Shopping Days In Retro Boston

A place to recall and celebrate the wonderful stores of a Downtown Boston now alive only in our memories

Friday 25 October 2013

Boston in the Twilight Days of 1963

Hello, My Fellow Retro Boston Lovers!

Today we look back fifty years to the last weeks of 1963.

The assassination of President Kennedy for many Americans was a moment they would never forget; a moment that time stood still. Grief, horror and total disbelief all flooding in at once...and leaving an everlasting freeze-frame in their mind of that exact moment they heard the shocking news.

Boston was hit extremely hard, President Kennedy was their hero. The local Brookline boy who rose up and became President...Boston was so proud!

Much of America was in a love with the suave young President and his charming and delightfully stylish wife. A look at the advertisements from the Boston area stores tells so can see JFK’s hairstyle or Jackie’s unique dresses everywhere. They were truly icons of the early 1960’s in every sense of the word.

Looking back to the end of 1963 in Boston is quite astonishing indeed.

The “new” Boston was taking shape for better or worse. Government Center was starting to rise up bit by bit in 1963 out the rubble that once was colorful Scollay Sqaure. The West End of Boston was now gone and the Prudential Building was looming tall above the Back Bay and nearly ready for completion by 1964.

In October of 1963, the MTA officially opened the new Government Center Station using part of the old Scollay Station and a large new section. Adams Square Station, today nearly forgotten, was closed and demolished as part of the building of the new Boston City Hall. The little used, antique station was seen outbound on-route to Haymarket Square Station only and sadly, it was considered a waste of space. A new track layout for the Green Line made the ride from the new Government Center Station to Haymarket more direct and much less scenic...gone forever were the noisy, winding curves that made a ride on the Boston subway just a bit more fun!

The assassination of President Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963 rocked the world and Boston found itself in deep mourning. The days around the tragedy were very solemn and Monday the 25th was a national day of mourning. The newspaper advertisements around this time reflect both great sadness and deep respect...the clippings speak volumes and are very moving to read.

All of our once beloved Boston stores paid tribute to the fallen President. Each tribute was simple and dignified. They paid homage and also announced closures for Monday as a memorial.  

Amidst all this sadness, another Boston Strangler murder took had been so many months since the last killing. But Boston still had a killer or killers on the loose and so the city and its surrounding suburbs resumed a high police alert.

The kick-off to the 1963 Christmas season was very gloomy indeed and Boston carried on...with a heavy heart and a lot less sparkle than usual.

I compiled a selection of retail and entertainment advertisements that give you a taste of what the latter days of 1963 in Boston was like. The memorials and tributes all ran in the various Boston newspapers from the 23 to the 25th of November 1963. The photographs were all from the end of 1963 and highlight a time of great change in Boston itself.

Another interesting item was the sad announcement that the much loved Norumbega Park was going to be torn down and developed...just another facet in the “new” look of the Boston area.

I hope you find this look back to fifty years ago both insightful and moving...I know I did.

More soon!  Charles Boston

Ps...Don't forget....I am still working on my Jordan Marsh memory project. Write me!!!!