Richard Herndon.

Boston of to-day : a glance at its history and characteristics. With biographical sketches and portraits of many of its professional and business men online

. (page 1 of 76)
Online LibraryRichard HerndonBoston of to-day : a glance at its history and characteristics. With biographical sketches and portraits of many of its professional and business men → online text (page 1 of 76)
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Patrick Donahoe, 1811-1901
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Given by
James Ford



BOSTON OF TO-DAY



A GLANCE AT ITS HISTORY AND

CHARACTERISTICS



WITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES AND PORTRAITS OF MANY OF ITS
PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS MEN



COMPILED INKER THE SUPERVISION
OF

RICHARD HERNDON

E I) I T li D P. V ED W IN" M . B A CON



JllustratrU



BOSTON

POST PUBLISHI N G COMPANY

1892



{ N .|>\ i ight, 1S92



RICHARD IIKRNDON



Borktucll Hnt» Chuul)ill

B OSTO N






I 8 ?Z>



TABLE OF CONTENTS.



I. BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION:

A Glance at the History of Boston — Its Development from

the Little Commercial Town to the Great Modern City . i

II. BOSTON'S BUSINESS INTERESTS:

Trade and Commerce a Half-century ago and now ... 3

III. TRADE CENTRES:

Retail, Wholesale, and Financial Quarters, past and present . 8

IV. RAILROADS:

Development of the Great Lines centring in Boston — The

Street-Car System 10

V. SOME NOTEWORTHY BUILDINGS:

Public and other Structures, Modern and Historic, and Insti-
tutions within the Business Quarters 27

VI. THE NEW WEST END:

Rise and Progress of the Back-Bay Improvement — Distinguish-
ing Features of the District To-day — Its Buildings,
Churches, and Dwellings 54

VII. THE SOUTH END:

Its Development from the Narrow Neck — Interesting Institu-
tions and Churches — The Great Cathedrai 73

VIII. NORTH AND OLD WEST ENDS:

Quaint and Picturesque Ways and By-ways — Beacon Hill and

its Literary Quarter — Some Interesting Landmarks . . 81

IX. THE COMMON AND THE GARDEN:

Modern Features of the Historic "Trayning Field" of

Winthrop's Time and the Newer Park 85



i v TABLE OF CONTENTS.

I'AGE

X. THE THEATRES:

Earlier Boston Playhouses and those of To-day .... 90

XI. THE CLUBS:

Features of the many Social and Professional Organizations

of the Town 100

XII. THE OUTLYING DISTRICTS:

East Boston, South Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown,

West Roxbury, and Brighton 106

XIII. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES AND PORTRAITS of Business and

Professional Men 120




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Boston Harbor, showing the "Atlanta" of the White Squadron
Richards Building ........

Station of Boston & Albany Railroad ....

Station of Boston & Maine Railroad — Western Division

Station of Boston & Maine Railroad — Eastern Division.

Station of Boston & Maine Railroad — Lowell Division .

Station of the Old Colony Railroad — Providence Division

Station of Old Colony Railroad — Main Division .

Station of Old Colony Railroad at North Easton .

Station of Fitchburg Railroad .....

View of Hoosac Tunnel, Fitchburg Railroad .

Station at Waltham, Fitchburg Railroad .

Station of the New York & New England Railroad, with Interior Views of " White

I. The Royal Smoker. 2. Dining Car. 3. Parlor Car. 4. Interior View of Pullman Sleeper, Long Island

Station of Boston, Revere Beach, & Lynn Railroad.
View of Electric Car on Tremont Street, Wksi End Street Railway
Steamer " Swampscott," of the Boston, Revere Beach, & Lynn Railroad
Interior View of Power-house of West End Street Railway
Interior View of Power-house of West End Si kit i Rah.w \\
Chamber of Commerce .......

Iron Building — G. T. McLauthlin eV- Co.
Faneuil Hall . . . . . - .

Proposed New Building of the International Trust Company
foHN Hancock Building .



Building of the American Bell Telephone

State-street Exchange .

Fiske Building ....

John C. Paige Insurance Building

Ames Building ....

New Court House .

Si irs Building ....

City Hall ....



Company



Train "

Train.



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VI



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



Albion Building — Houghton & Duiton .

Chadwick Building — W. H. Brine .

State House .......

The Pemberton ......

Building of the American Protective League .
Hotel Yendome ......

Copley Square .......

New Public Library ......

Building of the American Legion of Honor
Woodbury Building ......

Pierce Building ......

Langham Hotel ......

Niu England Conservatory oi Music
Washingtonian Home .....

Building of the Popi Manufai puring Company .
Public Garden .......

Interior View of Boston Theatre
Interior View of Hollis-streei Theatre .
Exterior View of the New Columbia Theatri .
Piuii.DiNi; ok the S. A. Win his Mm hint. Company
Works of the Walworth Manufacturing Company
Boston (Ias Works ......

Residence of John P. Spaulding

Residence of Charles V. Whitten

Building of the Forbes Lithographk Company.

Hunker Hill Monument .....

Works of the Low Art Tile Company
Residence of William F. Weld



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118




BOSTON OF TO-DAY.



I.



BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION.

A GLANCE AT THE HISTORY OF BOSTON ITS DE-
VELOPMENT FROM THE LITTLE COMMERCIAL TOWN
TO THE GREAT MODERN CITY.

AMONG American cities Boston holds a unique
position. It is to-day at once the most
famous of the few historic cities of the republic
and in the best sense the most progressive. In
no other city of our bounding country is there
such a peculiar blending of the old and the new,
the ancient and the modern, as here in Boston. In
its business quarters are well-preserved landmarks of
the colonial, the provincial, and the revolutionary
periods cheek by jowl with the most modern struct-
ures of this age of progress. Sterling citizens suc-
cessfully maintain conservative business methods,
while enterprises of the greatest importance and
magnitude in distant parts of the country, as well
as within the city's boundaries, are fostered and ad-
vanced by Boston merchants and Boston capitalists.
Possessing the genius and sagacity of the merchants
of the earlier Boston who won the famous sobriquet
of " solid," the men of the Boston of To-day also
display the characteristics which are found in the
best type of the enterprising American of these
times. While Boston men have developed from
the compact little commercial town of fifty years
ago the substantial modern metropolis, Boston cap-
ital has built great Western cities and established
great Western railways, developing the resources
of the country and opening up its incalculable
agricultural and mineral wealth.

For many years after the settlement, the North
End, the earliest " court end " of the town, was the
greater part of Boston proper. The original Boston



consisted of a " pear-shaped peninsula " about two
miles long, and one mile wide at its broadest part,
broken by little creeks and coves and diversified by
three hills. The loftiest of these — reduced into
our present Beacon hill — was described by the
early chroniclers as " a high mountaine with three
little hils on the top of it." And it was this forma-
tion of the highest hill that suggested the name
" Trimontaine," first given the place by the set-
tlers at Charlestown, and which Winthrop's men
changed to " Boston " when they moved across the
river, in October, 1630, and established the new
town. Until after the Revolution the topographi-
cal features of the town were not greatly changed.
Towards the close of the last century, in 17S4,
Shurtleff relates, the North End, which had then
" begun to lose its former prestige and gave un-
questionable evidence of decay and unpopularity,"
contained about 680 dwelling-houses and tene-
ments and 6 meeting-houses ; " New Boston,"
or that portion we now call the " Old West End,"
including Beacon hill, about 170 dwelling-houses
and tenements ; and the South End, then extend-
ing from the "Mill bridge " in Hanover street, over
the old canal, to the fortifications on " the Neck,"
near Dover street, about 1,250 dwelling-houses, 10
meeting-houses, all the public buildings, and the
principal shops and warehouses. " Some of the
mansion-houses of this part," says Shurtleff, writing
twenty years ago, " would now be considered mag-
nificent ; and the Common, although perhaps not
so artistically laid out, with paths and malls as
now, was as delightful a training-ground and pub-
lic walk as at the present time." No streets had
then been constructed west of Pleasant street and
the Common.

Early in the present century, in 1803, Charles
street was laid out ; the next year Dorchester Neck
and Point, the territory forming the greater part of



BOSTON OF TO-DAY.



what is now South Boston, were annexed to Boston ;
twenty years later, when the town had become a city,
came the great improvements of the elder Quincy,
the second mayor, 1 whose administration covered
six terms, from 1823 to 1829. These included the
building of the Quincy Market-house, officially
termed the Faneuil Hall, to the confusion of citizens
as well as strangers ; the opening of six new streets
and the enlargement of a seventh ; and the acquisi-
tion of flats, docks, and wharf rights to the extent
of 142,000 square feet; "all this," says Quincy's
Municipal History, "accomplished in the centre of
a populous city not only without any tax, debt, or
burden upon its pecuniary resources, but with large
permanent additions to its real and productive prop-
erty." Next, in 1830, the development of the
newer South End, south of Dover street to the Rox-
bury line, was begun, though not systematically pur-
sued until about twenty years later; in 1833 the
upbuilding of " Noddie's Island," before that time
a " barren waste," we are toid, but none the less a
picturesque spot and a favorite with fishing-parties,
was energetically started, when its name was changed
to " East Boston ; " in 1857 the great " Back Bay Im-
provement," the result of which is the beautiful
" New West End " of to-day, began ; at the same
time the " marsh at the bottom of the Common,"
over which there had been controversy for years, was
formally set apart for the Public Garden, and soon
after systematic plans for its development made ;
in 1867 the city of Roxbury was annexed to Boston
by popular vote (becoming officially connected in
January, 1868), in 1869 the town of Dorchester
(officially joined in January, 1870), and in 1873
the city of Charlestown and the towns of Brighton
and West Roxbury (officially, in January, 1874) ;
and after the great fire of November, 1872, which
burned over sixty-five acres in the heart of the busi-
ness quarter and destroyed property valued at S75,-
000,000, immense street improvements were made
through the widening and straightening of old thor-
oughfares and the opening of new ones, and a
more substantial and more modern business quar-
ter, architecturally finer in some respects than any
similar quarter in any other American city, was
built up.

By the reclamation of the broad, oozy salt
marshes, the estuaries, coverts, and bays once
stretching wide on its southern and northern
borders, the original 783 acres upon which Boston
town was settled have been expanded to 1,829 acres

1 Boston was made a city in 1S22, and John Phillips, father of Wen.
dell Phillips, was elected the first mayor. The first city government
was organized on the 1st of May that year.



of solid land, and by annexation from time to time
21,878 acres have been added, 2 making the present
total 23,707 acres, or 37.04 square miles. Where
the area was the narrowest it is now the widest, and
in place of the compact little town of a hundred
years ago on its "pear-shaped peninsula" less than
two miles in its extreme length and its greatest
breadth only a little more than one, is the greater
Boston of To-day, extending from north to south
eleven miles and spreading nine miles from east to
west. In place of the population of 25,000 which
the Boston of the first year of the present century,
counted, the Boston of To-day counts 450,000 ; and
the taxable valuation of the city has increased from
$15,095,700 in 1800, to $911,638,887 (Feb. 1,
1892). The total taxable area in the city is 716,-
215,872 square feet. The total number of dwelling-
houses is 52,831 ; of hotels, 86 ; of family hotels,
512 ; of store buildings, 3,553 ; and miscellaneous,
5,728. In municipalities within a radius of eight
miles of the State House the population in 1891 was
over 680,000, and of twelve miles, 873,000, or 38.97
per cent, of the entire population of the State. Of
this surrounding territory the Boston of To-day is
the real business centre.

The greatest and most marked changes that have
taken place between old and new Boston have been
effected within the memory of many persons now
living. In the transformation much of the pictur-
esqueness and old-time charm has disappeared, but
in their stead there is much in the beautiful modern
city to delight the eye ; while the flavor of mellow
age which with all its modernness the town yet re-
tains, and the blending of the old and new which it
so frequently displays, have a fascination which no
other American city possesses. In its intellectual
and artistic growth and development its progress has
been as marked as in its physical aspects and its
material prosperity. The great educational and
literary institutions of the Boston of To-day, both
public and private, stand among the very highest.
Its public-school system, its Public Library, its Art
Museum, its Museum of Natural History, its Insti-
tute of Technology, its Athenaeum, and its collec-
tions of historical treasures, are all in their way
unsurpassed. In literature it has long been pre-
eminent, and in spite of the gaps which death has
made in the ranks of its authors, its primacy in this
respect is not seriously threatened. Many of the
most important books of the day bear the Boston

2 In this total are included the S36 acres secured by the develop-
ment of East Boston, and the 7S5 acres of Breed's Island. No account
is made of the 437 acres of Rainsford, Gallop's, Long, Deer, and
Apple Islands, and the Great Brewster, all of which are within the
city limits.



BOSTON OF TO-DAY.



imprint, its publishing houses are among the fore-
most in the country, and the best of its periodical
publications are held at the high standard which
Boston was among the earliest in the history of
American literature to reach. In the department of
music its superiority is everywhere acknowledged.
The first of American cities to take an advanced
position with respect to musical taste and culture, it
has steadfastly held the lead, and to-day its Symphony
Orchestra and its many musical associations admir-
ably maintain its position. Offering greater advan-
tages than any other American city, and affording
through the winters practically unlimited opportuni-
ties of hearing the very best music of the highest
grade, it attracts large numbers of musical students
and patrons of the art. Its theatres, too, are among
the most beautiful and comfortable in the country.
And important factors in the social and cultivated
life of the town are its numerous literary, art, pro-
fessional, business, and social clubs, many of them
established in finely appointed club-houses.

In philanthropic, benevolent, charitable, and
church work the Boston of To-day is also among the
foremost. Its institutions for the benefit of the
people or of those classes who need a helping hand,
for the relief of the suffering and the afflicted, and
for the care of the unfortunate, are many and varied ;
and they are nobly sustained. It has been esti-
mated that the capital invested in charitable work in
the city is $16,000,000 ; that there is one charitable
or benevolent society for every twenty thousand
people within its boundaries ; and that the annual pri-
vate contributions of Bostonians for benevolent pur-
poses exceed half a million dollars. Through the
local organization widely known as the " Associated
Charities " many of the societies and associations
are brought into close communion, and the work is
so systematized that it is made more effective and
thorough than it could possibly be were each organ-
ization operating independently in the field. Of the
church buildings many are fine examples of the best
architectural work of the day, and in church prop-
erty millions of dollars are invested. The religious
organizations are active in many directions, and
Boston clergymen are with other good citizens con-
cerned in movements and work for the material
as well as the spiritual well-being of the com-
munity.

In a word, the Boston of To-day is a great modern
city, far reaching in its enterprise and industry, of
manifold activities, a place of many attractions, well
built, fairly adorned ; sustaining well the reputation
which the old town bore as the commercial and in-
tellectual capital of New England.



II.



BOSTON'S BUSINESS INTERESTS.

TRADE AND COMMERCE A HALF -CENTURY AGO AND
Xi i\\ .

'"THERE are few men in active business life in the
* Boston of To-day who can recall at all clearly the
general outlines even of the Boston of half a cen-
tury ago, and fewer still who can trace in detail the
various and remarkable changes which have trans-
formed the bustling little town of that time into the
great city of to-day. In 1840 the three initial rail-
roads, the Lowell, the Providence, and the Worces-
ter, had been in operation but five years, up to which
time the Middlesex Canal to tide-water at Clinton
street, the " wonder of its day," ' had flourished, and
the chief system of internal communication had
consisted of numerous lines of stage-coaches and
baggage-wagons, employing some thousands of fine
horses. The first Cunard steamship had appeared
in the harbor, and regular Atlantic steamship service
had just begun. East Boston, which as late as 1833
had but one dwelling, had only recently been laid
out in lots by the East Boston Company, char-
tered in that year ; South Boston had less than five
thousand inhabitants, distantly removed, save by toll-
bridges, from Boston proper ; and the narrow penin-
sula on which Boston was crowded was reached
from the neighboring places by only one free road,
that over Roxbury Neck.

Of the aspect of the town at the beginning of the
period from 1830 to 1840 a graphic picture was
given in the interesting report of Edward J. Howard,
secretary of the old Board of Trade for the year
1880, marking the two hundred and fiftieth anniver-
sary of the settlement of the town. The area of the
city had not been materially enlarged for a hundred
years. Harrison avenue was then known as Front
street (the name of Harrison was given it in 1841 in
honor of General Harrison), and from Beach street
to the old South Boston bridge was lined with
wharves, where cargoes of wood, grain, and other
commodities were landed and sold. There were but
five houses between what is now Dover street and
the Roxbury line. Lands east and west of Wash-
ington street, and a portion of the Common, were
utilized for the pasturing of cows ; what is now
Causeway street was an irregular and unbroken high-
way. On Beacon hill were the residences of the

1 Begun in 1794 and opened to traffic in 1S03. It extended from
Boston to the Merrimac at East Chelmsford, now Lowell, and water
connection was farther made as far north as Concord, N.H. It con-
tinued in operation until June, 1853.



BOSTON OF TO-DAY.



newer aristocracy — along Beacon street, between
the State House and Charles street, Hancock av-
enue, Louisburg square, Mt. Vernon, Walnut, Chest-
nut, Pinckney, Hancock, Temple, Bowdoin, and
Somerset streets, on the western and southern slopes
of the hill ; the older aristocracy still clinging to
their stately dwellings on Tremont, Winter, Summer,
Franklin, Atkinson (now Congress), Federal, High,
and Purchase streets, Otis place, and even Washing-
ton square on Fort hill, which was described in a
weekly newspaper of the time as "a very princely
quarter." Dock square was then the business cen-
tre of the town, the principal mercantile streets
being Court, Cornhill, Washington, Hanover, Union,
State, North and South Market streets, Merchants
row, Chatham, Blackstone, Commercial, India,
Broad, Central, Doane, Water, Congress, Kilby, and
Milk streets, and Liberty square.

The hotels were few and primitive, with the single
exception of the Exchange Coffee House, at the corner
of State and Congress streets, built on the site of
the greater and grander one burned on the night
of the 3d of November, 1818, 1 where business
men gathered on all public occasions ; but solid
comfort and good cheer were ever to be found
within their hospitable walls. The Eastern Stage
House in Ann (now North) street, with its porte
cochere, was the most venerable. Then there were the
Earles' Coffee House on Hanover street, where the
American House now is, through whose arched por-
tals the Albany stage started once a week ; the
Lamb Tavern on Washington street, where the Adams
House now stands, and the Lion next, its site now
covered by the Bijou Theatre ; the old Marlboro, on
Washington, between Winter and Bromfield streets,



1 The original Exchange Coffee House, built in 1S0S, was a tre-
mendous affair for its day, and a costly speculation for those who en-
gaged in it. More than $500,000 were sunk in the enterprise. It was
a building of seven stories, covering an area of nearly 13,000 feet. The
front, on Congress street, having an arched doorway, was showily
ornamented with six marble pilasters of Ionic order on a rustic base-
ment, supporting an entablature with a Corinthian pediment. Another
entrance, towards State street, was through an Ionic porch. Upon
entering, one stood in a great interior area, in the form of a parallelo-
gram, seventy by forty feet, extending eighty-three feet to the roof,
and lighted by a dome a hundred feet in diameter. Around this area
porticos extended, each consisting of twenty columns which reached
from the ground floor to the roof, and supported galleries leading to
the rooms of the hotel. The principal floor was intended for an Ex-
change, but it was not ustjd by the merchants, as they preferred to meet
on 'Change — in the customary way — in the street. On this floor was
the coffee-room, bar, and reading-room. The great dining-room, with
tables for three hundred persons, was on the second floor. An arched
ball-room, finished in the Corinthian order, extended through the third
and fourth floors; and a masonic hall was on the side of the fifth and
sixth floors. Some famous dinners were given in the big dining-
room, and the great personages who visited the town made the Coffee
House their headquarters. Here Captain Hull stopped when at this
port during the War of 1S12 ; the news of the peace was celebrated by
a great dinner here, at which Harrison Gray Otis presided, on Wash-
ington's Birthday in 1S15 ; and when President Monroe visited Boston
in 1S17 he was entertained here at a banquet of great splendor.



with its painted sign of " St. George and the
Dragon ; " the Bromfield House on Bromfield street ;
the Mansion House and the Commercial Coffee
House on Milk street ; the Bite Tavern on Faneuil
Hall square ; and the old Hancock Tavern near by
on Corn court.

It was between the years 1820 and 1840 that the
town enjoyed its greatest prosperity in foreign and
domestic commerce, leading all its rivals in the ex-
tent and richness of its trade. Then great fortunes
were made by the merchants and shippers engaged
especially in the China and East India trade, the spa-
cious and secure harbor sparkled with shipping from
the great ports of the world, and the wharves were
crowded with vessels discharging and receiving car-
goes. The principal wharves, lined with substan-
tial warehouses, Long, Central, and India, were
owned by corporations; and so extensive were
the shipping interests at the port during this period
and for some years after, that wharf property was the
most remunerative real-estate property in Boston,
several wharves netting an annual income of from
S20,ooo to S6o,ooo.

The old methods of doing business contrasted
strangely with those of to-day, for the merchant
had his counting-room in his warehouse and per-
sonally superintended the sale of his goods, with
the quality and value of which he was supposed
to be most familiar. Merchandise brokers were
scarcely known then, for with their conservative
ideas the solid men of the Boston of that time held
fast to the secrets of their trade. Their counting-
rooms bore no trace of the showiness and splendor
which mark the business offices of the merchants



Online LibraryRichard HerndonBoston of to-day : a glance at its history and characteristics. With biographical sketches and portraits of many of its professional and business men → online text (page 1 of 76)