Postcard from the Back Bay

Back Bay

Looking up Boylston Street from the corner of Berkeley in the 19th century. At right is the New England Museum of Natural History, a predecessor of the Boston Museum of Science. (The building is now occupied by Restoration Hardware — sigh.) To its left is the Boston Institute of Technology, now MIT. The tower at the far left is Old South Church in Copley Square. (via) I work nearby and pass this spot every day.

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The First Flight

The first successful powered flight by the Wright brothers, 1903.

The Atlantic has posted a series of remarkable photos of the Wright brothers’ early experiments in flight. Above:

First flight: 120 feet in 12 seconds, on December 17, 1903. This photograph shows man’s first powered, controlled, sustained flight. Orville Wright at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine. Orville Wright preset the camera and had John T. Daniels squeeze the rubber bulb, tripping the shutter.

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Flickr Find of the Day

Back Bay 1870's

The Back Bay in progress. Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, looking west toward the intersection of Dartmouth Street, ca. 1872. The photo seems to have been taken from the tower of the First Baptist Church, on the corner of Clarendon Street. From the wonderful Flickr stream of the Boston Public Library.

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Boston rapid transit map, 1954

Boston Rapid Transit map 1954

Click image to view full size. Via Cartographia.

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Boston, 1940

Boston, Valentine's Day Blizzard, 1940

The 1940 Valentine’s Day Blizzard. Cars on Washington Street in Boston stalled out in the heavy snow, Feb. 14, 1940. (Via Boston Globe)

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Today’s paper

Boston Globe after Obama's re-election

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Demolition of Boston’s West End

West End

Chambers and Barton Streets, July 19, 1959 (via).

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Antietam, 1862


“A lone grave on the Antietam battlefield” (1862)
Alexander Gardner (via Slate)

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Richard and Mildred Loving, 1965


Richard and Mildred Loving (1965), by Life photographer Grey Villet.

Exiled from their native Virginia for violating the state’s anti-miscegenation laws, the couple were the appellants in the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia (1967). The Lovings’ story is told here. More on the Life magazine photos here and here.

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Iconic images colorized


Iconic images restored and colorized. (via NPR)

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Copley Square, 1910

Copley Square 1910

Copley Square from the roof of the Boston Public Library, ca. 1910 (Boston Public Library, via Park & Tremont)

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Italy, 1940

Duce Duce Duce

Photo by Carl Mydans. (Life Magazine)

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San Francisco, 1906

San Francisco after the quake

San Francisco after the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906 (via Shorpy).

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New York, 1902

Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building under construction, ca. 1902. (Via Library of Congress.)

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Golden Gate Bridge under construction

Golden Gate Bridge worker

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Penn Station, ca. 1910

Penn Station


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Mannahatta, 1609

Manahatta 1609

Mannahatta, 1609, as Henry Hudson found it. Reminds me of this:

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

More about The Mannahatta Project here and here.

Montgomery, Alabama, 1958

MLK arrested, 1958

Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested for loitering outside a courtroom where his friend Ralph Abernathy is appearing for a trial, Montgomery, Alabama, September 3, 1958. Photo by Charles Moore.

Cologne, 1945 cont’d

Sander - Cologne in ruins

August Sander – Cologne, north side of Neumarkt, in the background is the Church of the Apostles (1945-46)  (via)

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Cologne, 1945

Sander - Church of St. Ursula

August Sander – Church of St. Ursula, Cologne, 1945-46 (via)

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