Recent weeks have seen the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" re-enter the public discourse. Turns out there are also "low crimes," one of which used to carry a particularly gruesome penalty in New England - and which is still listed as a capital offense in Massachusetts lawbooks even though it was used primarily as a way to punish slaves, such as a slave known only as Mark, whose tarred remains were kept on public display by the side of the road in Charlestown for more than 20 years. Read more.
The folks at Boston City Archives wonder if you can identify the people standing with then mayor Ray Flynn in this photo. This isn't one of those historic puzzlers - they really don't know (well, except one of them was Fire Commissioner Leo Stapleton) and are looking for help.
Before he became Abe Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth was a well known actor who so liked performing in Boston - at the Boston Museum theater on Tremont Street, next to the King's Chapel Burying Ground - that he bought a parcel on Commonwealth Avenue in the newly emerging Back Bay to build a home. Read more.
The Friends of the Hyde Park Branch Library have started raising funds for a gravestone for Rebecca Lee Crumpler, who graduated from the New England Female Medical College in Boston in 1864 and whose body currently lies in an unmarked grave in Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park. Read more.
You can use a slider to see Scollay Square change into Government Center.
The BPL's Norman Leventhal Map Center has created this really nifty thing that you should probably stop reading about right now unless you have some free time, because you're going to want to play with it right away: Atlascope Boston lets you enter a Boston-area address or location and then see what it looked like in the good old days (some of the maps date to the 1860s). Read more.
New England Folklore recounts the story of the two elms that flank the Robert Gould Shaw memorial at Beacon and Park streets - planted by John Hancock himself before the Revolution. Turns out the memorial sits on a vault designed to protect the roots of the trees.
J.L. Bell reports on a 1775 ordinance on Boston drivers:
Complaints have been made to the Selectmen that numbers of the Inhabitants have been greatly disturbed by the driving of Slays thro’ the Town, with the beat of Drums & other noises, at unseasonable Times of the Night; To prevent such Disorders for the future, Orders have been given the Constables of the Town Watch to stop such offenders and make Report of their Names, that they may be dealt with as the Law directs.
The Boston City Archives has a photo of a trolley running down Blue Hill Avenue on Jan. 3, 1933. Like Columbia Road and Washington Street south of West Roxbury Parkway, Blue Hill Avenue today has a median strip where the trolleys used to run.
Aline Kaplan introduces us to the history of the Calf Pasture pumping station on what is now the UMass Boston campus on Columbia Point: The pumping station was built in an era of ornateness for public buildings, even those whose function was to help pump raw sewage to Moon Island, where it would be released as the tide went out - on land that was originally used for grazing cows.