SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
6000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Social Shorpy

Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Daily e-mail updates:

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Harvard Underground: 1912

Harvard Underground: 1912

Cambridge, Massachusetts, circa 1912. "Entrance to subway, Harvard Square." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Plate Number 7525

According to the 1912 New England Automobile Register, Massachusetts license plate 7525 belonged to Arthur Fairbanks, 26 Elmwood St., Cambridge, for his 22 h.p. Buick, engine number 1030. I would guess that the man behind the wheel is Mr. Fairbanks.

Nearly all American cars except the Model T Ford had right-hand drive up to 1912; most switched for the 1913 model year. There were a few stragglers, notably Pierce-Arrow, which did not make the switch until the 1920s.

113 Brattle Street

Out of sight around the gentle curve of Brattle Street exists the grand old structure once known as New Preparatory School. Run by the family Benshimol, all Harvard graduates, and principled by the patriarch Ernest, it was touted as a pre-school for those fixed on getting into those ivy covered halls. The other thing the school was famous for was hockey. I was neither headed for Harvard, nor played hockey, which kept my GPA pretty low. I did graduate. I did wear the blue blazer with the three gold buttons, and sport the blue and gold school tie. I did go to college.

Ernie B. ran his classes with a hockey stick, a broadsword, a tipped foil, and a baseball bat. All used for effect, embarrassment, and pain as his students would stand on the great table to recite whatever he wanted as he slapped the table, poked the student and smacked the students butt if they failed to provide, all the while yelling (like a hockey coach) over and over what he expected, without giving away the answer.

The building is now occupied by a company that seems to hunt heads for the dark side. Harvard provides plenty of herd from which to pick.

Click n' Clack

Nary a sign (yet) of the Tappet Brothers!

The No. 1 bus circa 1912

The trolley on the right states "Harvard Square" on top then "Dudley Street transfer station" underneath. The name transfer station refers to the busy Dudley Square stop, which today services trains and buses and then referred to different trolley lines. Today this same (and extremely popular) route is serviced by the MBTA's route number one bus running from Harvard Square in Cambridge to Dudley Square in Roxbury. Many of the most popular modern bus routes in the Boston area were once trolleys.

Right-Side Driver

I notice that the car with the plate number 7525 has the steering wheel on the right-hand side. I wonder how common this was in those days.

[Very common. - Dave]


The Billings and Stover Apothecary seen at the right on Brattle Street persisted until 2002.

Harvard Yard

Nancy says the brick arches to the left of the street car are the entrance to Harvard Yard.

Can anyone ID the cars?

Not so petite little goil

There, at the center of the portico. She's dressed like a child no more than eight or ten years old, and is carrying the baby dolls to prove it, but she's already bigger than some of the adult women in the photo. If that's her mom next to her, genuinely petite under her big hat, that's one little goil who must have taken after her great big dad.

Police headgear

During the first part of the 20th century, most American police officers wore headgear in use during the latter part of the 19th century. The practice, at least with the Boston Police Department, was to wear the gray colored hats in the summer, then switch over to black during the winter months. The police officer shown in the photo was of course a member of the Cambridge Police Department.

The Kiosk

Here is the inevitable Google Street View comparison, albeit from a slightly different angle (the traffic pattern in Harvard Square seems to have changed in the past 100 years):

View Larger Map

The subway station moved from this original location across the street; its headhouse is still there and referred to by natives as the "kiosk" although it's now occupied by the Out of Town News newsstand. When the Red Line was expanded past Harvard in the 1980s the entrance was moved from that headhouse to a clunky brick monstrosity about 50 feet away.

As you can see, the small wood frame house is still extant just next to the gate into Harvard Yard (behind/to the right of the headhouse), although I'm not sure about the tall building we can see beyond it. Now that space, roughly, is occupied by the Widener Library, which hadn't yet been built because it was named after an alum who sank with the Titanic 'round about this time.

The buildings you can see on the right side of Massachusetts Ave (aka Mass Ave) in the original were razed in the 1960s by Harvard to build a brutalist concrete monstrosity (are you sensing a theme here?) that now houses their health services for students, among other things.

That's more like it - exorcism

Nice sunny day, faster shutter speed with plenty of activity - but no ghosts.

All God's Children got hats

In all these early 20th century photos, every head gets a hat, even petite little goils got huge chapeaux. I am focusing now on the extreme right of the picture, under the Billings Apothecary sign, where one can see the back of a "beat cop" with the old timey, double-breasted police uniform and bobby-looking helmet, such as those seen in most old comedy movies when Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplain would get in trouble. Do the east coast cities still have policemen who walk a beat on the city streets? I haven't been there in so long, I'm not sure they still do that. My Uncle was a Brooklyn policeman who walked a beat from 1936 through 1966 and also patrolled the l939 World's Fair in Queens, N.Y. I love living in the past (it is an escape) and thank you Shorpy for reigniting old memories so accurately. P.S. The lady crossing the street appears to be wearing two hats.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2018 Shorpy Inc.