The Customs House was originally built along the Boston waterfront as offices for customs inspectors, but after years of filling in the harbor to expand the city, it now sits several hundred yards from the water. The shifting landscape is not the only change the Customs House has seen. The original building was a single story Greek temple-like building completed in 1847. In 1915, the 16 story tower was completed on top of the original base.
Today the Customs House is well known for its colorful 22 foot wide clock face that looks over much of downtown. The building itself now hosts a Marriott time-share condo.
The Irish Famine Monument was constructed in 1998 to commemorate those who died in the Irish famine and those who immigrated to the US. During and after the Irish famine, 100,000 Irish settled in Boston, and today the city is 20% Irish.
This monument depicts an Irish family suffering in Ireland, and their transformation after arriving in America.
The monument sits in a small plaza in front of Borders bookstore. The area is frequented by homeless, but seems relatively safe.
Filene's Basement, which is more than 2 floors, has the best bargains in the U.S. Designer clothes for less than half off. I got $200 suits for $80.
Now, for all you people who are interested in more than shopping, here is some history of the place: it was designed by Daniel Burnham in 1912 as the flagship store for William Filene and Sons regional retail empire-this was the renowned Midwestern city planner?s last major building. The decorative treatment of the cornices and window massing in Beaux Arts style reflect the influence of the Chicago School of Design. From a small shop begun in Salem in 1852, Polish-born William Filene brought his progressive retail ideas to Boston in 1881. The early department store created an atmosphere of fine specialty shops. Filene?s has been known since for retailing innovations. I guess you could call great sales a retailing innovation! LOL
Filene's is the only department store that I know of that has its own set of bells that chime the hour. The store was built in 1912 and has what is called a Beaux Arts facade. It has two clocks on the outside of the building as well as this four-bell carillion.
I heard on 31.12.05 that Filine's has been bought by Macy's and to be closed at the end of January 2006. I do hope that the building is not just knocked down.
Whilst I can read on the internet the history of the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic party none of my guidebooks tell me anything about this bronze statue just inside the entrance to the Old City Hall in School Street.
October 2005 I have recently had an e-mail to say that Old City Hall's management office have written that :-
" "The Donkey" was imported from Italy. We do not have record of who sculpted the statue."
It turns out the sculptor was Antonio Frilli.
Occasionally works of art are not in parks, the street or in art galleries and here is an example on the wall of Park Street Subway Station commemorating the fact that Boston has the oldest underground subway system in the USA.
Not to be confused with the State House. The Old State House was designed and constructed in 1713 and was the British Colonial Governor's offices. The lion and the unicorn on the outside of the building were, and still are, symbols of the British Crown. During the Revolution the Old State House became the headquarters of the British army. I'm afraid I didn't have time to go inside where the Bostonian Society have a museum.
Almost opposite Old South Meeting House (in the background of my photo) is a small square containing a very small garden and within it the Boston Irish Famine Memorial. It was unveiled in 1998. There are two statutes - the first in the photo depicts a family begging for food following the Irish Famine. The second statue of a prosperous and well fed Irish immigrant family.
If you set off early in the day you will be able to see these street traders carts outside Filine's. In the background is another trader who is nearly ready for trade and behind him Filine's shop window.
One of the best values of the city, the Custom House. This building is easily spotted amidst the Financial District skyscrapers for its old clock tower looks.
The tower is now a Marriott Hotel, but they allow tourists to go to the observatory (at 10am and 4pm if I remember well). So just drop by coz the tour is free and the view is breathtaking! The people who work there are very nice. The concierge told me that there's falcons who have their nest in the top of the tower, and sometimes try to attack visitors at the observatory in order to expel them from their domain (don't worry, there's a protection grid so no birds shall swoop on ya ;)
When in Boston, don't miss out on the opportunity to see an idiot in its natural habitat. That's right, JIM SAVAGE lives and works in Boston and is on display most evenings behind the bar at JJ Foleys. You can speak to it, pet it and look at it for as long as you can affort beer. Here is a picture of it
Boston is a great walking city. Many sites are within walking distance with each other. You can either tour the city yourself or use the Freedom Trail as a guide. There's a lot of great shopping oppurtunites too. This picture was taken outside a giant Borders bookstore in downtown.
Of course, the true Bostonian doesn't venture into Downtown Crossing to see the scattered remnants of the city's colonial history. They go to shop. And not just any shopping; bargain shopping is the name of the game in the Crossing, although Macy's and Filene's, the two large department stores anchoring the district, do sell some fairly expensive wares. Filene's Basement, appropriately situated in the basement of Filene's department store (although the two stores are in no way affiliated) is the bargain hunter's paradise. The wedding dress sale, in which the store is filled with severely marked down wedding dresses, is almost like a religious holiday for engaged women in Boston, who flock there and stampede each other for the best deal. Other nearby shops fan out from the intersection of Washington, Summer, and Winter. Until recently, it hadn't been a place for high style, but some new, bargain designer stores such as H&M have opened recently and have provided a new impetus for Bostonians to flock to Downtown Crossing.
The Old Corner Bookstore, for many years one of Boston's most famed monuments to literature, is now basically a tourist trap. But the knicknacks and cheap souvenirs which lie inside don't negate the significant contributions made to American literature via this structure. It's one of the oldest remaining in central Boston, built in 1713, and is now owned by the Boston Globe newspaper. Used as a meetingplace for years by prominent thinkers and authors among the Boston intellectual circles, it is, unfortunately, a treasured landmark turned sour. Admire how it stands in beautiful defiance of the hideous brutalist parking garage nextdoor, but don't dare venture inside.
Old Opera House
Opened in 1928 as a vaudeville theater, and becoming the Opera House in 1978 under direction of Sarah Caldwell, the Boston Opera House is a magnificent building with precious history. It is one of the most sumptuous surviving buildings by the eminent theater architect, Thomas Lamb. Designed in the Beaux Arts style, he intended for this theater to set a new standard for grandeur. It truly did so with its rich sculptural detail, lavish goldleaf ornamentation, marble columns and French Baroque paintings. There is
a plan to restore the front facade and trim of the historic theater to its original condition, while renovating the interior.
The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, has taken an interest in historic preservation, and nominated the Paramount, the Opera House, and the Modern Theatre on Washington Street for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of Endangered Places in 1995. All three made the cut in 1995, and the mayor has been involved in efforts to restore the buildings since.