Springfield Skyline (2)

The South End of Springfield, seen from West Springfield between 1900 and 1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2014:

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Like the photos taken from the same spot but angled a little upstream, not much remains visible from the original photo.  Old First Church, the Hampden County Courthouse, and the Court Square Building are still there, but not much else is readily identifiable in both photographs.  The steeple that is visible toward the right-hand side of the first photo is St. Joseph’s Church, which was built in 1873 and demolished in 2008.  The building that has since taken its place is visible in the second photo – it is a gray-green rectangular building visible just above and to the left of the large brick structure that is on the waterfront on the right-hand side of the photo.

Several buildings that are visible in the 2013 photo did exist when the earlier one was taken, but they aren’t visible in it. Among those is the old castle-like National Guard Armory, which was built in 1895 and damaged in the 2011 tornado. At the time it was being used as the South End Community Center, but today it stands vacant, although part of MGM’s proposed casino includes preserving the distinctive facade of the building.
Along the waterfront, much has changed in the past 100 years.  Back in the early 20th century, the waterfront was dominated by boating clubs and factories.  According to a 1910 map, there were three boathouses along this stretch of riverfront, several of which can be seen in this photo. They were the Springfield Yacht Club, the Springfield Canoe Club, and the Springfield Boat Club. Presumably many of their members are among those who are sailing or rowing on the Connecticut River.  Sadly, this is not the case today – the construction of I-91 effectively blocked off downtown Springfield from the waterfront, and today a little-used bike path along the riverfront is the only significant recreational activity available on this part of the river.

Springfield Skyline (1)

Springfield, as it looked from across the river around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2010:

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It’s a good thing that Old First Church and the Hampden County Courthouse still exist – otherwise it would’ve been very difficult to pin down exactly what part of Springfield is seen in the early 20th century photo.  In addition, the old Court Square Building is barely visible in between those two buildings in photos.  There are some parts of Springfield that still look similar to how they were 100 years ago, but downtown isn’t one of them.  Along with the skyscrapers and modern hotels that now sit directly across the river, there is also the Memorial Bridge, which wouldn’t exist for another 10+ years from the first photo.  Instead, travelers would cross the river slightly upstream of the current bridge, on a terrifyingly rickety-looking covered bridge that I will probably cover in a future post.  The other big change in the past century was the elevated I-91 viaduct along the Connecticut River, which replaced the railroad as both the prominent feature along the river and also the way that most people traveled from Springfield to points north and south.

Samuel Chapin Statue, Springfield

The Samuel Chapin Statue at the Quadrangle, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same statue in 2012:

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Samuel Chapin, one of my ancestors, was an early settler in Springfield, one of several such founders memorialized in a statue in the city.  He served as the first deacon of the church, was on the first board of selectmen, and also served as a town magistrate.  In 1881, one of his descendants, businessman and Congressman Chester W. Chapin, commissioned noted sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens to create this statue.  It was finished in 1887, and was first situated at Stearns Park, but was moved to Merrick Park at the Quadrangle in 1899, shortly before the above photo was taken.  The statue, named The Puritan, became one of St. Gaudens’s most popular work, and it hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years, although some of the buildings around it have.  The house directly behind it in the 1905 photo (I believe it’s the parsonage for Christ Church Cathedral) is long gone, as is the old library, which isn’t visible in the photo, but which was located just to the photographer’s right.  Note, however, the arches in the distance on the far right of the 1905 photo – those are from the art museum, which still exists – the arches aren’t visible from the angle of the 2012 photo, but the building itself is barely visible above the hedges.

Robert E. Lee Monument, New Orleans

Robert E. Lee Monument, New Orleans, about 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same monument in 2009:

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In a bit of a departure from my usual northeast locations, I came across the c.1906 photo of the same statue that I photographed in 2009 while in New Orleans.  The subject, given that it’s the south, is Robert E. Lee, and the statue has been there since 1884.

North End, Boston

The view of the North End in Boston, from Boston Harbor, around 1930. Image courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The scene in 2021:

These two photos show the North End of Boston from across the harbor at Charlestown Navy Yard. Many of the buildings in the North End are still there today, but the Boston skyline behind it has been completely changed – the once prominent Custom House Tower now blends in with the rest of the skyscrapers in downtown, although Old North Church in the foreground still stands out among the low-rises in the North End.

View from Summit House, Mount Tom, Holyoke, Mass.

The view of Easthampton from the Summit House atop Mount Tom, between 1905 and 1915.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

The Summit House no longer exists, so I wasn’t able to perfectly re-create the early 20th century photo, but the 2019 photo shows the remains of the promenade that is in the foreground of the older photo.  President William McKinley once walked along it, but now all that remains is the concrete that once supported the wooden boardwalk and the rusty metal railings that tourists once admired the view from alongside.  The Summit House from the older photo was built in 1901, replacing the 1897 structure that had burned just three years later.  The 1901 building also burned, in 1929, and the third one was closed in 1938.  The site of the summit houses is now off-limits; it is the site of numerous radio and TV antennas for the Springfield area.