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 (They’ve been replaced by such things as a gaudy cement parking garage and a high-rise apartment complex, for instance).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.


  1. I'm 75, and remember newpaper row, and remember on Washington Street, some of the newspapers used to have these big blackboards in front with the news of the day put on them, I think with chalk, and there was always a bunch of people standing around reading the news.
    You have a nice website, interesting photos, Thanks

  2. That is SO interesting! Thank you for sharing your memory of Newspaper Row. I am glad you enjoyed the website. It bothers me that I haven't had the chance to get back to it lately, but will do in time!