Boston Public Library
Exhibitions

Tourist Trades

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In the heyday of the early twentieth century’s postcard craze, people around the country preserved their cards in padded albums that adorned parlors and sunrooms. These collectors’ albums were a great source of entertainment and pride in almost every American home. Tourists dutifully kept in touch with friends and relatives by sending piles of inexpensive postcards along the route; not only were frequent cards expected, but travelers were considered outright neglectful if they did not send cards regularly. Much of the news conveyed was short and rather mundane: health updates, social plans, and daily activities. Postcards provided an inexpensive and convenient way to keep in touch without the burden of extensive writing and with the added benefit of providing a new card for the collector’s album.

These vintage views of famous sites and iconic institutions represent some of the most popular local attractions – and postcard subjects – in the city, both then and now.

  1. Fenway Park
  2. Beloved Fenway Park has served as the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox baseball team since it opened in 1912. It is the oldest Major League Basebal stadium currently in use and also the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States.

    Red Sox warming up at Fenway Park, Boston, Mass. [front]

  3. Museum of Fine Arts
  4. Founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts moved in 1909 from its original site on Copley Square to its current location on Huntington Avenue. Attracting over one million visitors annually, it is one of the largest art museums in the United States and houses over 450,000 works in its collections.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass. [front]

  5. Symphony Hall
  6. Designed by McKim, Mead and White, the architectural firm responsible for the Boston Public Library’s Copley Square building, Symphony Hall was constructed in 1900 for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was the first auditorium designed in accordance with scientifically-derived acoustical principles and is widely regarded as one of the three finest concert halls in the world.

    Boston, Mass. Symphony Hall. [front]

  7. Boston Public Library
  8. Founded in 1848, the Boston Public Library is the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first library to open a branch system, and the first to provide a dedicated children’s room. The present Copley Square location has been home to the BPL since 1895, when architect Charles Follen McKim completed his “palace for the people.” It is the third largest library in the country, with holdings totaling more than 16 million items.

    Public Library, Boston Mass. [front]

  9. Trinity Church
  10. After its former site burned in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, Trinity Church reopened on Copley Square in 1877. The church and parish house were designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in his distinctive Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style, later adopted for many public buildings nationwide.

    The New Boston Skyline at Copley Square [front]

  11. Public Gardens
  12. The first public botanical garden in the United States, the 24-acre Public Garden was established in 1837 and laid out in 1858 in its present form. Part of the city’s Emerald Necklace, the lovely garden is noted for its elaborate plantings, lagoon, statuary, swan boats, and suspension bridge.

    The Bridge, Public Gardens, Boston, Mass. [front]

  13. State House
  14. Built in 1798, the “new” State House is located across from the Boston Common on top of Beacon Hill. Charles Bullfinch, the leading architect of the day, designed the building. Originally made out of wood shingles, the dome is now sheathed in copper and covered by 23-karat gold, added to prevent leaks into the State House.

    State House, Boston, Mass. [front]

  15. Old City Hall
  16. Located on School Street, Old City Hall was home to the Boston City Council from 1865 to 1969. Designed by Gridley James Fox Bryant and Arthur Gilman in the French Second Empire style, the building is now home to many businesses and non-profits as well as a restaurant.

    Hon. John F. Fitzgerald, Mayor of Boston. City Hall and Rear View King's Chapel, School St., Boston, Mass. [front]

  17. Faneuil Hall
  18. Faneuil Hall has served as a markpetplace and a meeting hall since 1742. Funded by wealthy Boston merchant Peter Faneuil, it was the site of several speeches by Samual Adams and others encouraging independence from England. In 1806, the hall was greatly expanded by Architect Charles Bulfinch, doubling its height and width and adding a third floor.

    Boston, Mass. In the Market District [front]

  19. Paul Revere House
  20. Constructed about 1860, the Paul Revere House in the North End is downtown Boston’s oldest building and was owned by Paul Revere from 1770 to 1800. After Revere sold the home, it became a tenement and the ground floor was remodeled for use as various shops, including a candy store, cigar factory, bank, and produce and fruit business before its preservation and renovation in 1908.

    Paul Revere House, Boston, Mass.  [front]

  21. Old North Church
  22. Officially known as Christ Church in the City of Boston, the Old North Church was built in 1723 and is the oldest standing church building in Boston. This church is the location from which the famous “One if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent by colonists during the American Revolution on April 18, 1775, to relay British troop movements to Charlestown patriots.

    Old North (Christ) Church, Copps Hill, Boston, Mass. [front]

  23. South Station
  24. South Station opened as South Central Station in 1899 and quickly became the busiest station in the country by 1910. Designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the station handled up to 125,000 passengers daily during World War II. It remains New England’s second-largest transportation center after Logan International Airport.

    South Station, Boston, Mass. [front]