Boston’s sort of an odd town. Or, it must seem that way to outsiders.
If you’re a townie or you’ve spent quite a few years in Greater Boston, then it is easy to forget about all the idiosyncrasies.
Shrug and say that’s how it’s always been. That’s the kind of city Boston is — obsessed with tradition and history.
Check out some of the unique things that make Boston both beloved and infuriating to locals. There’s plenty we’ve left out, so add yours.
Pictured: The George Washington statue in the Boston Public Garden after the snow storm. Next
Harvard Bridge is not by Harvard University
People like to play up the rivalry between the two Cambridge-based Universities, but historians say the bridge was named in 1891 after Rev. John Harvard (not the school) before MIT even moved its campus from Back Bay.
The funnier story that persists to this day is that authorities offered to name the bridge after one of the local schools. Harvard petitioned for the naming rights because it argued it was more “prestigious” and MIT, after finding the structural integrity of the bridge wanting, agreed that the bridge deserved to be named after Harvard, too.
Today, most people call it Mass Ave Bridge, anyway. Next
Dunkin’ Donuts obsession
Seriously. There are Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants across the street from each other around here. Next
There is no school on School Street
Not anymore, at least. It was the location of Boston Latin School, the first public school in the United States. Notable alums included Benjamin Franklin and Sam Adams. Next
Leif Erikson Statue
The statue on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall looks like a Viking version of “I’m a little Tea Pot.” Next
Boston cow paths
Don’t blame the cows that grazed in Boston Common for the city’s helter-skelter streets. It’s one of Boston’s biggest and enduring myths.
Blame the city’s lack of urban planning. When the English men and women here got off the boat in the 1600s, they decided where they wanted to live, and it was up to other people to make the roads. In 1857, the state filled in the marshland that later became Back Bay and implemented a grid of parallel streets. Next
No Dock at Dock Square
Another relic of Old Boston, Dock Square by Faneuil Hall used to be right on the waterfront and used to be the hub of the city. However, the city expanded and the waterfront was filled in. Next
Rubber band? Nah. Next
Back Bay streets are in alphabetical order
Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, and so on. Next
Boston sports teams actually play in Boston
More sports teams are leaving to play in larger venues outside the city. So for Boston to have the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins play at two different venues within the city, is impressive. Next
Many Beacon Hill streets named after trees
The mystery meat of the ocean. Next
Many Wellesley streets named after poets
Pictured: A plaque honoring graduate Sylvia Plath at Wellesley High School. Next
Book bound with human skin
Steps away from the Boston Common, members of the Boston Athenaeum can check out a book made from human skin.
In the early 1800s, James Allen requested that his biography be bound with his own flesh after his death in prison. Next
Boston's skinniest house, on Hull Street in the North End, is 10 feet wide, 30 feet long, and four stories high. Lore has it that it was a passive-aggressive home addition to block a neighbor’s view of the waterfront. Next
Shopping cart or carriage? Carriage. Next
Police car to everyone else. Next
Neither a traffic circle nor a roundabout. Next
There is no courthouse on Court Street
Only a few blocks remains of Court Street. But it used to be called Prison Lane and it stretched to Bowdoin Street before it was demolished in the ‘60s for Government Center. Next
The Silver Line ditch and run
On the Silver Line from Logan Airport into the city, there’s that transition period right before the hybrid bus shuts down before entering the tunnel next to the World Trade Center. Visitors unaccustomed to the shut down period while the Silver Line switches from gas to electric often get off the bus assuming it has stopped and reached its destination. That’s when the bus starts back up and drives off without them.
Welcome to Boston!
Going to the Islands
That means Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. Next
Weather on Old Hancock
John Gailius, a Control Room Operator, by the weather station on top of the old Hancock Building. John receives a call and flips the switch to the weather station there by alerting all in Boston who can see the top of the Hancock building about the current weather situation. Solid blue, clear view. Flashing blue, clouds due. Solid red, rain ahead. Flashing red, snow instead. Next
Route 128 South is I-95 South
It’s also I-93 North. Next
MBTA has three different models of trains for one system
Green Line trains won’t run anywhere except on the Green Line rails. Ditto for Red Line and Blue/Orange Lines. It’s not very efficient, but that’s because different parts of the train line were constructed at different points in history. Next
It’s the subway, it’s the ‘T’
Short for MTA. And it stops running at about 12:30 a.m. Next
Delicious. But out-of-towners are always confused by this on drink menus. (Alright, this one’s actually a Raspberry Lime Rickey from Mr. Bartley’s.) Next
Those things are just skinny hot dogs! Back to the beginning
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