Boston Public Library
Exhibitions

2012-2013: Building Boston

Download the Building Boston Brochure (PDF, 1.8MB)

Building Boston is a citywide celebration of Boston’s public spaces – the architectural and cultural cornerstones that have provided a place for generations to build and share community.

Throughout the city’s long history, our gardens, sports arenas, libraries, courthouses, public transportation centers, and memorials have represented some of the most distinctive and well-known elements of the cityscape. Building Boston explores the stories behind the creation of these iconic public venues, examining the conceivers, constructors, chroniclers, and ever-changing set of users who call these spaces their own.

Jump to: Exhibitions | Special Tours | Programs | Lecture Series | Films Series | Slideshows


Exhibitions

Boston Sports Temples
November 17, 2012 – May 31, 2013
Central Library, Johnson Lobby

Boston Sports Temples showcases Boston’s beloved sports venues—most notably the Boston Garden, Fenway Park, Braves Field, and Suffolk Downs. Featuring the Boston Public Library’s outstanding collection of historic sports photography, the exhibition follows the creation and evolution of these four great public venues and their changing roles, functions, and communities of users.
 
 
 

Boston in the Gilded Age: Mapping Public Places
November 16, 2012 – April 23, 2013
Central Library, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
The Gilded Age—the era from the late 1860s to the late 1890s—was a period of significant growth and transformation in Boston. Designed to document Boston’s radically changing geography, this exhibition focuses on the evolving street pattern and emerging park system, developed for the City’s growing population.  
 
 
 

An Elevated View: The Orange Line
October 19, 2012 – January 19, 2013
Central Library, Wiggin Gallery

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9am-5pm,
Tuesday and Thursday 9am-7pm, Sunday 1-5pm
Twenty five years ago, the MBTA relocated the Orange Line, dismantling the elevated rail that had long defined the City’s Southwest Corridor. This exhibition features over 65 photographs documenting the elevated rail and its architectural and social surroundings held by the BPL’s Print Department.
 
 

The People’s Own: Construction of the McKim Building
October 9, 2012 – January 31, 2013
Central Library, Rare Books Lobby
This exhibition features historic photographs documenting the library’s construction, dating primarily from August 1888 to December 1889.
 
 
 
 
 

Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces
September 28, 2012 – February 24, 2013
Central Library, Changing Exhibits Gallery

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Boston Public Library partner to present the first major exhibition on the Guastavino Company and its architectural and historical legacy. Rafael Guastavino – Spanish immigrant, innovative builder, and visionary architect – and his son Rafael Jr. contributed to the design and construction of structural tile vaulting in more than 1,000 major buildings across the United States. Watch a video of the model vault construction.
 


Special Tours

Guastavino at the BPL Tours
Thursdays and Saturdays at 2:00 pm
through February 23, 2013
Central Library in Copley Square

Guided tours of the gallery exhibition Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces will be followed by a special library tour featuring stunning examples of Guastavino vaulting throughout the building.

The hour-long tours are free and open to the public. No reservations required. Meet in the Palaces for the People exhibition, located in the Changing Exhibits Gallery. For more information, please contact us at tours@bpl.org or 617-859-2373.


Lowell Lecture series logoLowell Lecture Series

Central Library, Rabb Lecture Hall

The 2012-2013 Lowell Lecture Series: Common Ground celebrates public spaces and their creators, chroniclers, and communities of users. The Lowell Lecture series is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute, established in 1836 with the specific mission of making great ideas accessible to all people, free of charge.

David Macaulay
Architectural illustrator and author of The Way Things Work and Building Big
Thursday, October 11, 2012 • 6:00 pm

Robert Campbell and Peter Vanderwarker
Authors of Cityscapes of Boston
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 • 6:00 pm

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Judge Douglas Woodlock
On the building of the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 • 6:00 pm

John Ochsendorf
MIT professor and curator of Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 • 6:00 pm

Maya Lin
Architect of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial
Thursday, January 24, 2013 • 6:00 pm

Janet Marie Smith
Architect of the Fenway Park restoration
Thursday, March 7, 2013 • 6:00 pm


2013 Programs

Lego Building Class: Create Your Own Public Space! A four-week Lego class for children and teens. Participants will build a public space, a park, a subway station, or a sports stadium. Led by Children’s Technology Workshop Boston. Registration is required.

Tierney Learning Center: Tuesdays, beginning January 9, 2013

Boston Neighborhoods: People, Place, and Planning: Urban planner and MIT alum James Madden will discuss how people, place, and planning interacted throughout history to create the city that we know today.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 6:00 pm

Credit: SmartDestinations on FlickrAnnual Druker Lecture: Celebrating Art and Design: Elizabeth Diller is a founding principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an interdisciplinary design studio whose work includes the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the High Line in New York. This lecture was videotaped and is available online.

Central Library, Abbey Room: Saturday, January 12, 2013 3:00 pm

Incombustible Construction: Guastavino’s Fireproof Vaults in Context: This lecture, given by independent scholar Sara E. Wermiel, will present the history of systems of fireproof floor construction used in the United States and how Guastavino’s system compared with the alternatives when it was introduced.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 6:00 pm

Joe Gallo and Public Art: The author of Boston Bronze & Stone Speak to Uswill present a slide show and discussion of public art in Boston.

Adams: Monday, February 11, 2013 6:30 pm
Faneuil: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 6:30 pm
South End: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 6:30 pm

Boston’s Chinatown: Beyond Stereotypes, Food and Boundaries: Former MIT professor Tunney Lee discusses Boston’s Chinatown and how it has survived despite the Chinese Exclusion Act and many attempts to remove it.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 6:00 pm

power_station_thumbMilestones in Boston’s Electrical Engineering History: Since 1990, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has honored milestones in electrical engineering, electronics and computing. To showcase the city’s groundbreaking contributions in these fields, IEEE’s Boston Section has installed plaques throughout the greater Boston area marking the locations where this history was made. Gilmore Cooke is a professional engineer and Chair of the History and Milestones Committee of the IEEE Boston Section.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 6:00pm

Richard A. Johnson, Curator of the Sports Museum at TD Garden: Mr. Johnson has authored and edited numerous books on a variety of sports topics, including histories of each of Boston’s four major sports franchises as well as the Boston Braves, Boston Garden, Boston Marathon, and a century of Boston sports.

Adams, A History of Fenway Park: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 6:30 pm

The Harbor Islands—Boston’s Unique Neighborhood: One of Boston’s most noted archaeologists, Ellen Berkland, presents the history of this very unique neighborhood.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 6:00pm

kings_handbook_thumbBeing a Genealogy Detective for Harbor Islands Stories: Suzanne Gall Marsh will share stories of the Boston Harbor Islands including Portuguese fishermen who floated their homes from Long Island to Peddocks Island and other little known stories about the Harbor Islands. Ms. Marsh is the founder of Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands and is a program facilitator at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program at UMass Boston and a seasonal ranger/interpreter with the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 6:00pm

The West End: From Early Immigration to Urban Excess: James Campano and Duane Lucia of the West End Museum will present a broad look at an important American urban neighborhood from the seventeenth century to the present time.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:00 pm

The “Memoir Project”: Recording the Memoirs of Boston’s Seniors: Staff from the Memoir Project, which has gathered senior citizens from Boston neighborhoods to write down their personal memories, will speak about the techniques they use for gathering and writing oral histories.

Central Library, Orientation Room: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 6:00 pm

 


2012 Programs

Lego Building Class: Create Your Own Public Space! A four-week Lego class for children and teens. Participants will build a public space, a park, a subway station, or a sports stadium. Led by Children’s Technology Workshop Boston. Registration is required.

Hyde Park: Mondays, beginning October 1, 2012
East Boston: Thursdays, beginning October 4, 2012
Honan-Allston: Tuesdays, beginning October 16, 2012
Central Library, Teen Room: Wednesdays, beginning October 17, 2012
Fields Corner: Fridays, beginning November 9, 2012

Richard A. Johnson, Curator of the Sports Museum at TD Garden: Mr. Johnson has authored and edited numerous books on a variety of sports topics, including histories of each of Boston’s four major sports franchises as well as the Boston Braves, Boston Garden, Boston Marathon, and a century of Boston sports.

Brighton, A History of Fenway Park: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Faneuil, A History of the Boston Garden, Fenway Park, and Braves Field: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
West End, A History of Boston Garden: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Joe Gallo and Public Art: The author of Boston Bronze & Stone Speak to Uswill present a slide show and discussion of public art in Boston.

Roslindale: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
 
 

Renewed Momentum in the Heart of Downtown Boston: Learn the latest about developments in Downtown Crossing. Rosemarie Sansone is the President of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District Corporation (BID), a non-profit organization made up of over 500 property and business owners committed to achieving downtown’s full potential as a premier economic center and a vibrant mixed use neighborhood. Credit: brx0 on Flickr

West End: Thursday, October 18, 2012 6:30 pm

Screening and discussion of the film The Conservation of Matter: The Rise and Fall of Boston’s Elevated: Filmmaker Tim Wright will answer questions after the showing of this award-winning film which traces the fate of the 100,000 tons of steel from the Boston Elevated Subway (demolished and removed from Washington Street in 1987).

Central Library, Rabb Lecture Hall: Thursday, October 25, 2012 6:00 pm
Connolly: Monday, November 19, 2012 6:00 pm

Panel Discussion: Orange Line Photographers: David Akiba and Lou Jones, two of the five photographers involved with the project to document Boston’s elevated Orange Line rail system prior to the elevated’s demolition in 1987, will discuss their photos and their experiences capturing these neighborhoods in transition.

Central Library, Commonwealth Salon: Thursday, November 1, 2012 6:00 pm

The Friends of the Public Garden: Four Decades of Public-Private Partnership: Elizabeth Vizza is the Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden, a nonprofit partner with the City of Boston Parks Department dedicated since 1970 to caring for Boston’s first public parks.

West End: Thursday, November 1, 2012 6:30 pm

Boston in the Gilded Age: Exhibition Tour and Lecture: Attend a viewing of the exhibition Boston in the Gilded Age: Mapping Public Places, curated by Stephanie Cyr, and lecture by Alex Krieger, Constructing an Egalitarian Landscape.

Central Library, Leventhal Map Center: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 5:30 pm

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Open House: Enjoy an afternoon of hands-on activities for children including map-themed puzzles, word games, origami, and bookmark –making, and guided tours of Boston in the Gilded Age: Mapping Public Places, an exhibition of 30 maps, prints and photographs that highlights the emergence of Boston’s park system and of Back Bay as the City’s cultural hub.

Central Library, Leventhal Map Center: Saturday, December 1, 2012 1:00 pm

The Grandest Boulevard: Commonwealth Avenue Mall: Margaret Pokorny discusses the history and master plan for the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, a grand allée of shade trees forming the central axis of the Back Bay and connecting the Public Garden to the Back Bay Fens.

Central Library, Commonwealth Salon: Thursday, December 13, 2012 6:00 pm

 


Monday Night Film Series: Boston Scenery Cinema

Central Library, Rabb Lecture Hall

Portrait of Jennie (1948, 86 minutes)
Monday, September 10, 6:00 pm

The Bostonians (1984, 122 minutes)
Monday, September 17, 6:00 pm

The Box (2009, 115 minutes)
Monday, September 24, 6:00 pm

Pink Panther 2 (2009, 92 minutes)
Monday, October 1, 6:00 pm


Slideshows and Selected Images

Browse images of Boston’s history in our collections on Flickr.