Boston Blog Posts

May 28, 2020

Edward Cohen Plaque

In the Executive Wing of the Statehouse there is a plaque remembering Edward Cohen's contribution to the labor movement in Massachusetts.

In the 222 years of the Massachusetts Statehouse, there has only been one reported fatality - Edward Cohen. He was a labor leader who was shot in the head as the assassin mistaken him for the Massachusetts Governor.

In 1907, Edward Cohen was the president of the American Federation of Labor and he worked hard to protect children's labor rights.

According to local reports:

On the afternoon in December 5th, he was waiting in the Executive Office waiting to meet Governor Curtis Guild Jr. John Steele came bursting in the room and started shooting around. Bullets flew all over the room hitting the walls and furniture. Two bullets ended up hitting Edward Cohen and Dennis D. Driscoll - another labor leader in the room.

Arthur M. Huddell, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers attacked John Steel and held him until police arrived.

A couple of days later, Edward Cohen was pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dennis Driscol recovered from his injuries - it took about two months. His first visit after recovering was the State House. A few years later he became the Deputy Institution Commissioner. A public testimonial fund was set up and $10,000 was raised.

John Steele was committed to Bridgewater State Hospital. He was 38-years old at the time of the shooting. There isn't anything else about his life after that.

Labor Massachusetts

Six Things I Learned

  1. Representative Steven M. Walsh sponsored a bill for the plaque. The bill was sign into law on the last day of Governor Jane Swift term.
  2. Created by Meredith Bergmann
  3. Installed on October 4. 2009 near the speaker of the house office.
  4. There are three newspapers on the plaque, these are the headlines:
    • 1911 - "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts An Act Related to Employee Injuries"
    • 1913 - "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts An Act to regulate Labor of Minors"
    • 2006 - "The Commonwealth of Massachusetts An Act Increasing the Minimum Wage"
  5. The sign that the girl is holding says: "We Want Bread and Roses too" - a reference to the slogan that was used during the textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912.
  6. Bottom of the Plaque reads, "Dedicated to the Massachusetts AFL CIO in Voice of Working Families." This is hard to read while looking at the plaque.
May 21, 2020

Boston Guide Sign

Boston is a confusing city to travel around. It can be hard to know which train to take to go to some popular locations.

For example, which Green Line train should you take to get to Fenway Park? What's the best train to the Theater District?

At the Park Street MBTA station, there is a cheat sheet sign on which train to take to many popular destinations.

Boston Guide
Boston Guide

Not Available in All Stations

I haven't seen similar signs in other MBTA stations. All the stations have maps to the various MBTA stops, but only the Park Street station has a guide to popular destinations.

May 14, 2020

Mary Chilton Tablet

Near the corner of Devonshire Street and Spring Lane is a tablet for Mary Chilton. She was a passenger on the Mayflower that later moved to Boston.

Mary Chilton Boston

Five Fun Facts About this Tablet

The tablet was unveiled on October 23, 1924. Arthur Winslow, the ninth in descent from John and Mary Chilton Winslow did the unveiling.

The tablet was made by John F. Paramino - he did many sculpture work around Boston. Commodore John Barry Monument, The Declaration of Independence, Founders Memorial, World War 2 Memorial and many others.

THe tablet is 35" in height and 30" in width.

The tablet was placed and paid for by the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants

After the tablet unveiling ceremony the program continued at the Old South Meeting House, just a few blocks from the Mary Chilton lived. The Old South Meetinghouse is the only Boston Church to have the honor of having a Mayflower passenger as a member. (The Old South Meeting House was actually built 50 years after her death.)

Four Fun Facts About Mary Chilton

She is believed to be the first settler to touch Plymouth Rock. There are

Born on May 31, 1608, in Sandwich, United Kingdom. Her father died when the Mayflower was anchored in Provincetown Harbor and her mother died shortly after.

There is a tomb in Kind Chapel Burying Ground that has the names of John and Mary Chilton Winslow. However, George Ernest Bowman, the secretary of the Mayflower Society in 1924, has publicly stated that there's no conclusive proof that Mary Chilton. (Even the Pilgrim Hall Museum says, "THey may be buried in the old Winslow Tomb in King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Boston")

There are many paintings of Mary Chilton leaping from the boat to land on Plymouth Rock before the other Pilgrims.

Plaque Text

The only Mayflower passenger who removed from Plymouth to Boston
Died Here in 1679
John Winslow and Mary Chilton
Were married at Plymouth about 1624 came to Boston about 1657 and brought a house on this site in 1671
John Winslow died here in 1674
As a Passenger on the Mayflower in 1620, Mary Chilton came to America before any other white woman who settled in Boston
This Memorial erected by the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants

May 7, 2020

Samuel Eliot Morison Statue

On the Commonwealth Ave Mall, between Exeter Street and Fairfield Street is the statue of Samuel Eliot Morison.

Samuel Eliot Morison (1887 - 1976) was a Boston native, a sailor, maritime historian, Harvard professor, author of 48 books, Pulitzer Prize winner, and loved everything about New England.

His Pulitzer Prize win in 1943 was for the book: "Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus." He won again in the 1960 book about "John Paul Jones, a Sailor's Biography."

Samuel Morison

Various Fun Facts about the Statue

  • The bronze statue was commissioned by the Morison Memorial Committee spearheaded by Mrs. Stella Trafford, who was the chairwomen of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Committee of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.
  • The statue was funded by the George B. Henderson Foundation, there's a stone at the base to let people know.
  • The statue was dedicated on October 15, 1982 (2,344 days after Samuel died)
  • Emily Morison Beck, Samuel's daughter, was the person who unveiled the statue to a large crowd. She said that the location was perfect and that her father was "not looking at the sea" he was looking into history."
  • Penelope Jencks was the statue sculptor. This was her first major statue. She is best known for the Eleanor Roosevelt statue in New York City.
  • Samuel Morison was well known for wearing sneakers, but the statue shows him wearing regular shoes.
  • He is wearing a windbreaker, a captain cap, with a book in one hand and binoculars in the other.
  • He is sitting on a 20-ton granite rock from Rhode Island - as if he was looking out to sea.
  • At his feet are bronze casts of crabs, shells, and starfish.
  • This statue was the first one on the CommonWealth Mall to be lite up at night.
  • When Samuel Morison was born in 1887, the CommonWealth Mall was just completed from the Back Bay fill. Commonwealth Ave was just an empty street with no buildings.

Additional Photos

There are two quotes around the statue:

  • Dreams Dreams, Then write them aye, but live them first.
  • To my readers young and old, "A flowne sheate a faire winde a boune voyage."

Morison Stone Quotes

April 30, 2020

Zakim Bridge

Boston's Skyline changed when the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge open in 2002. The cable-stayed bridge provides a way for Route 93 traffic to get in and out of Boston crossing the Charles River.

The 16-Lane bridge is lit up usually in special colors to commemorate various charities.

The bridge is 1,430 feet long and 270 feet in height. There is no pedestrian walkway on the bridge. It is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

Fun Facts about the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

  • The Zakim Bridge was part of Boston's Big Dig. The old bridge was the Charlestown High Bridge.
  • Bridge is named after Leonard P. Zakim who was a Boston Civil Rights leader. The naming rights were disputed by locals in Charlestown as they felt the bridge should be named the "Freedom Bridge" - some locals still call it as that name.
  • Construction of the bridge lasted 5-years.
  • Official naming was done in a ceremony on October 2, 2002 - it was done before cars could use the bridge. (Bruce Springsteen was one of the celebrity guests)
  • Opening: The northbound lanes were open in March 30, 2003 and the southbound lanes were opened in December 2003.
  • Elephant: On October 15, 2002, Fourteen Elephants from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus walked across the bridge. It's estimated that they put 12,00 pounds of weight on the span.
  • Lighting Cost: It cost $5,000 a month to light the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge. (2009 Figures)
  • Stolen Beacon Light - In 2015 a homeless man, Clifford Beckford, had twice stolen the red beacon off the top of the Zakim bridge. This is no small feat as he had to break in the tower and take the beacon which is 18-inches in diameter and measures 3-feet tall.
  • Zayn Malik Bridge? - In 2015, Zayn Malik was the first band member to leave One Direction. Some fans wanted Boston to rename the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge to the Leonard P. Zayne Malik Bridge. They started a change.org petition to get people to support the change. Only 50-people supported the change.
April 23, 2020

Ted William Red Chair

One of the landmarks within Fenway Park is the lone red seat in the bleachers. The seat really stands out from all the green seats.

This seat marks the spot where on June 9, 1946, Ted Williams hit the longest home run in Fenway Park.

Ted Williams Red Chair
Ted William's Famous Chair at Fenway Park

Fun Facts about the Seat

Ted Williams hit the ball in the first inning of a double header against Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers.

The red seat is 502-feet from Homeplate. (When the event happened local newspapers reported it as 450-feet but was remeasured for the correct distance.)

Joseph A. Boucher was sitting in the 33rd row of the Bleachers with his straw hat. The ball hit his head and made a mark in his hat.

Officially the seat is located at Sec. 42, Row 37, Seat 21. In 1945 the seat was actually a bench.

He didn't get the ball as it bounced several rows behind him.

According to interviews after the event Joseph said that no one was standing up because the sun was blinding their sight.

Joseph A. Boucher donated the straw hat to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (I wasn't able to find any information that it is still there.)

Over the years, the bench was replaced by seats and in 1984 the Red Sox owners changed the seat to red to commemorate Ted Williams hit.

April 16, 2020

Nurses Monument

On the big hill, known as Flag Staff Hill, on the Boston Common is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. It’s there to remember Massachusetts soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Near the monument is a special memorial to the Nurses of the Armed Services.

Nurse Memorial

Three Fun Facts of the Memorial

Memorial was installed on November 11, 1959 - the 41st anniversary of the end of World War One.

The monument was placed 82 years after the larger Soldiers and Sailors monument (it was dedicated on September 17, 1877)

American Legion #296 is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana

More Information to Be Discovered

There isn’t much online about this monument. I wasn’t able to find out anything about the boulder that the sign is hanging on or how the monument came to be.

I'll do some additional research at the Boston Public Library once it reopens and then update this blog post.

Sign on the Boulder

In Memory of the Nurses of the Armed Services

Massachusetts All Nurses

Post #296

American Legion

11 Nov. 1959

April 9, 2020

Historic John Endecott's Painting and Chair

The Massachusetts Statehouse is a historical building and contains a lot of priceless artifacts that make it a fun place to visit.

One of the unique displays is the John Endecott Painting and Chair. It's located next to the Senate Chamber entrance in an area called the State House gallery of governors.

Eddicott Chair Painting

Five Fun Facts

The painting has been in the State House for more than 100 years. It was painted by an unknown artist around 1665 - just before John Endecott died.

The painting was hung behind the sitting governor desk for many years. It was moved in the early 1950s when rumors spread about John Endicott involvement with the Salem Witch Trials.

The Oak chair is covered with leather and belongs to the former Governor. He was Massachusett's first governor serving from 1629. (Yes, the chair is at least 391 years old)

On the back of the chair, which you can't easily see, is a silver plate.

This chair is one of the earliest known upholstered chairs made in New England.

Related Blog Posts

Blog Post about the John Endicott Resident Plaque - Posted on January 18, 2018

Blog Post about the Endicott Statue - Posted on April 5, 2018

April 2, 2020

Boston's Haffenreffer Walk

Every paved path in the Boston Public Garden has a name. One of the most traveled paths is the Haffenreffer Walk.

Boston Gardens Haffenreffer Walk

Haffenreffer Walk is a straight route from the Boston Commons to the Commonwealth Mall. It cuts the Boston Public Gardens in half.

There are three main things to see on Haffenreffer Walk:

  • George Washington - equestrian statue [Installed in 1869].
  • Foot Bridge [Created in 1867] - once the world’s shortest suspension bridge.
  • 
Seasonal flowers - The flowers are constantly changing to reflect the changing season. In the spring you'll see pretty tulips and in the summer you'll see palm trees.

Fun Facts about Haffenreffer Walk

Named after Theodore Carl Haffenreffer ( l880 - 1956) who was a member of the Board of Park Commissioners from 1930 - 1956. He served when major changes were being made that have been the foundation of what you see in the Garden today.

He was born on December 13, 1880, and died on

He served in World War 2.

He lived in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Along with his brother Rudolf Haffenreffer, they took over the Haffenreffer Brewery from their father. The brewery produced a lot of popular brews such as "The Green Monster" and "Haffenwrecker".

Theodore Carl Haffenreffer passed away in 1956, at age 76.

March 26, 2020

Edward Everett Hale Statue

As you walk from the Boston Public Commons and enter the Boston Public Gardens, you'll see a life-size statue of Edward Everett Hale.

Edward Everett Hale (April 3, 1822 - June 10, 1909) was an American author, historian, and a Unitarian minister. He is best known for "The Man Without a Country" to help the Union during the Civil War.

Edward Everett Hale

Eight Things I Learned about the Statue

  • The bronze statue was made by Bela Lyon Pratt - approved by the Hale family and closest friends. Those that knew him said that the statue was an excellent resemblance of the preacher.
  • The statue is a heroic size (just slightly larger than real life.) show Dr. Hale in a long frock coat, walk with one foot slightly advanced, a large cane in his right hand and a hat in the left hand.
  • He is on top of a stone base that is three feet high. On one side of the base is an inscription that reads, "Edward Everett Hale, Man of Letters, Preacher of the Gospel, Prophet of Peace Patriot. 11822-1909" on the other side is "Look up and Not Down, Look Forward and Not Back, Lookout and Not in, Lend a hand"
  • Fundraising started in June 1910 and was done through the Edward Everett Hale Fund which was manage by Kidder, Peabody & Company.
  • A total of $30,000 ($833,606.68 in 2019) was successfully raised in 12-months. This was done by using circular letters mailed to various members of the Arlington Street Church.
  • During fundraising no specific location was set for the statue. The Edward Everett Hale Committee did ask the city for a place in Copley Square, but that was rejected as other designs were being considered for the area.
  • It was unveiled on May 23, 1913 - at least 3,000 people attended the ceremony which started at the Arlington Street Church. The statue was draped in an American flag and was removed by Edward Everett Hale Jr - the 7-year old grandson of the preacher.
  • Other people in attendance include Bela Pratt - the designer of the statue, Dr. Hales Widow who was 83 years old and many members of the Hale family.
March 19, 2020

Woodrow Bench

The park along Commonwealth Ave is a beautiful place to take a walk any time of the year. There are lights in the trees in the Winter and in the Spring you can appreciate all the flowers and tree buds.

There are benches along the trail on the Commonwealth Ave, which allows Bostonians to sit and enjoy the beautiful day.

Next to one of the benches is a white pale with a picture of a Dog. Seems out of place, but it's a special tribute to a dog, Woodrow, that once enjoyed sitting next to the bench and enjoying the day.

Dog Treats

Interesting Things About the Bucket

  • Woodrow was born in 2004 and died on December 7th, 2019.
  • The bucket contains some of Woodrow favorite treats and bacon.
  • The note outside the bucket says, “Please help yourself, courtesy of Woodrow.”
  • The Bucket has been out there since December - someone dig around the bucket.
  • The metal bucket is tied to the bench so no one takes it.
  • Woodrow has his own Facebook Page - Woodrow the George Clooney of Dogs.

Finding Woodrow's Treats

The bucket treat is located next to a bench on Commonwealth Ave. It's between Berkeley Street and Clarendon Street - near the General John Glover Statue.

Interesting Find

Woodrow2017

You can see Woodrow sitting by the bench on Google's Picasaweb.

March 12, 2020

Top of the Hub and SkyWalk Closing

On April 18, 2020, the top three floors of the Prudential Tower in Boston will close. This is your last chance, for a few years, to get one of the best views of Boston.

The Skywalk Observatory is located on the 50th floor, while Top of the Hub Restaurant & Lounge is located on the 52nd floor and has been in operation for nearly 55 years.

The 50th-floor observation deck is the highest observation deck in New England open to the public.

The good news is that the owner is upgrading the property, the bad news is that it will take some time before you can get a Skyview of the city.

Sky Walk2020
You can buy tickets in the Prudential Mall next to the Prudential Tower.

Six Fun Facts

The restaurant closure announcement was made on January 15, 2020, by Select Restaurants, Inc., owner and operator of the Restaurant and Observatory.

They made every attempt to keep ownership of the property- including promising to invest $1 million into the Top of the Hub.

Boston Properties, who manages the top three floors, will be investing $125 million to renovate and upgrade the top three floors.

The renovation should take about 2 years to complete and is expected to open in the summer of 2022.

The SkyWalk Observatory cost $21 for Adults, and $15 and children. In 1980, a ticket cost $1.75. Had the price been adjusted with inflation going to the top would cost $5.50 today.

The SkyWalk first opened on April 19, 1965, and will close on April 18, 2020. That's 20,089 days of operations, or 55 years or 660 months.

View of The City

Boston View Sky Walk2016
Best View of Boston will soon be unavailable.

March 5, 2020

Boston Marathon Monuments

The Boston Marathon Bombing monuments have been completed on Boylston Street. These monuments remember the lives that were lost on that day.

The bombings killed 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, and 8-year-old Martin Richard, all of whom had gone to the finish line to watch the race.

First Site Marathon
Monument at the First Bomb Explosion site.

Second Marthon Bomb Monument
Monument at the Second Bomb Explosion site.

Eight Facts About the Monuments

Project cost $2 Million dollars and took four years of planning and developing

It was supposed to be ready by last year's Marathon - which was the 5th anniversary. The project was met with last-minute design changes and delays. It was officially completed on August 2019.

The Monument was designed by Pablo Eduardo, who also designed the statue of former Mayor Kevin White in Faneuil Hall.

One pillar stands at the site of the first bomb, where Campbell was killed, and two pillars at the site of the second bomb, where Richard and Lu were killed.

When you're at the monument, notice the area outside the inner circle, here is the second circle of a different shade of granite, representing the 16 people who lost limbs and the others who suffered wounds that day. A third, larger circle, of yet another shade of granite, represents all those who were in the immediate area.

The circle is broken with a large black diamond - a symbol of violence done on that day.

Each Pillar is a special tribute the three deaths:
Martin Richard's pillar - Stones taken from Franklin Park, where he loved to play.
Lingzi Lu's pillar - Stones from Boston University, where she was going to school.
Krystle Campbell's pillar - Stones from Spectacle Island, where she worked and enjoy visiting.

Near the monument are Cherry trees that will bloom each year around the time of the Boston Marathon.

February 27, 2020

Sacco and Vanzetti Plaster Sculptor Mold

In 1920, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are two Italian immigrants who were charged with murdering a payroll clerk and a guard.

Many people felt that they did not receive a fair trial. There were charges that the prosecution suppressed evidence and the judge might have some bias to their anarchist views.

Dispite large protests and request from around the world, the pair were executed on August 23, 1927, in the state prison in Charlestown.

In the Boston Public Library, there is a large plaster sculptor to remember the two men.

Gutzon Borglum Plaster Work

Things I Learned about the Plaster Sculptor Mold

President Calvin Coolidge denied a stay of execution for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti on the same day that he dedicated the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota.

Gutzon Borglum, who it is most associated with the creation of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, was not happy with President Calvin Coolidge's decision not to stay the execution. He volunteered his time and services to create a special plaster sculptor to remember the two Italian immigrants.

A special committee tried to present the Plaster Sculptor and bronze sculpture to several Massachusetts officials in 1937, 1947 and 1957. Each time they were turned down. The politicians didn't want to be part of the Sacco-Vanzetti story.

At the 1947 request, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein made public statements that the state display the sculpture.

Sometime after the last attempt both the plaster cast and the original bronze sculpture went missing. The plaster mold turned up mysteriously in 1960 at the home of Aldino Felicani, a Defense Committee treasurer. He donated the cast to the Community Church in Copley Square. The original bronze sculpture whereabouts are still not known.

In 1977, Michael Dukakis issued an official proclamation indicating that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti did not get a fair trial.

In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the executions, Boston Mayor Tom Menino and then-acting governor Paul Cellucci formally accepted the sculpture at the Boston Public Library.

The plaster sculptor is now located next to the Wiggin Gallery and the Rare Book Room of the Boston Public Library at Copley Square.

The area of the Wiggin Gallery and Rare Bookroom is currently under construction. I have been told that the public won't have access to see the Plaster Sculptor Mold until sometime in 2021.

Three aluminum copies were made from the Plaster mold. One now hangs in the Community Church in Copley Square, another one is at the Gardner Jackson Library at Brandeis University, and a bronze can be found at the Gutzon Borglum Historical Center near Mount Rushmore.

Text on the Plaster Sculptor

The paster mold is seven feet long and three and a half feet high, it showed the men in profile next to a quote from Vanzetti's final prison letter.

What I wish more than all in this last hour of agony is that our case and our fate may be understood in their real being and serve as a tremendous lesson to the force of freedom so that our suffering and death will not have been in vain.

Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti

More informaiton about the trial and it's impact in Boston's History will be in a future blog post.

February 20, 2020

Early Signs of Spring

Boston has had a mild winter this year. While, February 5th is the official the middle of Winter. Many Bostonians feel that its usually not until the end of February when you get a sense of the kind of winter it will be.

Yesterday I saw an early sign of Spring in Boston's Back Bay:

Back Bay02192020
Yes, those are early Spring flowers popping out of the ground.

This was taken on St. Botolph Street, which is located next to Coply Place mall.

How Much snow accumulate in Boston?

According to Current Results Boston tends to get very little snow in March and April.

Fun Facts About Snow and Boston

  Fun Fact: in the 123 year history of the Boston Marathon there has never ever been a cancelation because of the amount of snow that was on the ground.

 Fun Fact: According to the Farmers' Almanac's Extended Forecast 2020 the Northeast is expected to more than the average amount of snow fall for the remainer of the season.

 Fun Fact: The most snow that has fallen in Boston was during the 2014-2015 Winter season when 108.6-inches of snow fell. It was also one of the most challenging times for the MBTA Commuter rail as there were numerous train delays and cancelations.

 Fun Fact: One of the worst days was February 17th, 2015, where trains were experiecing more than 60-minute delays.