Wicked Good Guides / Boston Cityviews /

Downtown details

One of the cool things about living in a city where many buildings are older than even your parents is the amazing display of artwork built right into the structures. The old adage "they don't make 'em like they used to" really is true when it comes to buildings in downtown Boston.

Let's go on a quick tour (you might want to stretch your neck first; many of these will require you to look up):

The old Chadwick Lead Works on High Street:

Reminders of Boston's past as a maritime and mercantile hub are everywhere downtown. For example, on the Cunard Building on State Street:

Right across the street is the Board of Trade Building. Note the presence in the second photo of both Neptune and Mercury, the god who protected merchants (and thieves):

Downtown has numerous homages to Greek and even Persian mythology.

10 High Street:

The rear of the old Boston 5 Cents Savings Bank (now Borders) in Downtown Crossing:

On Devonshire Street:

Alas, I lost the piece of paper I wrote down the location of the charming chimera below. Anybody know its location?

One odd thing I noticed when walking around downtown was the number of caduceuses on buildings. Did downtown once have a lot of hospitals? No. While the cauduceus today is a symbol of medicine, it's also the magic wand held by our old friend, Mercury, protector of merchants. So it makes sense that the Boston Stock Exchange would be decked out in them:

Guess when 120 Milk Street was built:

What would Boston be without at least one building dedicated to our very own Ben Franklin? One guess which street this bust is on:

As befits a (now former) federal courthouse and post office, the McCormack Building in Post Office Square is decked out in eagles:

Across Post Office Square, the Langham hotel (originally built as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston) honors American coinage:

Boston's not known as a center of Art Deco, but it still has a number of examples of that style downtown. 10 High Street:

75-101 Federal Street:

The former AT&T (now Verizon) building at Post Office Square:

75-101 Federal Street also has stone friezes showing frolicking animals and imps:

And let's not forget the grotesque, like this cow skull at the rear of the Boston 5 Cent Savings Bank:

Always on the lookout for especially plump Washington Street shoppers:


This is a great assortment of Boston's fine architectural details. It has inspired me to seek out some more on my own, and to contribute them to the collection. More to come. (hopefully)

Jon Allen on March 19, 2007 11:35 AM.

Post a comment

NOTE: Due to those durn spammy spammers, your comment won't show up right away - an actual human-type person has to review it first. Sorry!