Saturday, February 4, 2012

Boston at Work and at Play

This selection of some of the many postcards of the city that Rotograph produced begins with a picturesque but far from genteel view of the waterside district. The composition of this image is particularly appealing, as the photographer has made good use of the converging lines of the equally sized attached buildings on the left and the masts of the ships on the right.

Just a few years after the image was taken (it's copyright 1905) a photographer named Henry Donald Fisher began documenting the wharf; some of his work can be found in Andrew W. German's Down on T Wharf: The Boston Fisheries As Seen through the Photographs of Henry D. Fisher (Mystic Seaport Press). Although some sources once contended that the "Tea" Wharf was the site of the Boston Tea Party, this suggestion has apparently been firmly ruled out. Most or all of the wharf is now said to be gone.

The Vendome, above, designed by William G. Preston and completed in 1871, was a high-class hotel for many years. A 1972 fire and partial collapse on the site killed nine firefighters, but the building still stands, though no longer as a hotel.

"Good bye till I see you again — am en route to New York. Wish I might have seen you. Yours E. M. R."

In the image above you can see clearly how the printer applied the red ink using a separate plate that was a little out of register, leaving an unnatural aura around the tree branches at left.

The remaining scenes are all in Frederick Law Olmsted's Franklin Park. The interesting looking building below was known as the Refectory — a fancy word for dining hall — and the elevated ground it stood upon was known as Refectory Hill. Originally designed as an eatery, it was briefly used as a branch library (as the card indicates) before becoming a concession stand in 1928. It was torn down in 1972.

"I am still hear. Coming home Saturday. L. K."

The Overlook, above, was used as a changing area for the adjacent athletic fields and later as a station for the park police. It burned to the ground in the 1940s but its ruins are still marked on the official interactive map of the park.

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