— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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September 1, 2012

Paris (and London) in Boston



...The planners, Arthur Gilman and Gridley James Fox Bryant, were highly influenced by mid-nineteenth-century Paris, as designed by Baron Haussmann. Paris had recently been made a city of wide avenues, boulevards and monuments, and Back Bay would become somewhat like that. Gilman had recently visited London, too, where prominent English architects had taken him in hand. He was impressed by the grand boulevards in the West End, particularly Kensington with its fine cultural and public buildings. ...
      Commonwealth Avenue, which eventually ran from the Public Garden west through Kenmore Square to Brighton and Newton, is based on Parisian boulevards. It's incredibly wide for a Boston street. In the Back Bay, it was made two hundred feet in width from the buildings on one side to those on the other; those buildings each being set back twenty feet from the sidewalks, It also has a one-hundred-foot pedestrian mall down the middle now planted with trees at planned intervals and studded with statuary.

excerpt (and image, too) from Beacon Hill, Back Bay and the
Building of Boston's Golden Age
, by Ted Clarke

A few days of walking around my new neighborhood sent me off to the library this morning in search of guidebooks, histories, anything I could find that would tell me more about it.  It was just perfect to open this one and find this picture, which would have been taken from the window of one of my upstairs neighbors, in the 1940s or 50s (?), when we lived in the Hotel Puritan.



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