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by Jacob Marmor (pseudonym)

Friday, August 1, 1941

in What's New In Town

W. J. Sidis


        The obscure side-road called Landing Road in the Mount Auburn section of Cambridge marks an event of importance. The far end of the road, on the shore of the Charles, is presumed, according to one interpretation of old Icelandic records, to be where Icelandic ships landed on American shores in 1000, and a colony was started in 1002. The first landing of the expedition in these parts was, according to this version, Jeffries Point in East Boston―the present site of the Airport. A location for settlement was sought upriver―it was necessary to detour the Shawmut peninsula on account of its already being occupied by the native town of Shawmut (Boston). The Icelandic company vanished shortly after, having been captured by the local tribesmen and the people adopted into the tribe. This part of the continent was named Vinland the Good by the Icelanders, and the settlement was called Straumsfjord (which can be translated as Streambay). A statue of Lief Ericsson “the Discoverer,” inscribed in English and old Rumic characters, stands on Commonwealth Avenue near the Fens. It is claimed in Iceland that Columbus, before planning his expedition, went to Iceland and read up on the story of Iceland’s settlements in Boston.


        Probably the only rocking-chair movie theater in existence is to be found in the Park Square Building in Boston.


        The only volcano there ever was on the Atlantic coast of this country, was in Boston. Some millions of years ago, a volcano stood in what is now West Roxbury; and the lava poured out from it has resulted in the “Roxbury pudding-stone” found scattered for some six miles round that site. The crater is now a valley located between Washington and Center Streets. Holmes” story of “The Dorchester Giant” is one story to explain the pudding-stone. According to this, the Dorchester Gant shut up his wife and children in a “mammoth fold,” and gave them a plum-pudding “as big as the State House Dome” to keep them quiet. They threw pieces of pudding all over the neighborhood in a rage, and these pieces have become frozen into rock. Another story is that the spirit of liberty was born in an eruption of that volcano, and that she still hovers about her native city.


        There is an unused subway directly over Broadway Station in South Boston. When you enter or leave the subway there, a spacious mezzanine landing marks where the upper-level used to be; and a low wall at one end enables you to look into the impenetrable darkness of the unused subway. The ramp still to be seen on Dorchester Avenue marks one end of this bit of tube; the other end is in the basement of a building. In World War days, when the Broadway station was the end of the line, trolleys used this upper level to connect with subway trains.


        Up to 1912, the Back Bay part of Commonwealth Avenue was under a “drive-to-the-left rule―the only such place in the United States. The rule was fnally changed on account of the dangers of the cross-over point, which was about where the underpass now comes out on the far side of Massachusetts Avenue.


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