Boston landmarks & crooked streets disappearing (1903)

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Boston improvements: Historic landmarks and crooked streets disappearing

Boston, June 20 [1903] – Within three years, the crooks and turnings and devious wanderings of Boston’s most honored highways and byways will be nothing more than a memory of the past, and may of her ancient landmarks will be wiped out or so altered as to be unrecognizable to the oldest inhabitant.

Slowly and surely, the ancient thoroughfares are being widened, straightened and bent into ruler-like lines of crosscut New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Boston is undergoing a transformation below and aloft that would cause Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Warren and Paul Revere to rub their eyes and stare in amazement. Million dollar buildings by the dozen, elevated roads, tunnels and streetcar lines beneath the streets and under the harbor, swamps and mud flats filled in for piers and excavated for docks that accommodate giant steamers — these are the things they would see.

Along State Street, beneath the spot where the Boston Massacre occurred, and beneath the historic old State House, a tunnel is eating its way from under the harbor to Scollay Square to connect with the present subway by means of flights of stairs and elevators, and thence outside to the busy world.

The old State House itself is to be transformed into a tunnel station connecting with a subway line also. The remodeled building will soon be crowded with people hurrying back and forth, intent on business, with never a thought of its old associations. Little do they think, as they hurry past where tunnel workmen are digging seventy feet beneath, of what has happened in that quaint old edifice.

On this site, the first State House was built in 1657. Destroyed by fire in 1711, it was rebuilt in 1712, and rebuilt again in 1747 when destroyed a second time. The building has been in turn Town House, Courthouse, Province House, State House, and City Hall. On the first floor in the early days was the merchants’ walk, or exchange.

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During the Stamp Act excitement the stamped clearances were burned in front of its doors. The British troops were quartered within the building in 1768, and the Boston Massacre occurred about fifty feet away on March 5, 1770. The next day, Samuel Adams stood in the council chamber and made his successful demand upon the royal representatives for the immediate removal of the British troops from Boston.

In this same room, Generals Clinton, Howe and Gage held a council of war just before the battle of Bunker Hill. In 1789, at the western end of the State House, Washington reviewed the great procession in his honor on the occasion of his last visit to Boston.

Here, also, in 1835, William Lloyd Garrison found refuge from a mob which had broken up an anti-slavery meeting, and threatened his life.


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