Union Oyster House, Boston

Union Oyster House in Boston, sometime in the 19th century. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library:

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The historic building around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library:

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In 1930, courtesy of Boston Public Library:

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Sometime between 1934 and 1956. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The Union Oyster House in 2010:

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The above four photos show over 100 years of the history of the oldest restaurant in the United States, the Union Oyster House in Boston.  Although the restaurant opened in 1826, the building itself is far older, having been built around 1704.  The second floor was once used as the publishing office of the Massachusetts Spy in the 1770’s, and in 1796 the future King Louis Philippe of France lived in exile, also on the second floor.  Since becoming a restaurant, the Union Oyster House (originally Atwood & Bacon Oyster House, as seen in the 1898 photo) has served many notable patrons, including Daniel Webster, John F. Kennedy, and other members of the Kennedy family.

Faneuil Hall, Boston

Faneuil Hall in Boston, as it appeared between 1890 and 1899. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2011:

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The building was completed in 1742 as a meeting hall and marketplace, and was largely reconstructed following a fire in 1762 that gutted the building.  It is well known as having been a place where patriots such as Samuel Adams and James Otis gave speeches concerning independence in the years leading up to the American Revolution.

Old North Church, Boston

The view of Old North Church, looking down Hull Street, sometime in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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About decade later, around 1909. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Old North Church in 2011:

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From 1909 to 2011, not a whole lot has changed here – aside from the addition of parked cars in the 2011 photo, the only differences for the most part are minor cosmetic changes.  However, from 1898 to 1909, the scene looks very different – most of Hull Street was still dominated by small wood-framed buildings, some of which dated back to the mid 18th century.  The closest wood building on the right-hand side of the street is the Galloupe House, which purportedly was used as General Thomas Gage’s headquarters during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The centerpiece of all three of the photos, however, is Old North Church, which looks almost unchanged.  In fact, though, the entire spire above the brick section is fairly new.  Although the church was built in 1723, making it the oldest church building in Boston, the spire was destroyed in a storm in 1804.  It was replaced with the one seen in the 1909 photo, which was destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954.  Despite that, the church still looks very much as it did on the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five.

King’s Chapel, Boston

King’s Chapel in Boston, as seen between 1900 and 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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King’s Chapel in March 2013:

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Not much about the church itself has changed, although most of its surroundings have.  The King’s Chapel Burying Ground is still to the left, and the top of the old Boston City Hall is visible just above the roof of the church.  The church was built on the site of a previous, wooden church, which had been built in 1688.  When King’s Chapel was built in the early 1750s, it was literally built around it, and when it was completed, the 1688 church was dismantled and removed through the windows.

Old State House, Boston

The view of the 1713 Old State House in Boston, as it appeared around 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The building in 1875, decorated to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The Old State House around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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Around 1906, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The Old State House in 2013:

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Today, the Old State House is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers, although the building to the left has survived to this day.  The building was the capitol of the colony of Massachusetts, and later the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the Revolution until 1798, when it was replaced by the current State House.  It was used as Boston’s city hall from 1830 to 1841, and was preserved and restored in 1881.  Both before and after its use as a city hall, it was used for commercial offices and shops, as seen in the 1860 photo.

Aside from the Old State House, almost everything else has changed in the past 150+ years; over time, nearly all of the buildings in the historic photos have been demolished to create the Financial District in the heart of Downtown Boston that we know today.

One interesting quirk about the building that appears in the last two photos is the doorway on the right hand side next to the corner.  When the State Street subway station was built in 1904, the entrance was built right into the basement of the Old State House.