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.


  1. wonderful piece...wonderful

  2. The wings were added to the State House in 1917, but the row houses out front weren't removed until later. By 1928, they were gone. They had been built on the site of John Hancock's house.

    Great work on your blog - I'll be linking to it.