Boston Bits and Insider Tips
Welcome to our intermittently updated journal of all things Bostonian, aimed to give you a taste of our city.
Following big snow storms, we figure we “own” the parking spaces we dig out and bring stuff from the house to guard them. Unfortunately, Mayor Walsh is not a fan of our collection of lawn chairs, grills and golf bags, littering our curbs. He has put a three-day limit on space holders and then sends in the city garbage collectors to haul them away.
If visitors look closely at Boston’s city squares — Liberty Square, North Square, Post Office Square — they will notice that they are really triangles.
Both were Puritans, whose emigration from England to the New World was called The Great Migration. However, the Pilgrims, who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, were Separatists — that is, they literally separated from the Anglican Church and England. The Puritans, who founded Boston in 1630, sought to stay within the Church to reform, or purify, it. As we all know, it did not work out that way.
The immortal author of Little Women had her manuscripts rejected by Boston’s top publisher, Tichnor and Fields, who advised her to give up writing and become a teacher. Driven to publish in part to provide for her family, she became the country’s most famous young readers’ author.
It’s a popular myth — Faneuil Hall has more visitors annually than Disney World. Disney World has almost 40 million a year (The Magic Kingdom alone has over 17 million). Faneuil has approx. 15 million a year, which is more than enough for Bostonians trying to navigate that small urban area.
The Paul Revere house, oldest residential building in the city, was already almost 100 years old when Revere moved into it in 1770 with his wife and 5 of his 15 children. The house was built for a rich Bostonian, Robert Howard.
Where it skirts between Beacon Hill and Boston Common, the most exclusive street in today’s Boston was Poor House Lane during colonial days.
Victorian Bostonians had a street-wise indicator of wealth for their new Back Bay enclave. If you lived on Beacon Street, you were old family and old money;
Marlborough Street…old family but no money;
Commonwealth Avenue…new family and new money;
Newbury Street…no family and no money.
Yes, that is the number of students who attend the some 65 colleges in and around Boston. You can imagine the impact they have on the city’s style, culture and energy.
add creamy peanut butter…you will recognize the Fluffernutter jingle if you are a New Englander of a certain age. Fluff, marshmallow goo in a jar, was invented 100 years ago in Somerville, MA, (next door to Boston, so it counts). It is the key ingredient in Rice Krispy Treats as well as peanut butter and marshmallow (fluffernutter ) sandwiches.
The oldest chocolate company in America, Baker Chocolate, was founded in 1780 in Boston. Visitors are surprised to learned what other major companies were Boston born: General Electric, Gillette Razor (now owned by P & G), Trip Advisor, New Balance Shoes, John Hancock Insurance, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Parker Brothers, Converse, Stride Rite, Concord Grape Jelly/Jam, and Houghton Mifflin.
Because it is on the side of the city nearest the harbor, it was the first home of successive waves of New Bostonians, prior to the era of air travel. The neighborhood has belonged to the Puritans, the earliest African Americans, the Irish (who swarmed the small district by the thousands in the 1830s and 40s), the Jews and now the Italians.
It is a unit of linear measurement, named for Oliver Smoot, an MIT freshman who was laid end to end by fellow fraternity pledges to record the length of the nearby Harvard Bridge. Fifty years later, the bridge is still carefully marked out — 364.4 smoots plus/minus one ear. The word has been accepted into the American Heritage Dictionary.