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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Adams Square: 1905

Adams Square: 1905

Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1905. "Adams Square Station." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Ames Hotel

The tall building looming up behind the Adams Square Station is the Ames Building, constructed around 1890, and once the tallest building in Boston. It has recently been extensively renovated and is now the Ames Hotel. The view in the picture is looking down what is today essentially a pedestrian walkway between State Street and City Hall (the single ugliest building in Boston, if not the entire Western Hemisphere), which today must be sitting right on top of where the station house was located. This part of Boston has been so completely transformed over time that I can't see anything else recognizable. For what it's worth, if you could look directly to your left, you would most likely be looking at Faneuil Hall - the actual Hall, not the Marketplace.

Wonderful photograph!

Shoes

On the extreme right is the first Morse Shoe store. Over the years it grew into a national distribution chain and expanded its outlets throughout the country. I worked for that company for 23 years in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. It was bought in the late '80s by the J. Baker Company and then that was bought in the '90s by FootStar. Morse was by far the better organization.

An inviting scene

Something about this one -- maybe the views down multiple choices of street? -- make me especially want to walk into it and explore the city. The weather is nice, people are neatly dressed, and the stores have interesting signs.

Retouched

Here's a postcard view, in fact the exact same image. The pipe at left has been retouched out, and the billboard no longer advertises Scotch whisky, but rather the postcard publisher. More here.

[Love the puffy clouds! - Dave]

All gone!

Adams Square Station, Scollay Square Station, and Haymarket Station were all built at the same time, and with identical "headhouses" (those buildings with the clocks where passengers entered at street level).

Boston City Hall now sits directly on top of the old subway station site. The creation of Government Center got rid of the station and the entire neighborhood, as well as Scollay Square, back when Boston was enjoying urban renewal in the 1960s. A small part of the old tunnel between Scollay and Adams is still being used for secure (i.e., bomb-proof) document storage under City Hall.

The statue of Samuel Adams that stood in the square now stands at Faneuil Hall.

Great composition -- sort of

I really liked the composition and action in this wonderful street scene until I noticed the water pipe and dangling hose intruding at left center. What a bizarre placement.

If the photographer was trying to frame the view with the dripping hose, he really muffed it. [As we can see above, Detroit Publishing retouched the pipe out of the image. - Dave]

On an unrelated but happy note, check out all the street urchins. School must have been out that day.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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