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Time was, delivery vehicles got by on just one horse power

Street scene in old Boston, with horses

The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can place this scene. See it larger.


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Echo Hall was at 321 Main Street in Charlestown, around 1900.

Voting closed 19

Certainly before 1900 if it is that address, because the El was under construction by that point.

But the photo doesn't line up with the Bromley maps from that time, which show #321/323 set back from the street, and a firehouse at #331, which appears to be a building in this photo. The firehouse dated to at least 1885, and the BERy (at that time West End Street Railway) poles suggest overhead power, which wasn't installed until 1889. The photo also shows five buildings next to each other. And in fact, it appears that Echo Hall didn't move there until 1901, at which point the El was up and running.

Aha! Johnson Ave. 196 to be exact. Right where the CVS and CorePower are today. Johnson is long gone, as are Miller and Chapman just to the north (replaced by an extension of School). So some time in the late 1890s. I'll guess 1898.

196 and 194 were torn down by 1952, and the rest of the block by 1969 although the roads weren't reconfigured until the mid-1970s. The brick buildings north of them remained until the 1970s, but were torn down for the shopping center. Chapman and Miller Streets were replaced around the same time, probably around when Rutherford and Community College were built in the mid 1970s. There are no land records for Chapman Street since 1973, so I'd guess around 1972.

Voting closed 21

A very large percentage of these photos from the city archives were taken for the Boston Elevated Railway Co., or for the city Transit Department, just before construction began on various transit lines. The purpose was to document the "before" condition of various properties along the route. In this case, a photo on Main Street in Charlestown, would likely have been taken just before work began on the Main Line Elevated which ran along that street.

Voting closed 14

Thanks for playing, folks! This shows Main St and Johnson Place in Charlestown on Feb 16, 1900. It was almost certainly taken to document the street before the construction of the Elevated Rail.

Voting closed 16