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by Jacob Marmor (pseudonym)

Friday, February 20, 1942

in What's New In Town

W. J. Sidis


        Among the little alleys that were wiped out when Back Bay Station was built, there was one that had the unusual name of Tennis Court.


        There used to be a Bath Street in Post Office Square, ducking off the square and then making a bend back into the square again. The older part of the office building in the squarethe Water Street end of the buildingshows a deep dent in the facade, where Bath Street formerly started.


        In September, 1919, the Boston Police went on strike, and one of the worst problems the city had was dealing with the resultant traffic tangles. The corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets was one of the worst in this respect, and it was not seriously helped by home-guard traffic cops whose idea of regulating traffic consisted mainly of pointing fixed bayonets at auto tires or at drivers. The somebody got the bright idea of painting a white line down the center of Boylston Street from Tremont Street to Park Square, to make it easier for drivers to stay on their own side of the street. This did not end the traffic jam, but it helped considerably. The use of white lines as a traffic aid is now found everywhere, but it started in Boston.


        The present location of the Boston Post Office has been used for that purpose since some time before the Civil War. The old building on that spot, a gray stone structure, will be remembered by many Bostonians. The massive stone structure stopped the progress of the Great Fire of 1872, though not without showing signs of external damage; in spite of which, the building continued to stand for another sixty years. About ten years ago, a new post office was built on the site of the old, while two temporary post offices were set up in its placeone on Court Square (the former Young’s Hotel building), and one at State Street and Atlantic Avenue (now used by the Telephone Company). The present Post Office building contains the cornerstone of the old building, bearing a tablet marking the limits of the Great Fire of 1872, and still showing the marks of fire damage.


        The Boston State House is the oldest State capitol in this country. It was built on land forfeited during the Revolution by Tories that were “sent to Halifax.” All other State capitols except three (New York, Louisiana, and Nebraska) are built substantially on the model of the State House in Boston. So is the United States Capitol in Washington, not to mention the capitols of the provinces of Canada and of several Latin-American nations.


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