Saturday, January 25, 2014

Last Building Standing

From Dave Brigham:

Boston's West End was wiped off the map in the late 1950's and early '60's to make way for The Future, and it was a huge mistake.

Once densely packed and relatively low-slung the way Boston's North End still is, the West End was considered a slum, and so it was bulldozed to make way for low- and middle-income high rises. Those tall, ugly, spread-out buildings make up Charles River Park, and are now home mostly to luxury dwellers, according to the West End Museum.

Oddly, though, there is one building left from the old West End.

Located directly behind a General Service Administration federal building and very close to the TD Garden (home of the Bruins and Celtics) and spitting distance from the Leverett down-ramp from I-93, this building has four floors and is covered on two sides by a revolving series of billboards.

I'm not sure if each floor is a residence, or if there are offices there. I spied four cars on the property when I walked by. One of the cars doesn't look like it's moved since Larry Bird was running the parquet at the old Boston Garden.

There are two stories circulating online about why this building was spared when hundreds all around it were razed. The least interesting of the two has it that the building's tenants simply refused to leave, and the city didn't want to deal with having to haul them out. Seems to me residents of other buildings would have done the same thing, so why was this structure spared?

The other theory about why this building became the sole surviving connection to Boston's more squalid past involves the Mob. The owner of the building reportedly was the bookie of one-time Boston mobster Jerry Angiulo, and had connections to local officials and because of this, somehow he was allowed to keep his building. Maybe he had dirt on local pols, who knows.

Neither of these stories is particularly satisfying, and I don't believe either. Somebody tell me the truth!

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