "Joe Gould's Secret" based on his two New Yorker profiles. It turns out that the "Oral History of the Contemporary World" never existed. The book was made into a movie  in 2000

ee cummings wrote a poem about Joe Gould.

September 2014, South Boston


a painter on castle island (sonya kovacic)

a painter on castle island (sonya kovacic)

Boston has produced many famous artists but there is one painter who has a square, plaza, and hotel named after him. 

John Singleton Copley, born in Boston in 1738, was one of the most influential painters in colonial America. Copley is best known for his realistic portraits of important colonial Americans including John Adams, John Hancock, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and Nicholas Boylston. Copley's notoriety extended beyond America and it was in England where he painted one of his most famous works, "Watson and the Shark." A copy of that painting as well as his portraits can be found at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

Copley's iconic portrait of Paul Revere was not displayed publicly until 1928. At one point the portrait was stored in the attic of the Revere household.

If you're looking for painting classes, the Eliot School in Jamaica Plain, an old grammar school turned manual arts school, offers a variety of classes this fall.

South Boston, September 2014

pleasure bay

lifeguards at pleasure bay (@asequinedlife)

lifeguards at pleasure bay (@asequinedlife)

Today's photo was submitted by Danielle, from Medford. Danielle works as a Resources Manager and also spends time blogging. She says about Boston:

"My favorite part about the best city in the world is the mix of rich history and new growth. The fact that it's on the water and extremely walkable makes it even better!"

Pleasure Bay, the fully enclosed man-made lagoon in South Boston, was designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted.

Olmsted (whose accomplishments include Boston's park system, the Muddy River Reservation, the Arboretum, New York's Central Park and Prospect Park, the U.S. Capitol's landscape, Stanford University's campus, U.C. Berkeley's campus, Asheville's Biltmore Estate, the Niagara Falls Reservation, etc., etc.) originally planned Pleasure Bay as a jewel in the Emerald Necklace — the series of parks around Boston.

The Dorchesterway, which would have linked Franklin Park to the bay, was never realized. Thus, Pleasure Bay was completed, but is not considered a part of the modern Emerald Necklace.

(A walk around the bay takes about an hour, and includes a beach, a park, and a historic fort, as well as an up-close view of one of Boston's largest shipyards.)

Across the lagoon on Castle Island, you can visit the 19th-century Fort Independence, which is said to be the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe's The Cask of Amontillado. Check out the fort's star-shaped architecture from above.