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.

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