Thumbing through our review copy of Dirty Old Boston: Four Decades of a City in Transition, one of the first photos I spotted was one we had used recently right here on BostonZest for our post: Where Is This Lion? Fun with Historic Photos!
If you love our posts that include photography from Boston's rich history, you could fill a rainy afternoon paging through Dirty Old Boston. We used this photo as a clue to one of our Attention to Detail searches were you have to try to remember where you saw an architectural detail.
Dirty Old Boston author Jim Botticelli used it as one example of the faces and places of Boston in the 1950s. His caption:
"All he wants are his two front teeth. Posing with the Stowe Lion on Columbus Avenue. South End, 1950s. Photos by Leslie Jones."
The book is divided by decades from the 1940s to the 1980s and is full of the people, places, events, and changes that left their mark on each era.
Here's Part of the Publisher's Description
"Rich and compelling, Dirty Old Boston chronicles the people, streets, and buildings from the postwar years to 1987. From ball games to dive bars, and amidst an ever-changing skyline, Dirty Old Boston captures some of the city’s most dramatic and tumultuous events including the wholesale razing of neighborhoods, Boston’s busing crisis, and the continual fight for affordable housing.
Photographs—assembled from family albums, student projects, institutional archives, and professional collections—reveal Boston as seen from the streets. What emerges is a narrative of a city tearing down and rebuilding, protesting and celebrating, fading and thriving. Illuminating Boston’s singular tenacity and spirit, Dirty Old Boston presents our proud moments and doesn’t shy away from our growing pains. Raw and beautiful, this book is an important and evocative tribute to the city and its people."
The Hancock Tower is shown under construction on one page and after (photo above) with the caption,"Slabs of plywood already plague I.M. Pei's design. Back Bay, 1973. Courtesy National Archives"
A Book to Share
My copy already has page after page tagged with Post-it flags marking sections I want to share with others. In fact, there are so many photos that I want to share with my friend Linda Cox, that I'm going to have to plan a long coffee hour just to talk about them. We both love historic photos.
Sharing the fun of exploring this book with others who love this city and learning from some of the people who have lived here through these decades will be half the fun of having it. It contains many photos from private collections that even a historic photo geek like me has never had the opportunity to view.
Some pages will hit emotional hot buttons. I found myself running my finger across the photo of Max Kaiserman at his newsstand in Copley Square where I used to buy my morning papers. It's that kind of book – one that will bring back memories for some and show others what was here before they were.
Dirty Old Boston: Four Decades of a City in Transition will also make a wonderful holiday gift for any fan of this city and its history.
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Words: Penny Cherubino
Photography: Courtesy of Union Park Press and Dirty Old Boston: Four Decades of a City in Transition.