Corner of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road, Longmeadow, Massachusetts (2)

A wintry scene looking southeast toward the intersection of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road in Longmeadow, around 1902-1909. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Paesiello Emerson Collection.

The scene in 2024:

These two photos show the same scene as the ones in the previous post, except these photos here were taken in the winter rather than in the summer. And, rather than being taken from ground level, they are taken from the southeastern bedroom on the second floor of the Josiah Cooley House. The photographer who took the top photo, Paesiello Emerson, lived in this house in the early 20th century with his half siblings Annie and Henry, and this is one of the many photos that he took of Longmeadow during this period.

The top photo is undated, but as explained in the previous post it must have been taken in 1909 or earlier, due to the presence of the house on the far right side of the photo. This house was demolished around 1909, when Springfield-based heating and plumbing contractor George R. Estabrook purchased the property and built a new house on the site. Likewise, the house on the left, which stood at the corner of Bliss Street, was demolished around the late 1920s in order to build St. Mary’s Church.

Today, both the church and the former Estabrook house are still standing, and the latter now serves as the rectory. Although these were built after the top photo was taken, the overall scene is still recognizable from that photo, especially when the landscape is covered with freshly-fallen snow. And, there is at least one noticeable surviving feature from the top photo—the maple tree in the foreground. It is now probably around 150 years old, and it still stands in the front yard of the Josiah Cooley House.

Corner of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road, Longmeadow, Massachusetts

The view looking southeast toward the intersection of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road, sometime around 1902-1909. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Paesiello Emerson Collection.

The scene in 2023:

These two photos were taken from the front yard of the Josiah Cooley House, looking southeast across Longmeadow Street. The top photo was taken by amateur photographer Paesiello Emerson, who lived in the Cooley House, and it is one of the many images that he captured of early 20th century Longmeadow.

The top photo shows a trolley traveling northbound on Longmeadow Street. At the time, trolley tracks ran the length of the street from the Connecticut state line in the south, to the Springfield border on the north. The tracks were operated by the Springfield Street Railway, and this provided direct service from Longmeadow to Springfield. Passengers could also take the trolleys south to Hartford, so this section of track in Longmeadow provided an important link in the interurban trolley system between these two major cities.

The trolley was a sign of changing times here in Longmeadow. Throughout the 19th century, the town had remained a small agricultural community, with very little development aside for the houses that lined either side of Longmeadow Street. However, the arrival of the trolley line meant that people could now live in Longmeadow and easily commute to Springfield, so by the early 20th century many of the old farms were being subdivided into residential streets.

On the other side of Longmeadow Street in the top photo, several old houses are visible through the trees. It’s hard to say whether this was a deliberate juxtaposition on Paesiello Emerson’s part, to show the modern trolley with a backdrop of old farmhouses, but the photo certainly has that effect. These two houses, which once stood on the east side of Longmeadow Street just south of Bliss Road, were likely built at some point in the 18th or early 19th centuries, but both would disappear within the first few decades of the 20th century.

The house further to the right, just beyond the trolley, was the first to go. Its presence in the photo helps to establish the date that it was taken, because the house was demolished by about 1909, when Springfield-based heating and plumbing contractor George R. Estabrook purchased the property and built a new brick house on the site. Further to the left, the house at the corner of Bliss Street was demolished around the late 1920s, in order to build St. Mary’s Church.

Aside from new buildings across the street, this scene would undergo more changes in the years after the top photo was taken. As automobiles became more common in the early 20th century, Longmeadow Street became part of the main north-south route through the Connecticut River Valley. This was made official with the designation of New England Route 2 in 1922, which was later renumbered as U.S. Route 5 with the establishment of the United States Numbered Highway System in 1926. Longmeadow Street was a part of this route, resulting in heavy automobile traffic through the center of a town that, a few decades prior, had been a quiet village on the outskirts of Springfield. This led to concerns about speeding, and after a string of traffic fatalities in 1927 the town decided to install traffic lights at five key intersections, including one here at the corner of Emerson Road.

Today, almost nothing survives from the top photo, but this scene has still managed to retain much of its original scale, even if the buildings themselves are different. St. Mary’s Church still stands at the corner nearly a century after it was built, and next to it is the house that George Estabrook built around 1909. This house was sold to the church in the 1930s, and it now serves as the rectory. However, perhaps the only identifiable thing that survives from the top photo is the maple tree in the foreground on the right side of both photos. It is probably around 150 years old now, and it still stands here in the front yard of the Josiah Cooley House.

Springfield Street Railway Car House, Springfield, Massachusetts (2)

The car house of the Springfield Street Railway, seen from the corner of Main and Bond Streets in Springfield probably in 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2023:

As explained in more detail in the previous post, these two photos show one of the trolley barns that was used by the Springfield Street Railway. The top photo was probably taken right around the same time as the one in the previous post, since both photos show the same shadows in the same positions on the front of the building.

The top photo was taken shortly after the Springfield Street Railway system was electrified in the early 1890s. Prior to this time, the cars rode on rails in the streets but were pulled by horses. The switch to electric trolleys meant that the railway no longer had the expense of keeping several hundred horses, but instead the company needed facilities to store, maintain, and repair trolleys.

The building in the top photo was built sometime around the late 1880s or early 1890s, and it stood on the east side of Main Street between Carew and Bond Streets. The railway also had facilities around the corner on Bond Street and a little to the north of here on Hooker Street, both of which had much larger storage capacities than this one here on Main Street. However, during the mid-1890s this was the only one with pits beneath the tracks, meaning that every car in the system had to be rotated through here on a nightly basis for inspections.

Over time, the railway added new trolley barns, including one on the north side of Carew Street in 1897, along with a new one at Hooker Street in 1916. The old building here on the south side of Carew Street appears to have remained in use into the 20th century, but by the 1930s the trolley lines were steadily being replaced by buses, with the last trolley service ending in 1940.

The 1897 trolley barn on the north side of Carew Street is still standing, and the corner of the building is visible on the far left side of the second photo. However, the earlier trolley barn that is shown in the first photo is long gone. After the demise of the trolleys it was converted into commercial and retail use, and it stood here until December 1971, when it was destroyed by a fire. Its former location is now a gas station, as shown in the second photo.

North Main Street from Pleasant Street, Concord, New Hampshire

Looking north on North Main Street from the corner of Pleasant Street in Concord, New Hampshire, around 1874-1885. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The scene in 2022:

As these two photos show, much of downtown Concord has retained its historic architecture, with a number of buildings here that date back to the mid-19th century. Some have been altered over the years, but overall most of the buildings from the first photo are still standing here around 150 years later.

Starting in the foreground on the right side of the street is Moore’s Block at 4-12 North Main Street. This was built sometime around 1860, although over the years it has been altered almost beyond recognition. The main façade has been almost completely rebuilt, and today the only clue to its original appearance in this scene is the central window on the second floor, which is still topped by its granite lintel.

Beyond this building is the three-story Currier Block, which was also probably built in the 1860s, and the four-story Statesman Building, which was built around 1866-1867. The latter was originally the offices of the New Hampshire Statesman newspaper. Both buildings are still standing, and are still easily recognizable from their 19th century appearance.

On the far side of the Statesman Building is the corner of Depot Street, and then on the on the other side of the street was Bailey’s Block, which was built in 1874. Later known as Smith’s Block, it stood here until it was destroyed by a fire in 1960, and it was replaced by a one-story commercial building that now stands on the site.

Further in the distance in the first photo, with the tall windows on the upper floors, was Phenix Hall. This was an important city landmark in the second half of the 19th century, and its large auditorium served as a venue for many political gatherings, speeches, and other events. Perhaps the most notable visitor here was Abraham Lincoln, who delivered a speech here on March 1, 1860, several days after his famous Cooper Union speech in New York City. At the time, Lincoln was still a relatively obscure midwestern politician, but his speaking tour through the northeast helped to establish him as a major contender for the 1860 election.

The original Phenix Hall was destroyed by a fire in 1893, but true to its name it was soon rebuilt as the New Phenix Hall. Like its predecessor, it continued to be used as an event venue for many years, with prominent guests such as Theodore Roosevelt, who spoke here during his 1912 presidential campaign. The building was damaged by yet another fire in 1956, and was underutilized for many years during the second half of the 20th century. However, it is still standing, and is the subject of an ongoing restoration project.

On the other side of Phenix Hall, in the distant center of the first photo, is the three-story Phenix Hotel, which was built in 1857. It is difficult to tell now, but there are portions of this building that are still standing. As shown in the first photo, it originally had three stories and a flat roof, but it was later altered with the addition of a fourth story that was topped by a Mansard roof. This roof was eventually removed in 1947, and then seven years later all of the upper floors were removed, leaving only the one-story structure that stands today.

Further in the distance, the buildings become less discernable from this vantage point. However, there are a number of 19th century buildings that still stand today, including perhaps most notably the Eagle Hotel, which had been a favorite for New Hampshire politicians for many years.

Overall, the street itself could hardly be any different, with the horse-drawn carts on a rutted dirt road giving way to the cars that now pass through here on US Routes 3 and 202. However, most of the buildings from the first photo are still standing in some form or another, and the scene is still easily recognizable from the first photo. Because of this level of preservation, this section of North Main Street is now part of the Downtown Concord Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Bradley Street, New London, Connecticut

The view looking north on Bradley Street from the corner of State Street in New London, around 1868. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The scene in 2021:

During the 1800s, New London was an important seaport, in particular because of its role in the whaling industry. At one point, it was second only to New Bedford in terms of number of whaling ships, which brought significant prosperity to the city. However, like other major ports, New London also had its share of crime, poverty, and vice, and perhaps no street in the city better exemplified this than Bradley Street, which is shown in the first photo around 1868.

At the time, Bradley Street began here at State Street, and it ran northward parallel to Main Street for three blocks, before ending at Federal Street. The northern end of the street was predominantly residential, but the southern end, shown here in this scene, had an assortment of commercial buildings, mostly older wood-frame structures.

There are a few signs that are visible in the first photo, advertising for businesses such as a harness maker at the corner of State Street and a bakery further down Bradley Street. However, the street was better known for its less reputable establishments, particularly its saloons and brothels. As early as the 1840s, women were convicted for running “houses of ill fame” here on Bradley Street, and the street would remain the epicenter of the city’s red light district into the early 20th century. Even Eugene O’Neill, the prominent playwright, would patronize these brothels as a young man while spending summers with his family in New London, and he made reference to one of the madams, “Mamie Burns,” in his famous play Long Day’s Journey into Night.

By the turn of the 20th century, when O’Neill would have made his visits to Bradley Street, the street was predominantly the home of working class immigrants, particularly Polish and Jewish families. However, the relatively short street also had up to 13 saloons and four brothels in operation by 1910, as outlined by Dr. Matthew Berger in a 2021 blog post.

In an effort to overcome the street’s seedy reputation, it was eventually rebranded as North Bank Street around 1921. Then, around the 1960s it became Atlantic Street, and it was about this same time that all of the older buildings on the street were demolished as part of an urban renewal project. The street was also truncated so that it now ends after just one block, rather than continuing all the way to Federal Street. The result is a streetscape that looks more or less like every other urban renewal project of the 1960s, with a parking garage on one side and a vaguely brutalist office building on the other side.

However, there is one historic building that stands in the present-day scene. On the far right side in the foreground is the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse. It was built in 1773, and the famous Revolutionary War hero taught here from 1774 to 1775. This is not its original location, though. It has been moved six times over the past 250 years, most recently in 2009 when it was brought to its current location at the corner of what had once been Bradley Street.

Louisburg Square, Boston

Louisburg Square on Beacon Hill in Boston, on July 5, 1930. Image courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leon Abdalian Collection.

The scene in 2021:


Beacon Hill is one of the best-preserved neighborhoods in Boston, and it generally consists of narrow streets lined with brick rowhouses. However, the one exception to these narrow streets is here at Louisburg Square, a long, narrow park that extends from Mount Vernon Street to Pinckney Street. The square was laid out as part of development of Beacon Hill during the 1820s, and the houses around it were constructed in the 1830s and 1840s. Like most of the other houses in the neighborhood, they are generally three or four stories tall, and many have bow fronts, including a row of eight bow-fronted houses on the left side of the scene.

As for the park itself, it was one of a number of small urban parks that were laid out in Boston during this period. Some have been lost over time, including the Tontine Crescent on Franklin Street and Pemberton Square just to the east of Beacon Hill, but Louisburg Square has remained largely unchanged since the mid-19th century. The park is privately owned and maintained by the residents of the square, and in 1846 they added the cast iron fence around the perimeter of the park, followed by statues of Aristides the Just and Christopher Columbus in 1850. The square also briefly had a fountain, which was installed in 1850 but removed in 1856.

Over the years, Louisburg Square has had a number of prominent residents, particularly in the literary world. The house at 10 Louisburg Square—the second bow-fronted house from the left in this scene—was the final home of Louisa May Alcott and her father Bronson Alcott. They lived here for several years in the 1880s, until their deaths two days apart in March 1888. Also in the 1880s, novelist William Dean Howells lived at Louisburg Square, first at number 16 in 1882, and then at number 4 from 1883 to 1884. One of the houses near the end of the street, at 20 Louisburg Square, was the home of author and banker Samuel Gray Ward, who was also one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1852, prominent Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind married her husband, Otto Goldschmidt, in this house. Much more recently, prominent Louisburg Square residents include former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry, who lives in the house on the right side at the far end of the street.

By the time the first photo was taken in 1930, the houses on Louisburg Square were already nearly a century old, yet not much had changed here in the intervening years, aside from the addition of automobiles on the streets around the square. Today, nearly a hundred more years have gone by, and still Louisburg Square has remained well-preserved. It is the centerpiece of the Beacon Hill neighborhood, and all of the houses in this scene are now part of the Beacon Hill Historic District, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark district in 1962.