Emerson Wight Playground, Springfield, Mass (1)

The Emerson Wight Playground in Springfield, Mass, June 27, 1916. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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The park in 2014:

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It’s kind of eerie – in 98 years, almost nothing has changed about this scene. The baseball field is still in the same spot, along with all five of the houses in the distance, and (I believe) even a couple of the trees that are small saplings in front of the fence in the 1916 photo.  The only difference is the young boys, who are almost certainly all dead by now. The photo was taken by Lewis W. Hine as part of his documentation for the National Child Labor Relations Committee, and likely many, if not all, of these boys were working full time in a factory or other industry in Springfield.

Birthplace of Basketball, Springfield, Mass (2)

The interior of the gymnasium at the School For Christian Workers in Springfield, Mass, around 1887. Photo courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections.

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The approximate area in 2014:

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These two photos don’t line up perfectly – I don’t know exactly what direction the 1887 photo was oriented, but the 2014 photo shows approximately what the scene now looks like.  Regardless, the 1887 photo is of significance, as it shows the gymnasium where, around four years later, the first basketball game was played. Originally developed as a way for athletes to stay in shape during the winter, it quickly became a popular sport around the world. And today, on the spot where 19th century athletes stayed in shape throughout the winter, modern Springfielders now go there to get Big Macs, year round.

Birthplace of Basketball, Springfield, Mass (1)

The School for Christian Workers Building, located at the corner of State Street and Sherman Street in Springfield, Mass, in 1886. Photo courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections.

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The scene in 2014:

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Built in 1886 as the home of the School for Christian Workers, it also became home to the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in 1890.  Although both organizations moved out by 1897, it was during this time period that James Naismith invented the game of basketball in the building’s gymnasium. The building was later expanded to the east (right-hand side of the photo), and was demolished in 1965. However, it was not demolished to build the McDonald’s in the present-day photo; the site was used was a parking lot for about 30 years before McDonald’s was built in 1995.

Lefty Grove at Fenway Park, Boston

Lefty Grove warming up at Fenway Park in 1937. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The scene in 2006:

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In an earlier post, I looked at the present-day location of a photo of a Red Sox pitching legend, Cy Young.  Less than 30 years later, the Red Sox would have another stadium and a new ace pitcher, Lefty Grove.  Although he spent the majority of his career with the A’s, Grove remains the only pitcher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Red Sox cap.

Today, Fenway Park hasn’t changed a great deal, although it now has lights, electronic scoreboards, and bullpens beyond the outfield fence.  The Green Monster now has seats atop it, and is no longer adorned with any racist ads.

Fenway Park, Boston (4)

The exterior of Fenway Park in 1914. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.

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The same view in 2006:

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This is probably the only part of Fenway Park that is virtually unchanged since it opened nearly 102 years ago.  Several fires, a massive reconstruction in 1934, and a number of smaller changes along the way have left very little remaining from the original park.  However, the Yawkey Way facade (called Jersey Street in 1914) hasn’t changed much, aside from the addition of various championship banners that the team has won since they first made Fenway their home.

Cy Young at Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston

Cy Young, warming up at Boston’s Huntington Avenue Grounds in 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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Finding the precise location of this photo is tricky, since nothing in the 1908 photo still exists.  The top photo was taken of Cy Young, the winningest pitcher in baseball history, during his last year with the Red Sox.  At the time, the Sox played a few blocks south of what would become Fenway Park, at the Huntington Avenue Grounds.

The site of the field is today part of the Northeastern University campus, and in this courtyard is a tribute to Cy Young and the old baseball field.  In the foreground is a granite home plate marker, and 60 feet away in the distance is a statue of Cy Young.  The Cy Young statue is on the approximate location of the pitcher’s mound (which can be seen behind and to the left of Cy Young in the 1908 photo), but home plate would have actually been further to the right of where the 2014 photo was taken (which is now a building).

Because of that, it is likely that the 2014 photo was taken from approximately the same location, looking in roughly the same direction, as the 1908 photo, although the lack of any landmarks makes it difficult to be exact.