Reverend William Blaxton (also spelled Blackstone) was the first European to settle in what is now Boston. He first arrived in 1625 and made his home on Boston Common and Beacon Hill. However, it was not long before he was sharing the central land of the Shawmut Peninsula with the Puritans. Their settlement north of Boston was not working for them, so William invited them to stay near him. Unfortunately for William, the Puritans were more strict in their spiritual beliefs than he was. Reverend Blaxton quickly moved out of Boston to the south so he could avoid Puritan tyranny.
Rumor has it that the Puritans disagreed so strongly with the Anglican Reverend that they had his house burned down. Blaxton sold them his property before heading south. It worked out to his advantage in terms of legacy. Reverend Blaxton went on to become the first European settler of what is now Rhode Island within five years of inviting the Puritans to share the Shawmut Peninsula with him.
There is nothing like a good old fashioned American roadside diner to bring out the warm fuzzies in the most curmudgeonly among us. So if you're in the middle of the big city in the middle of the night and happen upon one, you may feel like you're dreaming. The South Street Diner on Kneeland Street is just such a place. Whether you're looking for some good comfort food at dinner time or a place to recharge your batteries after a night of clubbing, you'll feel right at home here. The South Street Diner is open all night every night - from 5 pm till 5 am. The diner features a regular dinner menu along with burgers, sandwiches, subs, wraps and some great breakfasts served all night long. Beer and wine are available and one of the specialties of the house is a "Desserts of the 50's" menu featuring sweets that might conjure up memories of Arnold's Drive-In on “Happy Days”. The staff is friendly and attentive, the food is good, and prices are very reasonable. The diner is located at 178 Kneeland Street, not far from South Station. Telephone: 617-350-0028.
The Globe Corner Bookstore added another page to its illustrious history with its re-opening in May, 2006 at its new location at 90 Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square, Cambridge.
The Globe was established in 1829 as the Old Corner Bookstore at the corner of Washington and School Street where it housed the famed Ticknor and Fields publishing company. The company added "Globe" to its name when it began specializing in travel books. The store closed its downtown location in 1997 when it was driven out by high rents and declining in-town economic conditions.
In the new store, the Globe lives up to its reputation one of the best travel bookstores in North America. They stock a wide range of books and maps for the traveler - guides and literature as well as historic, topographic, road and hiking maps.
The Globe also sponsors the Adventure Travel Lecture Series, most of which are held at First Parish Church near Harvard Square. The lectures are free but reservations are recommended because these events fill up fast. The Globe is open daily and well worth a quick trip on the Red Line to get there. Telephone: 617-497-6277.
The oldest house on record in Boston is the James Blake house in the Dorchester section of the city. Blake built the house, located at 735 Columbia Road, in about 1648. He later became a prominent Bostonian, serving at various times as selectman, deputy and constable.
The Blake house is of particular significance in the history of American architecture, and is often studied by architecture students because it is believed to be the only house in the United States built using a distinct country framing technique common in West England. The house is two stories with a central chimney, a gable roof and it has a heavy timber frame.
The Blake House is also an excellent candidate for your next trivia showdown - it is thought to be the first American house ever moved from its original site in order to rescue it from demolition. The move took place in 1895 and was the first major project taken on by the newly-formed Dorchester Historical Society.
Boston's claim to fame as “The Hub of the Universe” was the work of none other than Oliver Wendall Holmes. In 1858, Holmes referred to the Massachusetts State House Building as the “Hub of the Solar System”. Bostonians liked the sound of that so the nickname, with minor modifications, stuck. When the now defunct Filenes built their flagship store at the corner of Washington and Summer Streets, a fancy bronze marker was installed to forever give credence to the name.
Robert McCloskey's book “Make Way for Ducklings” is immortalized in the Public Garden at Boston Common in the famous bronze statues of Mrs. Mallard and her young'uns. The book won the Caldecott Medal when it was written in 1941 and it has remained hugely popular ever since. “Ducklings” has never gone out of print and has sold more than two million copies. It tells the story of a pair of ducks looking for a safe place to raise their family, away from the foxes and turtles that so worry Mrs. Mallard. They like everything about the Public Garden except for the lack of food – a dilemma soon solved by the people drifting by on the famed Swan Boats who tossed them peanuts and by a kindly policeman. The book hits other familiar Boston sites – such as the Charles River, Beacon Hill, and Louisville Square and the Public Garden is a great place to take the family. To illustrate the book, McCloskey used live ducklings as models and their descendants still grace the Garden today. The sculpture was done by Nancy Schon and erected in 1987. It is set in cobblestones and spans 35 feet. The kids will love memorizing the names of the much-loved ducklings: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and Quack.