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Winter Light: 1920

"Boston Common, 1920, Park Street side. Horses pulling snow plow." 4x5 inch glass negative, photographer unknown. View full size.

"Boston Common, 1920, Park Street side. Horses pulling snow plow." 4x5 inch glass negative, photographer unknown. View full size.


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Most certainly timeless!

jsmakbkr put it exactly right, in calling this "timeless"! That was my reaction, too. I've been around for 60 years and lived in a wide variety of places. Regardless of where you are when given the opportunity of experiencing it, a new snowfall always sounds, smells, and generally feels, the same. It is always comforting and delightful!


I really wish we could still see such scenes today. Is a howling snowblower such an improvement?

Golden dome not pictured

The steps you can see beyond the horses lead to the Maasachusetts State House, on Beacon St. at the top of the Common.

Horse-pulled snow plow

I've often wondered how snow plowing worked in horse-powered days. You'd think the plow would have to be the leading edge, and would therefore have to be pushed, but you can't put the cart before the horse (so to speak), so here the horses are pulling the plow, which means they have to tromp through the snow in advance of the plow.


With the right weather conditions and a cooperative pair of horses, a nearly identical re-take could be done this Winter. All of the structures partially visible in the background - the cast-iron fence along Park Street, the Union Club and its iron balconies and horizontal flagpole across Park, the Massachusetts State House and its 1917 expansion, the statute of Joseph Hooker and his horse on the State House grounds, and the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment (of "Glory" fame) - are essentially unchanged. The canopy of large trees is well-maintained at this end of the Common. At most, someone might need to shoo away tourist-filled "Ducks" and other modern vehicles from Beacon Street.

Beautiful New England picture

The picturesque trees look like they are painted instead of photographed. The person clearing off the driveway in the background slightly left of the horses lends a touch of realism. The horses' clomping shoes are silenced by the cushion of snow. With just the addition of a red bow and bit of holly around each horse's neck, it could be a Christmas card, all just black and white as is, but with the green holly and red bow adding seasonal festivity. I love this picture.

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