Peace Jubilee Coliseum, 1869.
You can't talk about post-Civil War Boston and not discuss the Peace Jubilee - so I will. The Peace Jubilee was organized by famed bandleader Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, an Irish immigrant who was named 'the father of the American band' by the younger John Philip Sousa. After coming to Boston from Ireland, Gilmore played cornet in and lead some of the city's leading bands. During the Civil War, he enlisted as a musician, and while stationed in New Orleans was named bandmaster. During this time, he wrote When Johnny Comes Marching Home, which quickly became a classic.
Gilmore returned to Boston after the war, and in 1869 organized the first Peace Jubilee to raise money for the widows and orphans of the war. The Jubilee Coliseum was built to hold a stunning 30,000 audience members, an orchestra of 1,000, and a chorus of 10,000 singers. Famously, during Verdi's Il Trovatore, 100 Boston Firemen were engaged to strike anvils.
A second Peace Jubilee was organized soon after, this time to celebrate the end of the Franco-Prussian war. This time, the orchestra and chorus was doubled for the 18 day festival. Bands from France, England and Prussia performed, and Johann Strauss, the famous Waltz King attended and played a new waltz written for the event.
Peace Jubilee Coliseum location, 1872 (BPL).
The coliseum was built on new land in the Back Bay while it was still being filled and streets laid out. The map above shows the structure right at where the Boston and Albany and Boston and Providence railroad lines met in what had once been the shallow bay. Today, the site is just south of the Back Bay railroad station. The photograph below, taken from an 1872 stereograph, shows the Boston and Providence line running parallel to the building.
A new building was to be built for the second Jubilee, but it burned down during construction, so the first Coliseum was rebuilt.
Coliseum and Boston and Providence railroad 1872 (BPL).
Over the back right of the building, we can see a church steeple - probably one of two churches on the first two blocks of Newbury street. Over the front left roof, two tall buildings stand in the far background. These were probably located on Beacon street, which as the Mill Dam road had been built upon before the rest of the Back Bay was filled.
Interior, 1872 (BPL).
The photograph above is valuable in showing us what the Back Bay looked like during the time it was being filled. Note the raised roads crossing a lower ground level. This is how the entire Back Bay was filled. In order to keep costs down, the contracts that were signed to bring fill from Needham and elsewhere to fill the bay stipulated that the space between the future streets could be left filled lower than the streets themselves. This was because the construction of houses would require foundations be dug, so the house lots were filled to just above high water level, and foundations were build without digging. This saved the cost of a massive amount of gravel fill, and time as well. As houses were built, soil was brought in to fill around them as necessary.
The question is, where was this photograph taken from? I can't see any railroad tracks. In the right background, you can see water, and then hills. In the left background, there are buildings. I'll be damned if I can figure out where the camera was located.