The Last Of The Bosses

Part hero, part rogue, Boston’s Jim Curley triumphed over the Brahmins in his heyday, but became in the end a figure of pity.

For the first half of this century and beyond, James Michael Curley was the most flamboyant and durable figure on Boston’s political scene. Mayor off and on for a total of sixteen years, he spent four terms in Congress and two in jail, and for two depression years he was governor of Massachusetts. At his death he lay in state for two days in the State House Hall of Flags, the fourth person in the history of the Commonwealth to be so honored.

Lost Elegance

Home to royal and republican governors, host to a century of great men, stately Shirley Place in Roxbury, Massachusetts, is falling into ruin

The Mansion is what the children of the district call it, knowing nothing of its history. It stands narrowly on its once rural hill, as it has these 200 years, in a peripheral Boston slum where the tide of middle-class respectability ebbed two generations ago. Roxbury, between Uphams Corner and the Dudley Street terminal, is not the place where one would expect to find a royal governor’s residence. There is a mean anonymity to these encroaching streets.Read more »

The Great Rail Wreck At Revere

Single-track lines run by one-track minds gave the reformers of Boston their biggest cause since abolition

So long as it remained in public consciousness it was known as the Great Revere Disaster. Written or spoken it deserved the adjective, and the capitals. Worse railroad wrecks had happened before; worse were to come after. But none had such far-reaching results as this tragedy which in 1871 took place in the small Massachusetts village whose name sought to honor the state’s incomparably best-known hero. Read more »