Re: Freight Car Surprise in Boston Harbor

Schuyler Larrabee

You are correct, Don. The tools we have today to investigate this are
astounding. I used Google Earth, and while the "lens" used by GE is
different than the lens used in taking the Shorpy photo, I was able to
establish that the "eye level" of the photograph is about 70' above sea
level, and that it is just north of the present-day New England Aquarium, at
the shoreward end of the Aquarium building, so it must have been from a
rooftop. Or perhaps a ladder set up on the rooftop of the "Metropolitan S.
S. Co." in the foreground.

And yes, the Customs House tower was likely beat for height by the Hancock
building, but not by New England T&T. Take a look at GE in three-d view and
you'll see that the Hancock is taller, by maybe 100', but the NET&T is
definitely shorter.

Years ago you could just walk into the Customs House Tower and take the
elevator to the outdoor walkway around the top, above the clock and just
below the sloping roof. I don't think you can do that now, since it's been
turned into expensive residential condos. It was a great break at
lunchtime, and you could still see some steam-era passenger and freight cars
over in the Fort Point area, the fan pier. (Whew, gotta get list-relevant


--- In STMFC@... <> , "Schuyler
Larrabee" <schuyler.larrabee@...> wrote:

Steve's link took me, at least, to the cover of the book. There are photos
on the page facing 88, and a few pages later, in the appendix. Click
through a few pages from the front, and you get to the TofC, which has
hotlinks to get to later chapters in the book, so you don't have to page
through the entire thing.

I think this photo was taken FROM the Customs House, which was the tallest
building in Boston for years, until (I think) the Prudential building was
built in the back bay in the 60s.
I, too, wondered if the photo was taken from the Custom House tower but
believe the angle is wrong and that it was taken for a rooftop along Atlntic
Ave. But the first building taller than the Custom House tower in Boston was
not the Prudential. It was either the old New England Telephone & Telegraph
Building or the original John Hancock Buillding with the light in its tower
to tell what the weather forecast was by changing its color. I was told as a
youngster that airline pilots approaching Boston form NYC could see the
beacon on the John Hancock Building by teh time they reached Hartford, CT.

Cordially, Don Valentine

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