South End

May 2015, South End


a toast  (sonya kovacic)

a toast (sonya kovacic)

Today is the one year anniversary of Bostonology! Thanks so much to all our readers for your continued support. We hope you have been enjoying it as much as we have.

Below are all 258 posts we have written this year:

city upon a hill, flight, arboretum, dinghies, pediment, path, neon, beaches, charlie, aesop's fables, fells, extension, plaza, ivy, fridays, geese, southwest corridor, stata, ferry, streetball, walking city, alewife, bu bridge, vaudeville, scratch tickets, brattle, post, 111, juice, canopy, kendall square, phones,thin ice, mary soo hoo park, cheese, self-portraits, votes, thrift, donuts, summertime, reflection, movement, memorial drive, pomp, rain, back bay, railyard, cats,willow 50, reading room, pride, electricity, muddy river, bruce's Friday trivia, green, pine street, computer, citrus, stairs, street lights, margaret fuller, kayak, printing, moving day, screever, the cape, ads, lone red seat, ramen, speed, hello!, winthrop, tourism, state, blizzard, ruggles, newbury, movies, music, escalator, harborwalk, old manse, young love, long weekend, pleasure bay, zakim, east boston, melnea cass, 90, cemetery, bikes, construction, hotels, dance party, autumn, teapot, mass ave, tunnels, announcements, speakeasy, painter, orchestra, ideas, fluff, dog, food, faneuil hall, coffee, sculpture, aquarium, bowling, piano factory, golden dome, square, cookies, circus, t.rex, hood, south end, within these walls, fire alarm, not art, madonna, storrow, honeybees, free hospital for women, celtics, menino, halloween, influenza, election, great fire, lighthouse, monument, park square, veterans day, "e" branch, jamaicaway, bela lyon pratt, and this is boston, steam, longfellow, oysters, immigrants, turkeys, boundaries, fruit, thanksgiving, poloroid, supermarket, weddings, cathedral, clock tower, shell, soofa, nightlife, jelly beans, wind, traffic signal, back of the hill, alchemist, winter solstice, greeting cards, breweries ,genzyme, arthur fiedler, menorah, christmas tree, shurcliff benches, new year, coat of arms,, molasses, summerthing, james brown, banking, hockey, horses, forest, astronauts, it is beautiful-then it is gone, dr. king, sewer, mugar omni theater, katharine lane weems, robot, snow/snow update, voyage,,, memories, sidewalk, rent, tides, commute, puns, gulls, playing cards, port, birds, help, traffic circles, windows, presidents, pedestrians, grapes, tattoo, mount, fountain, rainbow, comedy. orange, from above, infinite jest, franny, taxi, cafeteria, cheer, chess, orator, light, ice cream, from the archives, karaoke, brazil, fried dough, vestiges, dumplings, red, victorian, fallout shelter, television, lawn, motorcade, rock, spring, future home, psychoanalysis, jalwa, cube, wadsworth, street signs, market, the off-season project, trader joe's, one boston day, garden, the fonz, marathon, bostonologist, defiance, tulips, pond, national parks, beacon st., cooking, familiar, compost, transformation.

Take a look at all the posts we've done and let us know your favorite ones.

February 2015, South End


iron cast fountain,  south end   (sonya kovacic)

iron cast fountain, south end (sonya kovacic)

One of the most recognized fountains in Boston is found on the Boston Common. Named Brewer Fountain, after merchant Gardner Brewer who donated it, the fountain is a bronze replica of a fountain that was made for the 1855 World's Fair in Paris. It has been on the Common since 1868 and was renovated in 2010.

Along with Boston, you can apparently find copies of the Val d'Osne fountain in other cities around the world including:

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mendoza, Argentina
Launceston, Australia
Salvador de Bahia, Brazil
Quebec, Canada
Valparasio, Chile
Liverpool, England
Angers, France
Saint Quentin, France
Soulac sur mer, France
Troyes, France
Tacna, Peru
Lisbon, Portugal (2)                                                                                              
Valencia, Spain
Geneva, Switzerland

Take a look at an image of the Brewer Fountain from the late 1800's.

South End, February 2015


party,  piano factory   (sonya kovacic)

party, piano factory (sonya kovacic)

What you will notice about tattoo parlors in Boston is that the oldest tattoo parlors were established in 2001. Before 2001, it was a crime in Massachusetts for anyone other than a physician and health care professional to offer tattoo services. A law that was initially created in 1962.

Then came Lanphear v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Suffolk Superior Court No. 99-1896) in October 2000, that claimed that the law was unconstitutional and violated freedom of expression protected under the First Amendment. The Superior Court judge sided with Lanphear and in 2001, tattoo parlors became legal.

If you are interested, you can read more about the case.

Chris Padgett created a photo series called "Bled for Boston" about people who got tattoos after the marathon bombing.

Check out Boston's first 1000 foot tattoo.

transportation, February 2015, South End


waiting for the number 1 bus on  mass ave   (sonya kovacic)

waiting for the number 1 bus on mass ave (sonya kovacic)

According to the latest US Census report:

Among the 317,930 workers in Boston:

  • 45.8% of the population used a car, truck, or van
  • 38.5% drove alone while 7.3% carpooled
  • 33% took public transportation
  • 15.1% walked
  • 1.7 percent biked
  • 0.9% took taxicab, motorcycle, or other means
  • 3.6 percent worked at home
  • Of workers who did not work from home, the average travel time to work was 28.7 minutes

With the rise of telecommuting, the future may be one without snow days.

How do people in your neighborhood commute to work? Take a look at Boston Magazine's interactive map.

According to nerdwallet, Malden has the worst commute in Greater Boston.

South End, December 2014


cathedral of the holy cross, south end (sonya kovacic)

cathedral of the holy cross, south end (sonya kovacic)

A cathedral (Greek cathedra, "seat" "chair") is defined as a Christian church that contains a seat of the bishop. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross of Boston is of the Roman Catholic denomination and is presided by Cardinal Archbishop Seán Cardinal O'Malley. Completed in 1875, it was designed in the Gothic Revival Style by Irish American Patrick Keely, who was responsible for designing some 700 churches during his lifetime. As the largest cathedral in New England, it can fit nearly 1700 people.

The first Cathedral of the Holy Cross was located on Franklin Street and was designed by Charles Bullfinch in 1803 (built first as a church) and was the city's first Roman Catholic church. In April 8, 1808, Pope Pius VII declared the first Catholic Diocese of Boston and the Church of the Holy Cross became a cathedral. In the 19th century, Boston Catholics encountered lots of opposition from predominantly protestant Bostonians. Boston College Prof. Emeritus Thomas O'Connor explains how Irish Catholics "found strong anti-Catholic and anti-Irish prejudice, two centuries after the city's founding by English Puritans of Cromwellian bent whose rigid opposition to "popery" led them to ban Catholics from the Massachusetts Bay Colony." Thanks to subsequent waves of Irish immigration, Catholicism became more accepted and then dominated some areas of the city.

There is footage from January 9th, 1964, of a Mass held in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for President John F Kennedy, following his assassination. Jacqueline Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Rose Kennedy (JFK's mom) were in attendance. 

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.

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.

South End, October 2014


roasting ethiopian coffee beans, south end (sonya kovacic)

roasting ethiopian coffee beans, south end (sonya kovacic)

You can thank the Boston Tea Party for your coffee addiction. Before 1773, tea was the preferred hot beverage in Boston and Colonial America, but the Tea Act of 1773 and the monopolization of the East India Company, led to demonstrators dumping tea into the ocean. The Boston Tea Party eventually led to the American Revolution. It was said that at the popular colonial meeting place, Green Dragon Tavern, if you ordered tea you were considered a tory, and if you ordered coffee, you were considered a patriot.

Above Brattle Theater, in historic Brattle Hall, sits Algiers Coffee House. You can sit on their beautiful second floor beautiful patio and drink a variety of coffee including their special mint coffee.

South End, September 2014


on the way to the arboretum (sonya kovacic)

on the way to the arboretum (sonya kovacic)

In 1865, Robert C. Hooper from Boston, owned a dog named Hooper's Judge who was a cross between an English Bulldog and the now extinct white English Terrier. Hooper's Judge became the direct link to what we now know as the Boston Terrier, a terrier with a "distinctive look: a lovable mug with a square jaw line and upright ears that are sometimes cropped but are best left to stand on their own." In 1893, the Boston Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel club.

The Boston Terrier has been Boston University's mascot since 1922 when BU students voting for a school mascot got to choose between the Boston Terrier and a moose. According to BU's website, "the terrier was later named Rhett after Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind because, 'no one loves Scarlett more than Rhett' referencing Rhett Butler's affection for Scarlett O'Hara (scarlet is BU's primary color)."

The Animal Rescue League of Boston, located in the South End, is an animal welfare organization dedicated to rescuing domesticated animals and wildlife from suffering, cruelty, abandonment, and neglect. The league has been around since 1899 and is the only animal welfare agency in Massachusetts that has an entire department dedicated to animal rescue. Other services include a veterinary clinic, dog training courses, and the opportunity to foster or adopt a dog.

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.

Orange Line, July 2014, South End


mass ave station  (sonya kovacic)

mass ave station (sonya kovacic)

How many steps it takes to get to the top (or bottom) of these local landmarks?

  • 12 – The original Cheers
  • 15  – Musical stairs at the Museum of Science
  • 116 – The Pilgrim Monument (Provincetown)
  • 120 – Boston College's "Million Dollar Stairs"
  • 199 – Porter Square Station
  • 294 – The Bunker Hill Monument
  • 789 – One Boston Place
  •  1,632 – The John Hancock Tower


(The world's longest staircase is in the Swiss Alps, next to an inclined railway — it's 11,674 steps. The stairs are only open to the public one day per year, during the Niesenlauf race.)

Every Wednesday at 6:30 am, the November Project invites you to do the stairs at Harvard Stadium.