Chauncy Street, Boston (2)

Looking northeast along Chauncy Street with Bedford Street in the foreground, in 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

300_1860-2Bbpl

Chauncy Street in 2014:

300_2014

These photos were taken from almost the same spot as the ones in this post, just facing the opposite direction on Chauncy Street. The church in the distance is the old First Church in Boston building, which was built in 1808 and was the home to Boston’s oldest church congregation until 1867, when they moved to the Back Bay. At the time of the 1860 photo, this was an upscale residential neighborhood, although it was becoming increasingly commercial by the 1860s.   Just a few years later, much of the area was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872. In the distance is the Macy’s building at Downtown Crossing, with Summer Street, the epicenter of the 1872 fire, beyond it in the distance.

Chauncy Street, Boston (1)

Looking southwest on Chauncy Street in Boston, toward modern-day Avenue de Lafayette from Bedford Street, taken around 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

299_1860-2Bbpl

Chauncy Street in 2014:

299_2014

Another work of noted photographer Josiah Johnson Hawes, the first photo shows a very different Chauncy Street than the present-day view. The church at the corner is the Rowe Street Baptist Church, which was built in 1847. The church, along with all of the other buildings in the photo, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1872, which is one of the reasons why none of the building in the 1860 scene survive to this day.

Harrison & Essex Streets, Boston

The corner of Harrison Avenue and Essex Street in Boston, in 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

298_1860-2Bbpl

The scene in 2014:

298_2014

Located in present-day Chinatown, this scene has completely changed in the past 150 years, with none of the 1860 buildings surviving today. Even the streets have changed somewhat, with Harrison Avenue (the street in the lower left foreground) being extended across Essex Street, through where the house on the right-hand side of the 1860 photo once stood.  That house was home of Wendell Phillips, a noted 19th century abolitionist, lawyer, and candidate for governor of Massachusetts.

Incidentally, the first photo was taken by Josiah Johnson Hawes, who worked with Albert Sands Southworth in the famous Southworth & Hawes photographic company.  Together, they were among the early pioneers of quality photography, and some of Hawes’s photographs, including the one above, give a rare glimpse of Boston on the eve of the Civil War.

Great Boston Fire (7)

A view of Trinity Church on Summer Street in Boston, taken in 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

295_1860-2Bbpl

A photo from a similar angle, taken in the aftermath of the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

295_1872-2Bbpl

The scene in 2014:

295_2014

Taken from almost the same location as the photos in this post, and from the opposite direction of the ones here, these photos illustrate not only the damage after the Great Boston Fire, but also what the scene looked like before the fire.  As mentioned previously, the church was built in 1829, where Boston’s Downtown Crossing shopping district is located today.  The area was heavily damaged in the fire, and the church’s congregation relocated to the present-day Trinity Church at Copley Square later in the 1870s.  Today, nothing remains from the first two photos, and even the historic former Filene’s building in the center of the photo is a shell of its former self – literally.  The interior of the building was completely demolished, leaving only the facade as seen in the photo.  As evidenced by the construction work in the photo, the renovation work is ongoing as of July 2014.

Arlington Street Church, Boston

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

ArlingtonStChurch_ca1862_byJJHawes_MFABoston

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

264_1904c-loc

The church in 2014:

264_2014

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.