historical boston

My favorite thing about my John Adams post are the southerners and foreigners that just cannot wrap their minds around how unhealthily committed and ride or die Boston is for its sports teams.

“Why is John Adams wearing a Pats sweater?”


That’s it. That’s the answer.

When in doubt, Boston is the only explanation I can give. Historical figures are not safe. They will never be safe. Respecting the founding fathers only goes so far until you find out the Red Sox made it to the world Series. I can’t begin to stress this enough.

Every year we deck out Paul Revere in the jerseys of whatever Boston team happens to make the playoffs in their respective sport.

You think the cute little Make Way for Ducklings are safe? Nah.


Honestly, it’s best not to question anything. You’ll be happier this way.

Petitioning For Freedom: Elizabeth Freeman

Photo: Mum Bett, aka Elizabeth Freeman, aged 70. Painted by Susan Ridley Sedgwick, aged 23. Watercolor on ivory painted circa 1812. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.

“Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s earth [sic] a free woman I would.”

Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was among the first black slaves in Massachusetts to file a “freedom suit” and win in court under the 1780 constitution, with a ruling that slavery was illegal. She was prompted to file suit after hearing these words following the Revolutionary War: “All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness,” Massachusetts Constitution, Article 1.

Photo: Elizabeth Freeman statue in the historical galleries at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

Her county court case, Brom and Bett v. Ashley, decided in August 1781, was cited as a precedent in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appeal review of Quock Walker’s “freedom suit”. When the state Supreme Court upheld Walker’s freedom under the Constitution, the ruling was considered to have informally ended slavery in the state.

Learn more about African Americans that used the legal system to pursue their freedom: bit.ly/2vIyfEE

Historical Map: Test MBTA Rapid Transit Map, 1991

An unused test diagram for Boston’s rapid transit network from 1991. It attempts to name every station on the branches of the Green Line, but with the unfortunate side effect of completely dominating the design. The poor old Blue Line gets shoved into the top right, and the northern part of the Orange Line doesn’t fare much better. In short, the whole thing is hideously unbalanced, and I’m very glad that this concept didn’t advance any further.

Interestingly, the source image for this diagram is named “UK-SPIDER-MAP.jpg”, which makes me think it was designed by a British consultancy. It certainly looks more European than most North American transit maps, with thin route lines and ticked station markers. It definitely puts me more in mind of Manchester or Berlin than Boston, that’s for sure. The other clue is the use of the word “tram” to describe the Green Line… which I’m pretty certain has never been the preferred Bostonian term!

Our rating: Seriously flawed, but an interesting look at a very different approach that never went anywhere. Three stars.


natgeotravel Photos & timelapse by @babaktafreshi, The World at Night project
A while ago I posted a photo of the moonrise above the historic Boston Light (on July 9th). Some followers who are not familiar with my work questioned if it’s fake. This video and photo-sequence (swipe left for the slideshow) explains how in real life this regularly happens! See how the moon’s shape and color change as it rises, due to atmospheric refraction, causing distorted image and color shift on the horizon. The same happens to the sun. The images are made from 4 miles (6km) away using a 600mm telephoto + extender. I was far enough from the foreground that it appeared smaller than the moon, which adds to the brain perception of big moon on the horizon. Further explained on “See a Rare Red Full Moon" recently published on NatGeo.com. Google “red fullmoon natgeo” for the link.
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