Hotel Boylston, Boston

The Hotel Boylston, at the southeast corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets in Boston, sometime in the 1870s.  Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The scene today:

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Like the Hotel Pelham right across Tremont Street, the Hotel Boylston was built as a residential building, with the term “hotel” at the time referring to what we would today call an apartment building.  It was at a prominent location, at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets, at the southeast corner of Boston Common.  However, it was demolished in the 1890s and replaced with the Hotel Touraine building, which still stands today.

Hotel Pelham, Boston

Facing the southwest corner of Boylston and Tremont in Boston around 1859, toward the newly-constructed Hotel Pelham.  Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The same scene 2014:

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Constructed in 1857, the Hotel Pelham was possibly the first apartment building of its type in the United States.  Although named a hotel, the term in the mid 19th century was commonly used to refer to what today we would call an apartment building – they catered more toward long-term residents than temporary visitors.

The date on the first photo is probably 1859, but some sources date it to 1869.  In either case, 1869 is the latest possible date for the photo, because in that year Tremont Street (the street that the photos are facing down) was widened.  Rather than demolishing and rebuilding, the owners moved the 5,000 ton building 14 feet to the west (right), a move that took three months to complete.  Following the move, the hotel remained in business for nearly 50 more years, before being demolished in 1916 and replaced with the present-day office building.

Arlington Street Church, Boston

Arlington Street Church in Boston, around 1862.  Photo taken by J.J. Hawes, courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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The church around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The church in 2014:

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For the first two centuries of Boston’s history, this location was right on the waterfront. However, as the city grew in population, they needed more land, so by the 1850s, the city started filling in the Back Bay, adding new real estate along the Charles River from the Public Garden (seen in the lower right of the 1904 photo) to the Kenmore Square area.  The Arlington Street Church, completed in 1861, was one of the first buildings to be constructed on the newly-created land.  The first photo shows the neighborhood just as it began to be developed; plenty of empty land beyond the church is visible in the space between it and the apartment building to the right.  Today, it remains an active church, and aside from no longer having ivy on its walls, it looks very much the same as it did 110 years ago.

Boylston Street, Boston

Looking west on Boylston Street toward Arlington Street, between 1910 and 1914. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Boylston Street in 2014:

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The buildings on the left are a little taller, but otherwise not a great deal has changed in this scene.  The Boston Public Garden to the right is still there, and Arlington Street Church, although hidden by the trees in 2014, is still there.  Notice, however, the trolleys in the background.  At the time, trolleys running on the present-day Green Line would travel along Boylston until Arlington, and then descend into the subway in the Public Garden.  From here, they would travel under Boylston and Tremont Streets, and eventually emerge from the subway near North Station.  This was the first subway tunnel in North America, and was opened in 1897.  However, the presence of the trolleys gives an upper limit to the date of this photo; in 1914, the subway tunnel under Boylston Street was extended to Kenmore Square.  A new incline was built here, in the center of Boylston Street, to serve what is now the “E” Branch of the Green Line; this branch was not put underground until 1941, at which point the Public Garden incline was permanently closed.

Trinity Church, Boston

Trinity Church in Boston, in 1920. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The church in 2013:

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Located at Copley Square in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, Trinity Church was built between 1872 and 1877, to replace the parish’s previous church, which had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872.  The church was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, and is generally regarded as his magnum opus.

The surrounding of the church have changed, even though the building itself has remained essentially the same.  Originally, Huntington Avenue (foreground in the 1920 photo) cut diagonally in front of the church; this was changed in 1966, and the former roadway is now part of a park in front of the church.  Behind the church is the Berkeley Building, also known as the Old John Hancock Building, and not to be confused with the John Hancock Tower, which is located immediately to the right of Trinity Church, just out of the picture.

New Old South Church, Boston

New Old South Church at Copley Square, between 1890 and 1899. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2010:

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For the most part, this view hasn’t changed.  The Boston Public Library on the left is still there, as is the brick building behind the church.  The only real difference is the tower, which had to be taken down in 1931.  Like the rest of the Back Bay, the church sits on filled-in marshland, so the weight was supported by wooden piles that were driven into the soil.  However, the tower was too heavy for the piles, and as the ground settled it began to lean about three feet.  It was rebuilt in 1940 on stronger steel piles, and the new tower has stood substantially longer than the original one did.