Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Livin' On the Edge

From Gonzo Dave Brigham:

There are thousands of buildings like this spread across Boston's neighborhoods, from East Boston to West Roxbury, Dorchester to Brighton. But this one in Allston is different. You can tell by the small green sign to the left of the front door.

Yes, the Bad Boys of Boston -- Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Joey Kramer, Brad Whitford and Tom Hamilton -- lived in this unassuming building at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in the early 1970s, when they were just starting out. In 2012, the band played a show outside the building, and the City of Boston put up that plaque.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

North End Stroll

From Luigi Brigham:

I head out just about every weekend into Boston with my son. I try to pick out a neighborhood or building or cemetery that I want to explore and take pictures of, and he's generally agreeable as long as we get plenty of subway time. Recently we strolled through a bit of the North End, the part closest to North Station. There's so much to see there, so I plan to get back to take more pictures.

(Eastern Bakers Supply Co. on North Washington Street closed last year, the last of its kind in the neighborhood. Something shiny will surely rise in its place, as is the case throughout the city these days. The business has moved to the suburbs.)

(Next door to Easter Bakers is Boston Brass Andiron Co. Established in 1965, this business is currently open but I'm guessing the hipsters moving into the neighborhood aren't looking for fancy fireplace log holders, so its days may be numbered.)

(Around the corner from the restaurant and andiron supply companies, on Thacher Street, is Sal's Lunch. I've never been there and I have no clue how long it's been open, but I'm guessing the food is good and that this place has been there more than a few decades.)

(Across North Washington Street from Sal's is this billboard. Peter Limone spent 33 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. He was released after a federal judge ruled that the FBI had deliberately withheld information in the trial of Limone and three others. Limone died last year.)

(If I'd shot this in black and white, you'd think it was 1918, not 2018. Well, except for the modern cars.)

(This is one of my favorite ghost signs in Boston. The Scotch 'n Sirloin closed in 1991, but the sign lives on. Located close to what was then the Boston Garden, the restaurant and bar was evidently a favorite with the Celtics, as you can see below.)

(Finally, the very well-preserved Waitt & Bond building. Located on Endicott Street, the building was home to the cigar manufacturer from some time in the late 19th century until 1913, when Waitt & Bond moved its operations to Columbus Avenue in Boston.)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bridging the Gap

From That Guy:

Lately, I've had my eyes peeled for different sorts of things than the usual ghost signs and old buildings. One thing is mosaics at the entry to old storefronts and other businesses -- see June 25, 2018, "Vacancy, But No Rooms". Another is pedestrian bridges -- see April 22, 2018, "Fort Point Channel -- It's Electric!", a post that includes photos and information about the Necco Court bridge in South Boston.

The bridge above is located on Chapman Place in Boston's Downtown Crossing neighborhood, between the Omni Parker House hotel and 44 School Street, which houses several small businesses. Chapman Place is directly across from Old City Hall, and is basically an alleyway between School and Bosworth streets.

I have no idea whether the bridge is still in use. It appears to be well maintained, and has some nice details on it.

44 School Street was built in 1915, and sold for $20 million four years ago to a New York-based company.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Losing Bet at Suffolk Downs

From Dave "Sure Thing" Brigham:

Suffolk Downs, a horse racing track built in 1935 that straddles East Boston and Revere, Mass., has been on life support for years. The facility's death warrant was signed by new owner HYM Investment Group, which announced plans to develop the site after wrapping its acquisition last year. HYM is also pitching the site as a second headquarters for Amazon.

In the meantime, Suffolk will host its final slate of races this summer, and continues to offer simulcast races from other tracks around the country. Track operator Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC recently announced a plan to conduct racing at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds in Western Mass. next year. For photos of the long-abandoned fairgrounds, see February 20, 2011, "Lose, Place or Show."

I never gambled at Suffolk Downs, or any other horse track. I went to the venue many years ago to see a Radiohead concert. I've traveled near the track numerous times over the years of riding the subway with my son, Owen (see July 27, 2011, "Look, Up On the Restaurant"). I decided that, since the track would soon be demolished and replaced with shiny, new things, he and I should check it out. And so we did one recent day.

I was pleasantly surprised that before we got to the track, we spotted some tracks.

These tracks are left over from the Suffolk Downs Loop, according to this article at Boston Streetcars (scroll down). The loop, presumably, brought folks from Boston to the track, and back again. This area also featured the Gladstone Loop, which was used to park and turn around streetcars, and additional tracks that continued to Revere Beach, per the article.

Pretty cool, eh?

I didn't realize how close Suffolk Downs is to the Blue line train station, and how close I'd be able to get for a few photos.

Stay tuned for more photos as this property moves into its next life phase.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Vacancy, But No Rooms

From Dave Brigham:

So there I was, minding my own business outside the Dunkin' Donuts near the North Station subway stop waiting for my son, when I looked down.

I haven't taken a lot of shots of these tiled mosaic business entrances, but I think they're very cool. I was unable to find out much about the Hotel Ketterer. I found a photo online of a shot glass for sale that says "HOTEL KETTERER LADIES AND GENTLEMEN'S CAFE," as well as a June 1916 article from the Cambridge Sentinel that refers to the hotel as "famous." I have no idea when it opened or closed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Skinny and Full of Spite

From Angry Bird:

It's too bad when neighbors don't get along. Years ago my wife and I owned a home in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood, and got along well with the woman who lived next to us. When she died, in her 80s, a woman in her 40s moved in, and we clashed from the start. Long story, short: we sold the house (not because of her) and heard by way of a Christmas card from another neighbor, that the woman who we sold the house to didn't get along with her new neighbor either, and put up a "spite fence" in order to gain some separation. This was the first time I'd heard this term.

Well, in the photo above is a well-known "spite house" in Boston's North End neighborhood. Known as the Skinny House, this quaint abode on Hull Street sits across from Copp's Hill Burying Ground, the city's second cemetery. Built in 1884, the spite house was erected by one brother who had inherited a plot of land, only to come home from the Civil War to find out his brother, and fellow heir, had built a large house on the land. "Miffed, he built the Skinny House, blocking sunlight and his brother’s views of the harbor," according to this Boston magazine story, which is worth reading.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Prince of a Building

Dave "Scoop" Brigham:

This is 88 Prince Street in Boston's North End. At the top it reads "A DESTEFANO A 1915 D BLDG," which I thought would make it easy to find information about the building. I was wrong. I suppose when you're located just a few steps away from both the birthplace of Prince spaghetti and a famous Mafia hangout, it's easy to get overlooked. Let's just assume that among the major influx of Italians to the North End more than a hundred years ago was a family named DeStefano that did so well in manufacturing or shipping or banking that they erected this metal-fronted apartment building.