Boston Blog Posts
|February 9, 2017|
"Then & Now" MOS Exhibit
Did you know that the Boston Museum of Science has an exhibit that looks back at some of the histories of the museum? You can take a step in time and look back at some of the famous exhibits at the museum.
You can read all about how the museum transformed from the Boston Society of Natural History in 1860 to what it is today.
Some of the features in this Exhibit
- Pictures of the Boston Society of Natural History
- Birds that were on display at the "Boston Society of Natural History"
- Pictures of some old Exhibits, remember the Hatch Egg?
- Pictures of the original Dinosaur and why they changed it.
- Pictures of Spooky - The Museums Great Horned Owl
- Turbidity Column Exhibit
- Interact with The Tooth Exhibit
- Interact with the first Interactive Exhibit, the Ermine.
- Watch a classic 1980s commercial of the Museum - Where its fun to find out"
This is a cool place to walk through if you visited the museum when you were a kid. You can see many familiar things from the museum past.
Finding the Exhibit
The "Then & Now" exhibit is on Level 2 in the Blue Wing, just beyond the Science in the Park in the Theater of Electricity.
Thanks to the Sponsors!
The exhibit was made possible through the generosity of Joan and Herman Suit, and the George Willard Smith Endowment Fund.
|February 2, 2017|
Washington Portrait at the Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library Central Branch is known for having a lot of beautiful architecture. Among the serious researchers in the library are tourists checking out the main marble staircase in the entrance hall and the various paintings in the Abbey room.
In the second floor of the McKim Building is the Washington Room. A few months ago this is where people would sit and do research on the computers - it was part of Tech Central. The computers might be gone, but the beauty of the room still exist.
The centerpiece of the room is the large picture of George Washington hanging over the desk in the room.
Washington at Dorchester Heights
by Emanuel Gottlieb LeutzeA sign near the desk reads...
Known for his portraits and history paintings, German artist Emanuel Leutze selected a dramatic scene from the Revolutionary War for this enormous work, depicting General George Washington commanding his troops to occupy the hills of Dorchester Heights on the south side of Boston. This action by Washington and the Continental Army in 1776 proved instrumental in driving British forces out of the city, ending the nearly year-long siege of Boston.
The painting was purchased by the City of Boston with gifts from School Children and citizens from Vose Gallery in 1955.
About Vose Gallery
If you really like the art at the Boston Public Library, you should check out more contemporary pieces at the nearby Vose Gallery - which many tourists may not know about. Vose Galleries specializes in 18th, 19th, and early 20th-century American paintings. America's oldest family-owned art gallery, Vose has founded 160 years ago.
Family-owned gallery features American Impressionist art along with contemporary pieces by realists.
They are located at 238 Newbury Street. Getting there from the library is easy, simply walk out the main library doors by Boylston Street and cross Boylston Street. Take a right on Exeter Street, and then a left on Newbury Street. The Vose Gallery will be on the left side about 1/2 block down, it's right next to CVS. Just before Fairfield Street.
Free Library Tours
The Boston Public Library offers daily tours highlighting the architecture of its famed Central Library buildings by Charles Follen McKim and Philip Johnson as well as the art treasures within, including works by Daniel Chester French and John Singer Sargent.
The tours start near the McKim Entrance, stop by the one of the borrower services desks for information on the next tour.
|January 26, 2017|
Boston Logan International Airport
Boston Logan International Airport (IATA Code BOS) is the largest airport in New England. Most New Englanders call the airport, simply "Logan."
Since we are going to be flying out of the airport soon, I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit about the airport. Here are some things that I have learned about the airport.
- The original airfield was created by the United States Army
- First airplane to land on the field was on June 13, 1923.
- That's 19 years, 5 months, 27 days after the Wright Brothers first flight.
- Commercial Aircraft started flying out in 1927.
- In 1927, Charles Lindbergh and the "Spirit of St. Louis" landed in Boston after a solo flight across the Atlantic
- Official Name is the General Edward Lawrence Logan Airport. (June 12, 1943)
- Previous Name was the Commonwealth Airport, some people may refer to it as the "East Boston Airport"
- In 1947, the airport became International with passenger flights to Canada, Bermuda, Lisbon and London.
- In 1959, Massport took over the airport
- In 1973, Massport built a 22-story airport control tower. (The largest in the world.)
- Today the Airport covers 2,384 acres and six runways.
- Currently rank 17th busiest airport in the United States.
- The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger aircraft to ever have landed at the airport.
- Private Planes can land at Logan Airport. Departure Fees start at $10 daytime. Nighttime field use starts at $59. - Massport Aircraft Operating & Parking Fees
General Edward Lawrence Logan
- Born in South Boston and Graduated from Boston Latin
- Served in the 9th Massachusetts Regiment in 1897
- Commanded the 101st Regiment in World War I
- Justice of the South Boston Court in 1914
- Died July 6, 1939 and buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery
- A statue of General Logan by Joseph Coletti was unveiled at the entrance to the former Boston Airport when it was officially renamed the General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport in a public ceremony in 1956.
- The statue has been moved with each major airport expansion.
- The statue is currently located on Porter Street. You will see it on your left as you get on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The joke around the city is that the airport is named after an infrequent flier. The question is: Why did Boston name an airport after General Edward Lawrence Logan? For all of his many accomplishments, Lieutenant General Logan never flew in an airplane.
|January 19, 2017|
Certificate of Occupancy
At the 177 Huntington Ave Office Building you can still see signs of the old building owner. On the back stairs, at each floor landing is a "Certificate of Occupancy." This is a copy of one of the documents:
This particular Certificate of Occupancy defines the max load for all floors in the building as 50 lbs per square foot.
Some information about the Building Code in the City of Boston:
The act was changed a few years later:
In older building, built before 1975, you will find in one of the stairwells, most likely not a heavy traffic one, a Certificate of Occupancy.
|January 12, 2017|
Martin Luther King Lived Here
In the early 1950s, Martin Luther King lived in Boston while he was attending school at Boston University of Theology.
He lived at two locations:
Apartment at 170 Saint Botolph Street, Boston Mass.
Martin Luther King lived on St. Botolph Street for his first semester at Boston University of Divinity. He lived between Albemarle and Blackwood Street. (170 Saint Botolph Street)
397 Massachusetts Ave, Boston Mass.
Next Semester he and a student at Tuffs moved to an apartment nearby on Massachusetts Ave, just beyond the Mass Ave Orange Line station. While living there met his wife Coretta Scott of Alabama. ( 397 Massachusetts Ave)
He received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955.
Note: Both locations are priviate residences.
|January 5, 2017|
Map of Back Bay at the Back Bay MBTA Station
While waiting for the commuter rail at any of the seven tracks you will see a map of Boston's Back bay. While some of the maps are showing 'Old Boston Town," there are a few modern maps. I am guessing that the maps are there to help people located various points in the Back Bay.
Maps are Outdated
Commuters waiting for the Framingham/Worcester trains may not pay much attention to the maps in the terminal. They are located in various places along the train tracks. The maps may seem fine, but if you take a close look at the map and you may discover something doesn't look quite right.
Example of some of the Oddity that you may see on the map: (This is the top left section)
- Red Arrow - Part of the the Prudential Mall is missing? Where is Barnes & Noble?
- Green Arrow - Boylston Street doesn't have a road divider.
- Blue Arrow - What about the pedestrian bridge over Huntington Ave?
Looks like the maps are from the Dukakis Administration.
The outdated maps are somewhat useful to get a rough idea where they are to other points in the Back Bay such as Boston Public Gardens and Newbury Street.
However, the maps are outdated. The MBTA can take three courses of action:
- Update all the maps, which may cost a lot of money but are useful for tourists.
- Add a sign to let people know the maps are outdated. (Historic Back Bay in the 1980s)
- Do nothing as nobody really pays attention to the maps.
Finding the Map
You can see the old Boston map between Track 7 and 5 at the Back Bay Commuter rail station.
When you walk into the station from the Dartmouth Street entrance, enter the doors with "South End" and walk by the Dunkin Donuts stand.
Turn left after Dunkin Donuts and go down the stairs where you see "Tracks 5 & 7."
Take a right at the bottom and then another right. Take a short walk along the train tracks.
Walk to the overhead digital clock look to the right and you'll see the classic map.
|December 29, 2016|
Robin William Bench
In the movie "Good Will Hunting" there is is a scene where Robin Williams and Matt Damon talk on a bench at the Boston Gardens.
In Boston, this is known as the Robin William's bench. Bostonians placed flowers and other memorabilia on the bench when he died on August 11, 2014.
Good Will Hunting
"Some people think they know everything - yet they UNDERSTAND nothing"
November 11, 2016
Someone doing Yoga on the Robin William's bench at the Boston Public Gardens.
Finding the Robin Williams Bench
Robin Williams park bench is located in the Boston Public Gardens, near the George Washington Statue and the Public Garden's Foot Bridge. There is no marker or indicator that this is Robin William's bench.
- From the George Washington Statue, walk toward the Public Garden Foot Bridge.
- Take a left at the first Path.
- Walk down the path until it connects to another path.
- On your right is the Robin Williams Bench.
There are two markers in the stone at the bench. As your facing the bench and look on the ground:
- On the left: "A place for Barbara and her Pups to pause"
- On the Right: "In Memory of Jeffrey A. Guyer "Breath in hope, breathe out love."
|December 22, 2016|
David Ortiz Bridge
In October 10 2016, the City of Boston named the bridge between Fenway Park and Kenmore Square the David Ortiz bridge. The bridge was formally known as the "Brookline Avenue Bridge."
Who is David Oriz
David Ortiz sign to the Boston Red Sox on January 22, 2003. In a few short years he became the most important clutch hitter for the Boston Red Sox. He is regarded as one of the best clutch hitters of all time, Ortiz had 11 career walk-off home runs during the regular season and 2 during the postseason.
He became the MVP of the 2013 World Series by getting the team focus on winning.
Most people are familiar with the bridge they probably walked on it going to a baseball game at Fenway Park.
The city of Boston wanted to make a big deal of the bridge so they put up four bridge signs. The signs are located on each end of the bridge.
There are several good photo opportunities of the 'Ortiz Bridge' sign. There a great opportunity with the sign, Fenway Park and the Prudential building. The best opportunity is crossing the Brookline Ave at Fenway Park and taking a picture with the landmark Citgo Sign.
Great shot of the Ortiz sign and the Citgo Sign in Kenmore Square.
After you cross the bridge, there is a bonus sign just as you get down the stairs. The sign is in the window at a perfect height for selfies.
The best way to get to the bridge is to catch the Green Line to Kenmore Square and walk to Fenway Park. The signs for the 'David Ortiz' bridge are very large and you won't miss it!
|December 15, 2016|
Henry and Paint
At the corner of Dartmouth Street and Stuart Street is one of the entrances to the Copley Place. Over the past year, many commuters have had to use this entrance to access the Bay Bay station from Copley Place due to the constructions of another entrance closer to the station.
In front of this entrance is an art display featuring two horses.
Henry and Paint
The two horses that are in the area in front of Copley Plaza are named Henry and Paint. Both of them have a plaque underneath them.
There is a plaque underneath both horses and they both have the following inscription:
The horses are made of cast bronze armature using traditional lost way process, with overlapping sheets of copper then welded on a bronze armature.
The two-pieces abstract equestrian sculpture is the artwork of known "constructivist" Deborah Butterfield. The sculptor has focused on horses for over 20 years and has never made any use of drawings or sketches. Although, the artist is not captivated with mimicking any certain aspect of the horse, be the way she carefully chooses her materials she suggests some of the most delicate and surprising characteristics of the horse.
The artist born in San Diego, CA on May 7, 1940, makes use of two important ideas in art: unity and variety. These two principles serve as a fitting compliment for the centerpiece of the mixed-use complex entrance.
The plaque also gives the dimension of the two horses:
|Paint||1987 Bronze & Copper||86"h x 118"w x 36"d|
|Henry||1987 Bronze & Copper||89"h x 94"w x 43"d|
Future of the Copley Place Entrance
The future of "Henry" and "Paint" is uncertain, as Simon Property Group planned to build a 52-story tower at the corner of Dartmouth Street and Stuart Street.
Boston Redevelopment Agency approved of the 52-story tower on May 14, 2015. The 52-story tower was due to include 542 condos and apartments as well as retail and had been a long, long time planning.
In October 2016, Simon Property Group halted any forward progress of the new tower due to rising construction costs and concerns over the rising supply of luxury housing.
|December 8, 2016|
Holiday Pops at Symphony Hall
For many Bostonian's the Holiday Pops is a popular annual tradition, this year marks the 43rd year of celebrating Christmas music. Tickets are extremely hard to get, and usually sell out within hours of going on sale.
The show features many popular Christmas songs, as Keith Lockhart conducts the orchestra and encourages the crowd to sing-a-long. The crowd favorite was the 12 days of Christmas and the singers add a bit of humor to the classic song.
We sat on the first balcony near the stage and enjoyed the music and watching Keith Lockhart. We highly recommend sitting between rows 1 - 20 on the first balcony. The nice thing about the balcony is that kids can see the performance because there's no obstruction view. If you sit at the tables on the orchestra floor you can't see the all the orchestra clearly.
Camera and recording equipment are prohibited in Symphony Hall during concerts. However, there were plenty of guests that were taking pictures of the performance using their smartphones.
View from the First Balcony, Seat 10
Fun Facts about the Boston Symphony Hall
- Located at 301 Massachusetts Ave
- Symphony Hall opened on October 15, 1900 with a performace of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis"
- The Building was Designed by McKim, Mead and White
- McKim, Mead and White also designed Boston Public Library five years earlier
- Symphony Hall was the first American Hall to have scientific acoustic planning.
- Harvard Professor Wallace C. Sabine did the acoustical research
- President Eisenhower spoke at the National Council of Catholic Women in 1954
- 1,000 Navy Inducts were sworn in at Symphony Hall in 1942
- Holiday Pops started in 1973 and was first called "A Pops Christmas Party."
- Arthur Fiedler was the first conductor to lead Holiday Pops.
- The hall has served other types of events such as civic observances as various conventions, political meetings, commencements, inaugurations, religious worship, debates, flower shows, fashion shows, automobile shows, ball and banquets.
Event Parking at the Prudential Garage
The Holiday Pops is considered a Special Event and qualifies for discount parking. This means that the Prudential garage is the best place to park for the Holiday Pops.
The parking situation at the Prudential has recently changed to now include automatic checkout. I inquired to the Prudential parking staff on how to take advantage of the discount parking with the new changes.
This is the response I received:
Make sure when you exit the garage to call over the attendant to get your parking discount. Failure to do so will result in a higher parking rate.
Prudental Garage Special Event Rate
Valid for evening and weekend events only, at Symphony Hall, Berklee, Huntington Theater, Jordan Hall
Special $18.00 Event Rate
Enter after 2:00 p.m. Mon-Fri
Enter after 7:00 a.m. Weekends
Exit by 3:00 a.m.
Customer must surrender ticket event stub at garage exit
Symphony Hall is a 5-minute walk from the Prudential Center.
|December 1, 2016|
Prudential Skywalk Observatory
One of the best views of Boston is from the 50th floor of the Prudential Building. That's where you'll find the Skywalk Observatory - Boston's only 360 city view.
Along with the amazing view of Boston are several interactive exhibits that will inform you about the history of Boston. Some of the exhibits that you'll see when you're walking around the floor:
- Interactive Multimedia Exhibits, including a "Who wants to be an American Citizen?" Which features ten real citizenship question in a Jeopardy-type format.
- Multimedia Theater - A state-of-the-art movie theater, which continually runs two short films: "Wings Over Boston," an up-close feel of the entire city, and "Dreams of Freedom," a multimedia journey through time.
- Boston Immigration - Learn how immigrants came to Boston. See example items that people would pack in their crates as they made their journey to America.
Fun Facts about the Prudential SkyWalk
- The Prudential Tower is 750 feet tall, 150 feet wide and 178 feet long.
- The Observatory is 50 stories above ground. (740 feet)
- It takes 30 seconds, via elevator, to get to the 50-story observation. This means the elevator is traveling 24 ft/s (feet per second)
- When the Skywalk first opened on April 19, 1965, people waited in line up to four hours to get to the top.
- The ticket booth in the Prudential Mall, near Dunkin Donuts, will let you know the current visibility. In addition, you can also go up to the 50th floor and see the visibility before deciding to purchase tickets.
- When you get off of the elevator and walk to the ticket booth, the first view you see is Cambridge.
- Mt. Wachusetts is visible from the Prudential Skywalk.
- On a clear day, you can see the mountains of New Hampshire and far into the South Shore.
- There is a penny souvenir machine - bring quarters and pennies if you collect Penny Souvenirs.
- The four telescopes around the floor take 2 quarters and worth it if you would like a close up views of faraway points. There is a little step so that little ones can see through the telescope.
- The 500,000 visitor was greeted on a ceremony on September 2, 1965 - 135 days after the SkyView opened.
- In 1980, it cost $1.75 to access the Observatory.
- Prudential garage can hold 3,500 automobiles.
When to Visit
Visit in the afternoon if you looking for views/pictures of Fenway Park, Metro West and Back Bay
Visit in the morning if you want good pictures of Downtown Boston. Otherwise, you may end up seeing the Prudential shadow in your pictures.
Downtown Boston from the Skywalk Observatory at 3pm on November 11, 2016.
|November 24, 2016|
Christmas Tree from Halifax
The Halifax Explosion occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of December 6, 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin.
The low-speed collision caused a series of chain reactions that resulted in a fast moving fire on the SS Mont-Banc. The fire caused a ignited the cargo on the SS Mont-Banc, causing a large explosion that devastated the seaport district of Halifax. Nearly 2,000 people were killed by blast and collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured.
As soon as the news hit Boston, locals scrambled to send help to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Within 24-hours after the accident, a train was loaded up with medical supplies and was sent up north. Unfortunately, a major snow storm hit and the train was delayed and didn't arrive until December 9th.
The train arrived in Halifax just in time as supplies were badly needed, in addition, the medical staff on the train was able to cover for many of those that were working since the explosion occurred.
Nova Scotia Starts a Tradition
Nine years after the incident, the city of Halifax sent a Christmas in appreciation of the support by the people of Boston. The tree was also a way to promote Christmas Tree exports from Nova Scotia. The annual gift was soon taken over by the Nova Scotia Government as a way to promote the goodwill gesture and to promote Nova Scotia to Boston.
Christmas Tree Timeline
Here's the timeline that happens every year:
- June/July - Scouts look for the perfect tree to send to Boston. Halifax residences can submit their tree.
- November 14th - Tree is cut down in a large tree cutting ceremony
- November 16th - Tree leaves Halifax to Boston in a Grand Parade. (750 Miles to Boston)
- November 21st - Tree arrives in Boston
- December 1st - Tree lighting Ceremony at the Boston Commons.
Christmas Tree Requirements
There are certain requirements for the Christmas Tree, as not just any tree will do:
- Attractive Balsam Fir
- White Spruce or Red Spruce
- 12 to 16 Meters tall (40 to 50 feet)
- Very healthy with excellent color
- Medium to heavy Density
- Uniform and Symmetrical
- Easy to Access
Halifax Christmas Tree Fun Facts
This year marks the 99th of the Halifax Explosion.
It cost Nova Scotia $250,000 (Canada) a year to send a tree to Boston.
The Nova Scotia CA story has a complete cost breakdown of the true cost of sending the tree to Boston.
Most of the Christmas trees come from the open land and not from Christmas Tree farms. Landowners that agree to give up their tree get some compensation, last year a family was paid $500.
An average Balsam Tree grows less than 12" a year. Which means that a qualified Balsam Fir would have to have been planted at least 40 years ago to be eligible for Boston.
Nova Scotia pays for the lighting ceremony in Boston.
|November 17, 2016|
Boston's Old City Hall
At the corner of Washington and State Street is Massachusetts Old State House building.
History of the Building
The building played an important part of the history of the United States. The Boston Massacre happened in front of the building on March 5, 1770. The Declaration of Independence was read for the first time in Boston to a crowd on July 18th, 1776. After the Revolution, the building was the location of the Massachusetts State government.
It served as Boston City Hall (1830 - 1841) and as a commercial building (1841-1881).
Since 1881 the building has been a museum run by the Bostonian Society.
The Queen of England gave a speech on the famous balcony on July 4, 1976.
Will Kids enjoy the Museum?
Youth (6-18) are free, so there's nothing to lose by taking them to the Old State House.
There are a couple of rooms on the second floor where my five-year daughter had some fun in.
In the "State Room" there are some puzzles to put together. Kids can try to rebuild the Old City Hall with a tall puzzle, build a wall using soft bricks and try to piece together an old photo.
In the "Old State House: A Hands-on History" room kids can draw a small picture and then hang it on the wall. There are story books to read all about Boston history at a kids size table. Kids can re-create the process of having to fix the clock.
Average time in the museum is about 45 minutes, it depends on how much you're into Boston history and if you take the tour.
The souvenir shop has lots of goodies for kids. There are lots of colonial period items such as a feather pen and scrolls. On this trip, we picked up a large pencil since it's similar to the one she uses at school.
You do not have to go to the museum to visit the gift shop, so if your walking by the Old State House it's worth just stopping by for some unique Boston Souvenirs. Your purchase supports the museum, so it's for a good cause. (There's a good selection of Boston coffee mugs if you're looking something for the office.)
Parents with kids are always concern about bathrooms...
In the basement is a bathroom that was reasonably clean, you do have to purchase museum tickets to use the bathroom. It's a good pit stop if you're heading towards downtown crossing or the commons since good bathrooms are hard to find.
My five-year-old daughter had a fun time learning about history at the museum. She enjoyed learning about how colonial chairs were made, sitting at the head of the table, looking at the old clothes and seeing history up close. She had a fun time with the puzzles and was excited to put up a drawing on the board with her name.
|November 10, 2016|
Charles Hilgenhurst Medallion
How the recent renovation at the Government Center MBTA station killed a view of a Boston landmark.
Between King Burial Grounds and Granary Burying Ground is a small medallion on the sidewalk pavement. The medallion is a bit hidden and is probably missed by many tourists walking between King Burial Grounds and Boston Commons.
Here is a picture of the medallion that is in front of the Omni Parker House:
The inscription reads:
March 21, 2016
Today when you look up towards the King Burial Grounds, to see The North Church Tower, this is what you see:
When the MBTA redesigned the Government Center back in 2014, they added a 40-foot glass structure. However, didn't take into account blocking the North Church Tower. You can still see part of the church through the glass structure, but the view is definitely blocked. At night, the glass structure is blue, which would completely prevent you from seeing the Church tower.
I wasn't able to find any information on why Charles Hilgenhurst wanted the view to be visible from the Omni Parker House. There isn't any document online or at the Boston Public Library about installing the medallion.
Locating the Marker
The medallion is located 3,580.80 feet (1091.43 meters) from the The North Church.
The medallion is located on Boylston Street, near the intersection of School Street. The GPS coordinates is: 42.357675, -71.060633
|November 3, 2016|
Boston Radio GraphicThis week's post highlights some of Boston most popular radio stations. I created a reference chart to where you can find those stations on the dial.
Top Three Stations
WROR, Boston's Greatest Hits Station, continues to dominate the Boston radio market. Month after Month they are what Bostonians are listing to all day.
WMJX, Magic 106.7, is a mass appeal radio station that plays songs that have stood the test of time, along with the best new music in the contemporary arena today. You’ll hear Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, Pink and Elton John…it’s the best variety anytime!
Boston is a huge sports town and people like to talk sports over local politics. WBZ, the Sports Hub, and WEEI are neck and neck fighting to entertain their listeners.
General Talk Radio is very limited in the Boston Market. It seems that WRKO is that last of the major stations to survive.
Radio Dial Graphic
Download Boston's Radio Graphic to discover where the top 13 stations are on the radio dial. This is useful if you're setting up the station memory slots on your car radio.
If you want a higher resolution copy for print, let me know and I'll send you a high-quality PDF version.
I'll update the graphic anytime there are major changes to any of the stations.
For those that were disappointed about not learning anything about Boston's history. We'll go back to exploring various sites around Boston - next week.
If you have any site that you want featured, let me know!