Wicked Good Guide to Bizarro Boston /


Compiled by Adam Gaffin

Share your opinions of these bizarro attractions - click on the "Comment" links below. Is something missing from the list? Report it.

L Street Brownies

L Street, South Boston

These are a bunch of mainly 50-something guys who run into Dorchester Bay every New Year's Day clad only in tiny bathing suits. You can find them at the L Street Bathhouse, built by the immortal James Michael Curley.

L Street Brownies photos

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Museum of Bad Art

580 High St., Dedham

Basically a one-note joke, but a very funny one. Located in the basement of an old theater in Dedham Center, it consists of spectacularly bad paintings, all leading to the men's room. A couple blocks down High Street is the Norfolk County Courthouse, where Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death.

Web site

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Our own unit of measurement

Harvard Bridge

MIT students used to have a problem. Returning home from a night of carousing in Boston via the Harvard Bridge (which doesn't go to Harvard), they found it hard to tell far away they were from the MIT campus whenever the fog descended on the Charles River basin.

In 1958, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity solved the problem by marking off the Harvard Bridge with one Oliver Smoot, a pledge. They picked him up, marked off another Smoot, and continued until done - learning in the process that the bridge was exactly 364.4 smoots and an ear. Today, the bridge is annually re-marked every 10 smoots.

More on smoots

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The Plywood Palace

Clarendon Street and St. James Place, Back Bay


The John Hancock Building is Boston's tallest, at 60 stories. Today, it's a sleek, glass rhomboid. But it was briefly the world's tallest plywood builing. Shortly after its construction in 1975, its windows began falling out. This posed something of a problem given that that building was all glass - and each window weighed 500 pounds. Until they could figure out the problem, engineers replaced all the windows with plywood.

In 1988, Paul Tavilla of Arlington got into the Guinness Book of World Records by using his mouth to catch a grape tossed off the top of the Hancock.

Builder Faced Bigger Crisis Than Falling Windows - Robert Campbell's Pulitzer-winning history of the building's problems.

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The exact center of the universe

Washington Street at Filene's, Downtown Crossing

Everybody knows Boston is the Hub of the Universe. Few people, however, know that the exact center of the Universe is located just outside the entrance to Filene's and Filene's Basement. Walk about 15 feet away from the Washington Street entrance, then look down to your left. Underneath what now appears to be a storage area, you'll see part of the plaque commemorating the location - lord only knows why Filene's felt compelled to cover it up.

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The skinny house

Narrow minded

44 Hull St., North End

No long sofas here!

It's only ten feet wide and was supposedly built out of spite to block the view of the people behind it.

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Warren Anatomical Museum

10 Shattuck St., Longwood Medical Area, Roxbury

Ever wonder what the skull of somebody who's had a 13-pound, 3 1/2-foot long spike blown through his head might look like? Find out at this Harvard museum, which has said skull. It's just one of 13,000 medical curios the museum has collected since the early 1800's.

Museum Web site

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