Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boston, MA - Hanover Street, Congress Street

A MAYBE AND A DEFINITELY. Lewis Hine took this first photo in August 1912. It is captioned “Vitto Romano, 76 Charter Street, Boston, Mass., carrying load of garments from 30 Blackstone Street. Said 12 years old and that only his mother finishes them.”

At first, I thought the location of this building behind Vitto was easily solved … it looked like the entrance to the pub called “
Bell in Hand Tavern,” which is America’s oldest and continuously operating tavern. When I compared the two locations, though, they were similar, but too different for me to claim a match.

When I went out searching for the location of another of Hine’s photos near 7 Marshall Street, I noticed something similar in a building beside it, coincidentally the other side of the Bell in Hand building. It’s 147 Hanover Street, home to “
The Point.” Do you think it’s a match?

I’m not yet convinced, and another thing throwing me off is that in the photo Hine took 3 years before at the next door location of 7 Marshall Street, you can see trolley car tracks in cobblestone Hanover Street, but in this photo from 1912, none are visible. Hmmm… definitely up for discussion.

A found match to report, though, is one whose present-day location is 55 Congress Street. It took me a few tries to nail down this match, I’ve had my eye on it for a few weeks. I overlooked it a few times because those metal grates on the windows are not still fully with us. This location is at the corner of Congress and Water Streets, near Post Office Square and right around the corner from another found location on Water Street
that Hine photographed.

Hine shot both of these photos in November, 1910. The first is titled “Day Messenger,” and the other “Day Messengers.”


Hine photo credits in their order of appearance on this page:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, [LC-DIG-nclc-04241].

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, [LC-DIG-nclc-03382].

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, [LC-DIG-nclc-03381].

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Boston, MA - Burroughs Newsboys Home

BREAKING NEWS - I couldn’t help but follow up on my previous blog entry with more news about the newsboys in Boston.

After running across this photo Hine took in 1909 in Boston that he captioned “The Newsboys Building. Intended to Counteract the Attractions of the street,” I was hot on the trail to see if it still existed.

Well, does it still exist? No, but it does have an interesting connection to what currently stands at this 10 Somerset Street address.

The full name of the “Newsboys Building” that Hine referred to in his photo caption was “The Burroughs Newsboys Home,” founded by Russian immigrant Harry E. Burroughs, who originally came to the United States at the age of 12 and became a newsboy. Later in life, Burroughs attended Suffolk Law School in Boston, becoming a successful lawyer who dedicated much of his life to helping the plight of inner-city boys in particular. More can be read about The Burroughs Newsboys Foundation by clicking

The Burroughs Newsboys Building on Somerset Street was a safe haven for the newsboys. It was said that for 25 cents per year, a boy could spend his time in this building having fun, meeting new friends and even watching movies, all which helped to offset the other part of their lives that required them to be on the streets early in the morning through late in the evening, hawking newspapers.

Here are some photos Hine shot in October 1909 of newsboys who were enjoying their time inside the Burroughs Newsboys Home -- (The first was captioned “Newsboys Club“ and the second “In the Newsboys Reading Room. Boys seated at tables playing gamers.”):

Today, this space is home to the Nathan R. Miller Residence Hall of Suffolk University. Although it’s unclear to me if Miller himself was ever a newsboy, accounts say that when Miller was a young boy growing up in this Beacon Hill neighborhood, he spent time at the Newsboys Building. Miller received an honorary degree from Suffolk University in 2003, being recognized for starting a small accounting firm which blossomed into a leading Boston area real estate business, Nathan R. Miller Properties, Ltd., which has transacted upon some of Boston’s most prestigious addresses. To read more information on Miller, as well as about the dedication of this residence hall in his honor, click here.

Here’s a picture of what this location looks like today:

Lewis Hine photo credits, listed in order of appearance on this page:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03352

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03351

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03350

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Boston, MA - Newspaper Row

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!! As long as I’ve worked in Boston, I’ve never heard of the once-upon-a-time area called “Newspaper Row.” When I saw it referenced in Hine’s captions on some of the photos that appear below on this post, I thought it was just a catchy phrase he had penned, honestly.

I did some research online about this, which led me to the below old postcard of Washington Street. At first glance, I somewhat recognized the bend of the road in the postcard, but certainly couldn’t place those buildings in the Boston that I know.
I’ve been totally surprised by what I found out about this. The location of what was once a real section of Boston, referred to as “Newspaper Row” had building after building that was home to up to 8 different newspapers, including The Boston Journal and The (Boston) Globe (which is still in operation today, just from another location – though it didn’t leave its Newspaper Row location until 1958!). The section of Washington Street that used to occupy these newspaper chains is between State and Water Streets.

I have walked down this street hundreds of times, and it’s about a minute’s walk from where I currently work. I didn’t recognize the buildings instantly because it’s almost impossible to – nearly all of them are gone! (They’ve been replaced by such things as a gaudy cement parking garage and a high-rise apartment complex, for instance).

The photo of the Boston Journal building that Hine took (below), that he captioned simply "Newsies," kept making me ponder. “Hmmmm… that kind of looks familiar, maybe? Is it …. Is it … the location of Vitamin Shoppe where I buy my vitamins?!” YES! This location is present-day 286 Washington Street. I’ve got some vitamins sitting in my medicine cabinet as I write this that I bought at this very store. How weird is life?

Photo taken October 1909

Photo taken March 2008

Something has definitely been reworked on the first and second floors of this building, though. You’ll count (or I did!) 6 windows on the left-hand side of the building’s second floor in Hine’s photo. Today’s second floor has 5 windows. What hasn’t changed is the building on Water Street (look for the tall, skinny, whitish building on the right hand side of photo) – it’s still there today!

I have a different perspective of this street now, for sure. I remember learning about the news boys, or “newsies,” as they’re called, in many of my mass communications and news writing classes in college. Geez, I was in college when Disney came out with the movie I couldn’t wait to go to the theatre to see -- “
Newsies.” (Wow, I guess I have been like this for a while…) Anyway, not the worst movie to see. But, something tells me by the looks on some of these boys’ faces in these photos, there life clearly wasn’t filled with as much singing and dancing like those of their Disneyfied counterparts on film.

Here are two additional photos Hine took of on Boston’s Newspaper Row. I wish I could take comparison shots of these photos for you, but these buildings are definitely yesterday’s news…

"Sunday 5 A.M. Newsies starting out." October 1909
A scene at Newspaper Row, Sunday, 5 A.M. October 1909


Lewis W. Hine photograph credits, listed in order of appearance on this page:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03304.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03310.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03312.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Boston, MA - 143 Tremont Street

PACKAGE FOR YOU. These photos Hine took of a delivery boy are becoming two of my favorites, although they've led me on repeat trips to try to get my photo right (which I'm still not completely happy with and may update this week... I mean, mine doesn't even show the sidewalk!) Anyway, Hine's captions for these photo read "Abe Singer, 14-year old helper at Wax Florists, 143 Tremont Street. He delivers bundles, tends the door, etc." These days, "143 Tremont Street" isn't clearly labelled, although the address belongs to Boston Bike Tours. I took photos from 145 Tremont St., looking across to the edge of the Boston Common where I figured is the area behind Abe Singer in this photo, yet it just didn't add up. The building I found at this location didn't look quite right, and the distance from it to the street didn't mesh, either. Then, I noticed the Library of Congress often has higher resolution files (50 megabytes!) you can download of these photos. I zoomed in, and taking a closer look worked. The building behind Abe (now I'm talking about him by his first name as if I know him...) has grates on the windows that remind me of asterisks, while the building in the first photo I took near 145 Tremont St. didn't. Other details on the buildings didn't add up, either. So, my next hunt brought me to present-day 175 Tremont St., where the modern Loews movie theatre is. If you stand there, and look ahead of you to the Common, there is a building that still has those asterisk-like window grates and some other fine details that match the original photo...and the building sits closer to Tremont St. than the first building I had found does. Success, I think!

Photo taken February 2, 1917

This spot looks a little bland without Abe Singer, photo taken March 7, 2008

In Hine's original photo, it looks like there may be another building on the left hand side, but when you magnify this photo, that black area looks like a big smudge. If I were to guess, though I don't know much of anything about photography in Hine's time, it's probably the blur captured from passing cars "zooming" behind Abe on Tremont St. If you notice, there's just a portion of a back wheel from another vehicle visible on the very right edge of the photo.

Although I wouldn't alter Hine's photos in any way, if you brightened his original up, you'd see "Wax Florists" painted in fancy writing on the side of Abe's car. A search this morning led me to an advertisement for Wax Florists, placed in a 1908 edition of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine.

Hine took one additional photo of Abe Singer, this one inside the florist shop:

Photo taken February 2, 1917

This all just makes me wonder...what ever happened to Abe Singer?


Advertisement from The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Volume IX, Number 4. January 1908.

Lewis W. Hine photograph credits, listed in order of appearance on this page:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-04012.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-04011.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Boston, MA - Marshall & Hanover Sts.

I didn't notice this the first few times I looked at this picture, but a painted placard in the middle of this photo by Hine reads "Entrance --> No. 7 Marshall St." Lucky for me, even though I'm finding many addresses in Boston have been renumbered over the years, it seems as though 7 Marshall St. hasn't! That address still exists, and is tucked two doors down in the alley-way on the right hand side of this photo.

Marshall Street is the same street that the famous "Union Oyster House" restaurant is on in Boston.

In Hine's photo, originally captioned "Boy Woodpickers Under Way," you'll notice that the front face of this building has two sets of two windows on its second level, with the pairs separated by a square ornamental design of some sort.

The present-day photo shows that the windows have been modernized, and the ornamental square is now gone with the wind ... but a mashed-in section of bricks about its size screams "Yoo-hoo, something used to be hanging here!"

Yes, bricks are now talking to me. Ok, it's out now...I feel better.
(Oh, and is it me, or is it really strange how the sun is shining in both of these photos vertically in nearly the exact size and spot?)

Photo taken October 1909
Photo taken March 6, 2008


Lewis W. Hine photograph credit:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03333.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Boston, MA - Chinatown

When I looked at Hine's photo of this street scene, I really had no idea where it was in Boston. I saw that ornamentally arched building on the right hand side and my first thought was that it was the Opera House on Washington Street, near Downtown Crossing, but at further glance, that was wrong!(Although this scene IS on Washington Street... just further down, and on the other side of the street. Well, I was kind of close!)

I went to Google and perused the "Street View" function which lets you basically scroll through given streets and see what you'd see if you were actually driving walking down them ... and I couldn't believe where this actually was. It's at the far end of Washington Street, just at the end of Chinatown (close to New England Medical Center) and the closest cross street is Stuart Street. (A favorite restaurant my niece and I like to visit when we're in Chinatown (Pho Hoa) is on Beach Street, just on the other side of these buildings, actually. We highly recommend their chicken noodle soup and pad thai, by the way!)

As you'll see in today's photo, the ornamental arch has had another level added to it since Hine snapped his photo. And, the dark brick building to its right is occupied by a McDonald's on its ground level today. (This photo by Hine was captioned "Little Girl Woodpickers Making Up a Load.")Photo taken October 1909

Photo taken March 4, 2008

Lewis W. Hine photograph credit:
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-04558

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Boston, MA - State House, Boston Common, Water St.

So, I've worked in Boston for nearly 14 of the last 15 years of my life and recognizing these next four spots Lewis Hine took photos of was pretty easy. The State House was the easiest, of course!

The State House and surrounding buildings haven't changed all that much, as you'll see from the photos below. Interestingly enough, Hine's original caption of this photo is "Beacon Street residence being demolished (next to State House) Young children carry the wood home." It doesn't look like the residence was ever replaced. The spot is now just an extension of the State House front lawn, best I could tell.

Photo taken January 27, 1917

Photo taken February 26, 2008

Hine left a good clue in this next photo, as it's captioned "5 p.m. John McBride, messenger #27 Metropolitan Messenger and Mailing Co., 67 Bromfield Street. Said he was 14 years old and gets $5 a week. Taken near State House."

I noticed the stone fence around the State House looked similar to the one in the background of this photo and followed it to the end. I'm still not 100% happy with this photo, though. I had to stand in an odd spot on the street in traffic that came from two directions to my back. And, why that white delivery truck on the right had to be there this very second, is beyond me! You can just start to see above the delivery truck a dark building with the arches that can be seen in Hine's photo is also still with us today.

Photo taken January 1917

Photo taken February 26, 2008
Tracking down the next photo's location below I thought would be a bit easier than it ended up being. I recognized the row of houses on Beacon Street, just a few blocks away from the State House, but I had to walk up and down the street a few times to be sure. Actually, I almost gave up, and then I looked over my right shoulder, and maybe all I needed was a new perspective, because there they were! The caption on Hine's photo reads "Amateur Football on the Boston Common. Location: Boston, Massachusetts." I assure you, no football was being played in the light snow that was falling the day I took my photo. I was in the company of fellow lunch-takers (who incidentally were looking at me, wondering what the heck I was doing).

Something interesting I just noticed ... the above photos were taken in 1912. I was assuming the below photo was taken during Hine's same trip to Boston, as these houses on Beacon Street are literally a two to three minute walk from the State House, but if the photo notes on this particular picture are correct, it was actually taken 3 years before the others, in October of 1909.

Photo taken in October 1909

Photo taken February 26, 2008


This next building has its address as 40 Water Street and these days is home to one of two Boston locations of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. Hine's caption is "Day Messenger. Eugene Fennelly, 22 Holmes St." (I've learned that the addresses noted in his captions are often a commentary of where the child's home address was, and not the physical location of the photo! Darn! That would make this hunt easier!) Hmmm, and this one was taken in yet another year ... he must have liked Boston as much as I do!

Photo taken 1910 November

Photo taken February 28, 2008


Lewis W. Hine photograph credits, listed in order of appearance on this page:

  1. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-05157.

  2. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03995.

  3. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-04559.

  4. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03380.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lonsdale, RI - Mill houses

Welcome! This is my first attempt at blogging. I’m not sure if I quite know what I’m doing, but hopefully I’ll figure out more as I go along.

Anyway, I’ll spare you a more thoroughly boring intro and try to keep my words to a minimum (well, at least in the future), as I’m hoping you’re here to look at photos!

I am currently in a Master’s of Arts teaching program and this semester one of my classes is “Social Studies in the Elementary School.” The book we are using for class is called Connecting Children with Children Past and Present by Eula T. Fresch and on its cover has a sepia-toned picture of a young girl at a mill. To make a long, long story as short as possible, over the last few weeks our professor has given us background information on that photo, its photographer, and links to the Library of Congress’ website where more photos (by the thousands!) by this same photographer can be found. The photographer, of course, is Lewis W. Hine. In a few short weeks, I’ve become mildly obsessed by his work and life. (Hence the blog!)

One day I was poking around on the Library of Congress’ website, looking over some of the photos Hine took in my home state of Rhode Island, and I instantly recognized a row of three mill houses taken in nearby Lonsdale, RI. Last Saturday, I printed out a copy of Hine’s photo of these houses and drove right over to Grant Ct., where these houses appear and took a comparison photo. You’ll see both pictures below:
Photo taken November 1912
Housing conditions, Lonsdale, R.I.
Photo taken February 2008
The more I look at Hine’s photo, then back at mine, I still expect to see that lady there in the street, don’t you?

Anyway, this one photo has led me to research more locales of where Hine shot his photos and for me to try to find as many places that still exist today. My goal of this blog is to share what I’ve found, but who knows, maybe my interest will be contagious and you can send me your findings as well. “Crazier things have happened,” as I like to say.

From what I can tell, Hine took photos in many states, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin.

With the help of Google Maps’ “Street View” function (when available), I’ve been able to do a bit more research and in future posts, I’ll show you some photos I recently took in Boston (where I work), finding more matches of where Hine took some of his shots. Yes, this is what I’ve been doing on my lunch hour in 20 degree weather!

I’ll tell you, I’m certainly not taking these photos for anyone to make any kinds of comparison in Hine’s photography versus mine. I’m really just snapping these shots quickly, interested in seeing what still exists and how much certain things like buildings, streets and modes of transportation have changed over time. Hine accomplished more than enough in taking these shots initially, eventually exposing child labor across this country that led to the enactment of labor laws that are still held up today. Be warned, though, if you go on a hunt to re-shoot one of these places, trust me, you’ll never look at it quite the same way again.

I have reflected on some of the photos I have taken so far -- either onsite or when I compare the photos to Hine's afterwards and I almost expect those same people to be in the photos I take. It’s a little bit of an eerie feeling, I’ll admit. It reminds me of visiting the Civil War battlefields in Gettysburg, PA … is it me, or when you look out over those fields and squint, don’t you see all of those soldiers, too?

Lewis W. Hine photograph credit:
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-02708