"Dirty Old Boston"

shawn

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It most definitely isn’t. My guess is Buffalo.

The first and third pics aren’t Boston either.

The only Boston pic is the 4th.
The first three are of Minneapolis. You can prominently see the Hennepin County Government Center in the first two pics and the University of Minnesota in the background. The third is looking at the opposite view, to the northwest, where Target Field is today. I'm guessing these were taken around 1973-74, from the newly-completed IDS Center.
 

Charlie_mta

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Nice picture but is it of a healthy vibrant urban area? I am not a fan of Urban Renewal but I think we often fetishize the good ole days that weren't.
No doubt the Scollay Square/Haymarket Square area was run down, but it could have been rejuvenated with surgically inserted developments and public initiatives, rather than bulldozing everything to the ground and replacing it with sterile superblocks. Look at what the former Combat Zone has become today for a better solution.
 

bakgwailo

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No doubt the Scollay Square/Haymarket Square area was run down, but it could have been rejuvenated with surgically inserted developments and public initiatives, rather than bulldozing everything to the ground and replacing it with sterile superblocks. Look at what the former Combat Zone has become today for a better solution.
Really, most of the city, especially towards the inner core was pretty rundown at that point. Along with the Combat Zone, look at the South End, Fenway/Kenmore Sqr, even the backside of Beacon Hill that abutted onto Scollay.
 

Charlie_mta

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Really, most of the city, especially towards the inner core was pretty rundown at that point. Along with the Combat Zone, look at the South End, Fenway/Kenmore Sqr, even the backside of Beacon Hill that abutted onto Scollay.
It was. At the time (the 1960s), no one could foresee the resurgence of urban life that would happen in subsequent decades all across the country, especially in places like Boston. In the 1950s and 60s, Boston was frightened of falling into a state of permanent decay and decline. Federal money for large scale urban renewal projects was readily available, and so the obvious answer at the time was to bulldoze the rundown areas and replace them with suburban-looking developments to try to attract businesses and residents back from the suburbs to the city. In hindsight it was unnecessary, as it turns out these areas would have rejuvenated themselves in a much more organic and wholistic way, without being bulldozed, but nobody could see that at the time.
 

bobthebuilder

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Man, I only have a few vague memories of the Central Artery as a kid, mostly from Aquarium trips. What an awful thing it was.
Driving by Rowes Wharf and looking to see if the flag was up in the arch was always a milestone for me on our family trips to NH.
 

squidman1

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Anyone have good, clear photos of the first Independence Wharf building?
 

Life Coach Mike

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I had no idea a whole city block was torn down for the Christian Science arcades, tower and reflecting pool. At least I’ve never seen a photo of it. Thanks!
Not to mention the blocks of residences on Mass Ave that were eliminated for the new church owned apartment block on one side and the cleared plaza/entrance on the other side.
 

Life Coach Mike

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It wasn't that bad - it was basically a big train yard that they decked over.
Actually the train yard was where the Pru complex is. And it needed no decking over tracks since they were long gone, but rather was built on a huge underground garage that had to make room for US 90. What eventually would need decking was US 90 which left holes that were eventually filled with Copley Place. The CS center owned it's own land and apartment blocks which they tore down.
 

Life Coach Mike

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Nice picture but is it of a healthy vibrant urban area? I am not a fan of Urban Renewal but I think we often fetishize the good ole days that weren't.
I agree. I remember the area...it was semi-industrial, dumpy, dirty, grimy, and most of the buildings were not fully occupied. No one lived there, but instead the area served as a reminder of better days when Scollay, Dock and Haymarket Squares were a small commercial hub left behind by the more serious banking/commerce found in the rest of downtown. Yet I often wonder, with today's rehabbing and mixed use concepts, what the area could have been like. Though certainly it would have to be almost a total walking area as most of the streets were just too tight for traffic and parking and allowing ease of movement in and out. It certainly would not have been the tourist mecca it is today.
 

George_Apley

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I agree. I remember the area...it was semi-industrial, dumpy, dirty, grimy, and most of the buildings were not fully occupied. No one lived there, but instead the area served as a reminder of better days when Scollay, Dock and Haymarket Squares were a small commercial hub left behind by the more serious banking/commerce found in the rest of downtown. Yet I often wonder, with today's rehabbing and mixed use concepts, what the area could have been like. Though certainly it would have to be almost a total walking area as most of the streets were just too tight for traffic and parking and allowing ease of movement in and out. It certainly would not have been the tourist mecca it is today.
Sure, but the grit and grime would have gentrified had it survived the hollowing out of Urban Renewal. It would surely be more vibrant today if it had survived than as it stands.
 

tocoto

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If Boston had joined in city growth and development in the early 20th century like NYC, Philly and Chicago, there might have been more worthy buildings in Boston instead of so much outdated and dilapidated stock needing replacement by the time the 1950s arrived. No one will ever know what could have been, but Boston's provincialism combined with small minded leaders and power brokers hurt the city during the first half of the 20th century.

Both of my parents lived in Boston in the 30s and 40s and they said it was filthy with smoke and soot everywhere and becoming decrepit. I remember going to a Sox ballgame in the 60s with my dad when our family didn't live in Boston and him saying the city had once been magnificent but was falling down now. The first time I travelled to NYC in the 60s I was blown away not just by its immensity but also the building quality, even as a teenager I could see 20th century NYC architecture was far better than Boston's.

The bulldozing of the west, Scollay Sq., NY streets and much more was almost certainly a mistake and now decades later the slow replacement of those buildings and neighborhoods has not been great. This cannot be blamed solely on greedy developers. The city, it's citizens and leaders shaped the growth of the city. We the people allowed and even demanded fat, short, boring, dark isolated buildings and uninspired architecture. We cannot change the past but maybe as new generations of people begin to vote and come to power, Boston might have a renaissance, something I have hoped for during my 60+ years.

I began watching Boston development in the 1970s. The Boston area and its economy have boomed during much of the period since then but city development has been comparatively slow. Focus has been placed on extracting concessions from city developers and limiting the scope of projects squeezing profits from both ends and yielding many mediocre, VE'd buildings with little or no merit. Although not as bad, the small minded development and city planning approach of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is reminiscent of the early 20th century when Boston missed an opportunity. Saving Boston's legacy architecture while allowing the building great projects that compliment and enhance one another is not part of Boston's DNA. However, in the past few years seeing projects like the SST, Congress St, North station, Filenes makes me optimistic that maybe Boston is finally about to embrace its stature and break out of its self imposed box.
 

Charlie_mta

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If Boston had joined in city growth and development in the early 20th century like NYC, Philly and Chicago, there might have been more worthy buildings in Boston instead of so much outdated and dilapidated stock needing replacement by the time the 1950s arrived. No one will ever know what could have been, but Boston's provincialism combined with small minded leaders and power brokers hurt the city during the first half of the 20th century.
That's fascinating about the early 20th century. I had heard that Boston missed the opportunity to become a major seaport when NYC pulled ahead with its Erie Canal access to the west.
 

shmessy

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If Boston had joined in city growth and development in the early 20th century like NYC, Philly and Chicago, there might have been more worthy buildings in Boston instead of so much outdated and dilapidated stock needing replacement by the time the 1950s arrived. No one will ever know what could have been, but Boston's provincialism combined with small minded leaders and power brokers hurt the city during the first half of the 20th century........
Same story, next century.............
 

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