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Posted by Jim Botticelli  August 21, 2013 02:17 PM

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A sparse crowd makes its way down Washington Street in 1968

It's the longest street in town. And one of the longest in the state. Washington Street starts downtown and runs all the way to Rhode Island. Circuitously at times, but it gets there. Here we see a downtown photo of "Wash", as the cabbies call it, taken in 1968 shortly after Planet of the Apes opened. The film tells the story about a space crew who crash onto a strange planet in the future. As the story evolves, the crew, thinking it had arrived at a desolate outpost, happens upon a society in which apes have evolved into humanoids possessing both intelligence and speech. These ape-humans are running the show while subservient humans are draped in animal skins.

Is the Washington Street story much different? Crash onto Washington Street today and see the New Human, males whose waistlines have devolved to crotch level, appearing disheveled like a pile of empty laundry bags, and females draped in clothing so revealing that all mystery has been removed. Body parts considered sacrosanct by their anatomical forbears, are now fodder for studs, piercings and markings on the New Human. Tongue studs, eyelid rings and body art adorn these creatures seen today on Washington Street and elsewhere. Standards of beauty change. We get that.  But that was now. This is then.

Dirty Old Boston being what it is, liked the name Washington for a street so much that it named no less than three other local streets by the same name. This typically gets a guffaw from visitors and the DOB Cynical Grimace from locals.

In Dorchester, Washington Street spans a 2.8 mile range from Blue Hill Avenue near Geneva to Dot Ave near the southernmost point of the city.

In Brighton, Washington Street begins at the Brookline line and runs for about four miles to the Newton boundary line. It continues through Newton out to Wellesley. It is the main East-West Street in Brighton.

But in Charlestown, Washington Street begins at a dead end near the intersection of Austin Street and New Rutherford Avenue and runs a mere three blocks to Harvard Street.

Happy motoring!

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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