Monday, September 30, 2013

Abandoned Buildings and Renovation in Boston

I recently came across a book entitled A Blight on Boston: How Shall it be Removed written by John Albree and published in 1906. The book talks about idle land and abandoned railroad property in Park Square, located near the Back Bay, on the corner of Boylston Street, Columbus Street and Charles Street where the Boston Common and the Public Gardens meet. The land was abandoned by the Boston and Providence Railroad in 1899 and by 1906 when the book was written it was still abandoned. The author describes the land as unproductive and “not earning up to its potential in taxes.” By 1906 the buildings have been occupied by an automobile dealership and by a roller skating rink with the Shubert Theater moving in a few years later on January 24, 1910. 

Park Square is no longer identified on 2013 maps but there are many businesses that use Park Square in their titles.  Some of the streets have changed. For instance Arlington Street was shorter and did not cross Boylston Street in 1906.

The abandoned Boston and Providence railroad station was replaced by South Station.  According to the South Station website it took two years to build and was dedicated on December 30, 1898, the largest rail station ever built at the time.  There were five railroads before South Station was built and only two railroad companies, the New Haven Railroad and the Boston and Albany Line survived to move into South Station.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian