Franklin Street, Boston (3)

Looking west on Franklin Street from Devonshire Street in Boston, sometime in the late 1850s. Image courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

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Franklin Street in 2015:

This view of Franklin Street shows the former Tontine Crescent section of the street from the opposite direction of the photos in these posts here and here. When this area was developed by architect Charles Bulfinch in the 1790s, it was an upscale residential neighborhood. Just a few years before the first photo was taken, this curve was lined with elegant townhouses, but by the late 1850s nothing remained of Bulfinch’s design except for a few trees in the middle of the street and the curve of the street itself.

The new commercial buildings in the first photo represented Boston’s growth and development as a prominent city, but they would turn out to be short-lived. Just over a decade later, the entire area was destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. They were rebuilt within the next year or so with similar-looking buildings, and many are still standing today. The 2015 photo shows a number of these 1870s buildings, although the background is dominated by Boston’s newest skyscraper, the Millennium Tower, which was under construction in the first photo and is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2016.

Franklin Street, Boston (2)

Looking down Franklin Street toward Arch Street from Hawley Street in Boston, around 1870. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.


Franklin Street in 2014:


Taken near the ones in this post, the first photo shows Franklin Street after the 1790s row-houses were demolished to make room for commercial development.  When the street was originally laid out, it included a landscaped terrace with a number of trees in the center of the road.  However, after the redevelopment, only a single tree remained, which is seen in the distance of the 1870 photo.  Within a couple years, however, the entire area would be destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, and the area was rebuilt again, with many of those buildings surviving today.

Franklin Street, Boston (1)

Looking down Franklin Street toward Arch Street from Hawley Street in Boston in 1858. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.


The same view down Franklin Street, between 1859 and 1872. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.


Franklin Street in 2014:


Franklin Street in Boston was originally laid out in the 1790s by noted architect Charles Bulfinch, and included row-houses on both sides of a sweeping curve, as seen in the first photo. Known as the Tontine Crescent, this was an upscale neighborhood in the first half of the 19th century, but by the 1850s the city was expanding commercially. The row-houses were demolished, and replaced with the commercial buildings in the second photo. These didn’t last too long, though – they were destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Today, it is still a major commercial center, part of the Downtown Crossing shopping district, but many of the buildings that are still standing along Franklin Street were the ones constructed in 1873 in the immediate aftermath of the fire. In addition, the street still retains its distinctive curve that was laid out over 200 years ago.