Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lost Train Stations: Boston and Lowell

Boston and Lowell Railroad station 1852 (BPL).

First Boston and Lowell Railroad station, 1852, BPL (click for larger image).

(Edited to add information, 1/10/13)

The first Boston and Lowell depot sat alone on the waterfront, well back from Causeway street, seen here at the lower right corner of the map. The depot is at the top center of the map above. The footprint of the depot in the map doesn't jibe with the print of the building above, which appears to be L-shaped, but there you go.

The company was chartered in 1830, but the track was not finished until 1835. It followed the general path of the Middlesex canal that had preceded it, and was used to haul the same freight between Boston and the Lowell mills. The first runs stopped only at Lowell and Boston; it took petitions from people living along the route to get the company to build stations along the way.

New Boston and Lowell station, Causeway street (BPL).

New Boston and Lowell station, opposite view (BPL).

The two photographs above show the second station, which sat on Causeway street with the Eastern and Fitchburg line depots. The old depot was kept and used for freight. All on the lines had both passenger and freight depots, though I've been focusing on the passenger facilities in this series. I don't have a date for these photographs, but the Second Empire style of the roofing suggests the early 1870s. The map below shows the new depot in place in 1883.

Boston and Lowell station, Causeway street, 1883. Note in the upper left, the old terminal is now a freight depot. During the 1880s, the Boston and Lowell would be leased by the Boston and Maine, and cease to be an independent company.

Resource: Boston's Depots and Terminals, Richard C. Barrett.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blinstrub's Village

For Bostonians of a certain age - like me - Blinstrub's was a name like Jordan Marsh or Anthony's Pier 4. Even if you never went there, you knew the name, and you knew that it was a big deal. Would today's newcomers to the city guess that Boston's leading nightclub through the post-World War II era was located in South Boston.

Stanley Blinstrub was the son of a Lithuanian immigrant. The family moved from Staten Island to Brighton when Stanley was three. After school and working various jobs, Stanley opened a restaurant on the corner of Broadway and D street in South Boston. In 1934, the restaurant would be reopened as a nightclub. In 1952, the decision was made to book big name acts.

While baby boomers (like me) and the following generations may think of the 1950s as the time of Elvis and the birth of rock and roll, the stars of the day, who filled seats at Blinstrubs were the pop singers and show business staples of the day like Patti Page, Wayne Newton, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. The club continued packing in crowds into the 1960s. Diana Ross suffered a notorious on-stage meltdown when performing with the Supremes at Blinstrub's.

A fire in February of 1968 destroyed the building, ending 35 years of success on the site. Blinstrub's Old Colony restaurant survived for years in Dorchester, a reminder of a time when the name Blinstrub's was the leader in Boston entertainment.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lost Train Stations: Boston & New York Central

Boston and New York Central line entering Boston through the harbor, 1866.

The Boston and New York Central line is shown coming north through Dorchester, across the South Bay and South Boston, and running on a curved trestle to the foot of Summer street, 1866 (BPL).

The Boston and New York Central railroad was formed in 1853 by a merger of three existing lines. This has been a little more difficult railroad to research than most. If I understand correctly, it connected to New York through Connecticut. I'm fairly sure that this track became today's Fairmont line, which turns west through Mattapan and runs along the Neponset river to Readville. I wonder what it was like riding that trestle through the harbor during a Nor'easter. Did they hold up the train in South Boston?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Carney Hospital

Carney Hospital, Telegraph Hill, South Boston, 1899.

Andrew Carney, born 1794, was a self-made Irish immigrant, who made his business in the clothing trade. In 1863, he bought an estate to provide for the first Catholic hospital in New England, and among it's first patients were Civil War soldiers. In 1953, the institution moved to the southern end of Dorchester avenue in Dorchester.