"Dirty Old Boston"

George_Apley

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To be honest, I'm surprised we don't have a thread like this. Didn't find one after a quick search, but let me know if you all find one.

Share images, videos, and discuss the Boston of yore.
 

George_Apley

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Apart from the urban renewal zones, Kenmore is def one of the most sanitized areas of the city compared to "ye olde days"
 

dhawkins

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I'm sure a bunch of you have seen these before, but for those who haven't, check out these links. After looking thru these photos you will understand the original mission of the BRA; to save the "hopeless backwater".
Dirty Old Boston Facebook site with tons of photos of "Bahston's dirty ol' days".
Nick Dewolf on Flickr was an avid photographer of everyday people in Boston late 60s thru 70s. He traveled all over but there is a concentration on Boston.
Jerry Berndt and John Goodman Combat Zone photos.
 

Bananarama

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That Kenmore photo... All the cool business signs, the lack of the Hotel Commonwealth...
The area is truly dead now. Cornwall's is only thing left there that's worth anything.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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That Kenmore photo... All the cool business signs, the lack of the Hotel Commonwealth...
The area is truly dead now. Cornwall's is only thing left there that's worth anything.
What floors me looking back is just the daily beehive of activity around those those businesses. Everyone was visiting every storefront for completely different reasons. The upper floors were all busy/occupied for different reasons (you could see the hairdressers-in-training at Blaine! practicing on subjects straight from the street). It was loud, kinda messy (look at the triple-parkers!)...but vibrant. "Dirty" implies some kind of blight. Far from it...'97 was already well into the Boston Renaissance, and a melting pot of busy storefronts like that is pretty much the definition of a healthy neighborhood.

Mere months after I took that pic Planet Records burned down (though their Harvard Sq. location still survives, now on a quiet-ish corner of Mt. Auburn St. a few blocks up from Brattle Sq.). That was the first building that was set aside for facade-gutting for the BU-lobotomy of that side of the Square. Ratskeller closed by year's end. Deli Haus kicked the punks out and re-launched as some fly-by-night hipster joint within a year, taking the eatery options down a peg (that's the other thing that's missing today...the greasy spoon spots!). It took a few more years before the evictions started to crescendo in prep for Hotel Commonwealth, but I do believe '97 was the last year the original tenancy of the Square was 100% occupied.


And...fuck...I had just turned 18 and been living in this city all of 6 months when I took that pic. Un-Photoshopped film scan, but I very well remember the sepia tone of the sky on that cold/snotty day and thought it made for a nicely moody shot framed by that crosswalk button. Don't know why I had my camera with me that day; best guess is my roommate had borrowed it again and passed it back to me on campus. I probably was heading to Nuggets or something after lunch. Bless their souls...they're still around in virtually unchanged state from when I was wasting hours per week in there browsing.

Fuck BU forever. I walked by the hole in the ground next to the long-shuttered B&N on Tuesday afternoon and was just numb with disinterest in how lame the new dev was going to be...because of course it would. 😩
 

Charlie_mta

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I'm sure a bunch of you have seen these before, but for those who haven't, check out these links. After looking thru these photos you will understand the original mission of the BRA; to save the "hopeless backwater".
Dirty Old Boston Facebook site with tons of photos of "Bahston's dirty ol' days".
Nick Dewolf on Flickr was an avid photographer of everyday people in Boston late 60s thru 70s. He traveled all over but there is a concentration on Boston.
Jerry Berndt and John Goodman Combat Zone photos.
I agree extensive work was needed on Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/Chelsea after the decline of heavy industrial factories post-WW II and the deterioration of the housing stock. But the renewal should have been done in a much more parcel-level targeted manner, rather than wiping out entire sectors of the city. Hell, with the right parcel-by-parcel approach, the West End of old could have developed into another North End. Same with the Government Center (old Scollay Square) area, I don't think mimicking the WW-II carpet-bombing of Dresden Germany was the answer, but unfortunately that was the course taken, especially by the BRA.

Also, the elevated highways that wiped out large parts of the Bullfinch, Haymarket area, City Square, and Sullivan Square (as discussed on here recently), could have been done with a much lighter touch.
 
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nm88

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I'm sure a bunch of you have seen these before, but for those who haven't, check out these links. After looking thru these photos you will understand the original mission of the BRA; to save the "hopeless backwater".
Dirty Old Boston Facebook site with tons of photos of "Bahston's dirty ol' days".
Nick Dewolf on Flickr was an avid photographer of everyday people in Boston late 60s thru 70s. He traveled all over but there is a concentration on Boston.
Jerry Berndt and John Goodman Combat Zone photos.
Really enjoyed these links - especially the John Goodman site. The video/interview/discussion of his work - compelling. Thank you for sharing!
Dirty Old Boston is an old standby.
 

shmessy

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What floors me looking back is just the daily beehive of activity around those those businesses. Everyone was visiting every storefront for completely different reasons. The upper floors were all busy/occupied for different reasons (you could see the hairdressers-in-training at Blaine! practicing on subjects straight from the street). It was loud, kinda messy (look at the triple-parkers!)...but vibrant. "Dirty" implies some kind of blight. Far from it...'97 was already well into the Boston Renaissance, and a melting pot of busy storefronts like that is pretty much the definition of a healthy neighborhood.

Mere months after I took that pic Planet Records burned down (though their Harvard Sq. location still survives, now on a quiet-ish corner of Mt. Auburn St. a few blocks up from Brattle Sq.). That was the first building that was set aside for facade-gutting for the BU-lobotomy of that side of the Square. Ratskeller closed by year's end. Deli Haus kicked the punks out and re-launched as some fly-by-night hipster joint within a year, taking the eatery options down a peg (that's the other thing that's missing today...the greasy spoon spots!). It took a few more years before the evictions started to crescendo in prep for Hotel Commonwealth, but I do believe '97 was the last year the original tenancy of the Square was 100% occupied.


And...fuck...I had just turned 18 and been living in this city all of 6 months when I took that pic. Un-Photoshopped film scan, but I very well remember the sepia tone of the sky on that cold/snotty day and thought it made for a nicely moody shot framed by that crosswalk button. Don't know why I had my camera with me that day; best guess is my roommate had borrowed it again and passed it back to me on campus. I probably was heading to Nuggets or something after lunch. Bless their souls...they're still around in virtually unchanged state from when I was wasting hours per week in there browsing.

Fuck BU forever. I walked by the hole in the ground next to the long-shuttered B&N on Tuesday afternoon and was just numb with disinterest in how lame the new dev was going to be...because of course it would. 😩

And just a few blocks down and over was the old Exeter Street Theatre. To me as a teenager in the early 1980's that place was magical - - dark, Victorian, the gargoyles on the upper balcony, midnight weekend showings of Rocky Horror with my first girlfriend. It seemed out of several distant past eras of Old Boston. I think they turned it into a bookstore and then a Montessori school. Pains me to even think about it.........oh, what this city has lost over the years.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Oof. What fashion!

The guy with the graphic tee tucked into his short, red, cargo shorts at 1:27 kills me! 😄

Seems like the same time period as this gem:
Speaking of long-shrunken balls videos. . .


Man, that Flynn guy sure knew how to apply lipstick to a pig. :censored:
 

squidman1

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This thread hasn't been talked in for a while, and I guess this is pretty irrelevant/off-topic, but has anyone here ever seen a photo of the Prudential Shops in the 1990s?
 

Massachoicetts

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This thread hasn't been talked in for a while, and I guess this is pretty irrelevant/off-topic, but has anyone here ever seen a photo of the Prudential Shops in the 1990s?
I vaguely remember them. When I think of 1999 Prudential Center, I think of like a mediterranean/yellowish color. The mall is white now but it used to be like a yellowish tint. Fancy looking though.
 

Jahvon09

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This thread hasn't been talked in for a while, and I guess this is pretty irrelevant/off-topic, but has anyone here ever seen a photo of the Prudential Shops in the 1990s?

I have. I still go through there now & then. :)
 

squidman1

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I used to walk 'round the mall a lot in the late 2000's/early 2010's, I do really miss the mediterranean color palette and the ornamental postmodern elements, not to mention the food court.

Here's a video of the mall I found, which seems to be from around maybe 1996 or so (Super Mario 64 in the tech store!) You can see that the Terrace Food Court and the 101 Huntington signs had stayed untouched up until that big renovation.
 

Arenacale

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That Software Etc., man - right in the feels. Got Destruction Derby 2 on PC there! I was 11 when that video was shot, so it hits every sort of adolescent nostalgia trigger I have. The Pru and CambridgeSide were absolute palaces, places that sparked a kid's imagination and that I wanted to spend more time exploring.

Lost in the "Dirty Old Boston" stuff is that transitional period in the '90s during the Big Dig, when the changes the city was undergoing were part of a larger vibe (for lack of a better term) of optimism for the future. I was young enough during that time to not have the worst of the old days register, but old enough to see the positivity in the new stuff. That optimism definitely still exists, especially in the Seaport and Causeway, but it feels different now, like we know exactly what the end state will be and we're so much closer to achieving it. Which is fine, but that feeling of "the possibilities are endless" is something I miss that will never come back.
 

Charlie_mta

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...that feeling of "the possibilities are endless" is something I miss that will never come back.
I'm not so sure about that. The US, and the world for that matter, is in a malaise due to Covid and the political polarization nationally. If somehow we can greatly reduce the inequality in this country, get past racism and get the underclass unstuck, there are no limits to the future for Boston and everywhere else.
 

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