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Old 06-21-2017, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Northern United States
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In Boston(and New England in general), there seems to be a lack of pre-WW2 high rises outside of downtown/core areas. Numerous other cities throughout the country, like Indianapolis, Kansas City, St Louis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, etc have pre-WW2 high rises outside of their main downtown areas. The only 10+ story building from pre-WW2 outside of the downtown/core area of Boston is the one that I believe is in Kendall Square. Not trying to bring Boston down or anything, just wondering what would've lead to there being a lack of those type of buildings in the Boston area?
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Old 06-21-2017, 11:24 AM
 
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Perhaps most of those areas were already pre-developed with 2 and 3 story homes? I believe most of Somerville and Cambridge was built out between the wars with mostly 2 and 3 story homes.
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Old 06-21-2017, 12:55 PM
 
Location: Florida and New England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northeasterner1970 View Post
In Boston (and New England in general), there seems to be a lack of pre-WW2 high rises outside of downtown/core areas. Numerous other cities throughout the country, like Indianapolis, Kansas City, St Louis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, etc have pre-WW2 high rises outside of their main downtown areas. The only 10+ story building from pre-WW2 outside of the downtown/core area of Boston is the one that I believe is in Kendall Square. Not trying to bring Boston down or anything, just wondering what would've lead to there being a lack of those type of buildings in the Boston area?
I'm assuming your Kansas City reference means the 10-to-20-story highrise apartment buildings near the CC Plaza and along Armour Boulevard. These were built during the 1920s boom (as was the whole Plaza district). I think the lack of such buildings in "outer" Boston has to do with the fact that the neighborhoods were already largely built out by the 1920s. There are a few analogous structures -- in both Back Bay and near the Fens you can find a few of these large apartment buildings.

High-rise structures were not commonplace until steel construction was perfected (research the Monadnock Building in Chicago for an explanation), around the turn of the century. Since Boston was largely in-filled by that time, there was little reason to demolish, say, a residential structure from the 1880s that had only been standing for 25 years. But outer neighborhoods like KC's Plaza or St. Louis' Central West End were greenfields at the time of initial development. Why not go big?
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Old 06-22-2017, 11:59 AM
 
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Boston was already pretty filled in and dense in the early 1900's, so when high-rises came into existence, there really wasn't a whole lot of space to put them unless you took some buildings down. A lot of the surrounding areas were being filled with newly built triple-deckers built up in the 1890's-1920's. North end is filled with 1880-1900's built triple deckers, and I would think it wouldn't make sense to tear down these "new" buildings.


IIRC, the downtown area was filled with a lot of older, early/mid 1800's buildings that were town down through the 40's and 50's. The timing was just right to invest some money in this area.




Here are some photos of the downtown area from 1923 and 1934 according to my notes.


1923



1934

Last edited by BostonMike7; 06-22-2017 at 12:09 PM..
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Old 06-22-2017, 12:15 PM
 
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Same general area as above dating 1928. As you can see.....fairly dense. East Boston in the distance...pre logan airport


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Old 06-22-2017, 12:18 PM
 
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Over the bullfinch triangle, looking out at Cambridge/Charlestown circa 1928


I sourced these last two photos from this website. Probable where I sourced the first two photos from years ago when I was into historical pics of Boston and surrounding areas.


1900 - 1949 Photos - NorthEndWaterfront.com




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Old 06-22-2017, 02:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BostonMike7 View Post
Over the bullfinch triangle, looking out at Cambridge/Charlestown circa 1928


I sourced these last two photos from this website. Probable where I sourced the first two photos from years ago when I was into historical pics of Boston and surrounding areas.


1900 - 1949 Photos - NorthEndWaterfront.com
"Fairly dense"? That is as dense as it ever gets! I commented in another thread that a person visiting the Blackstone Block could imagine how medieval it must have been before all the highway construction and urban renewal of the 50s and 60s, and these photos prove the point-- a dense forest of narrow meandering streets packed tight with buildings. The blackstone block is but a remnant of that 'medieval' Boston landscape that now can only be sensed in the North End.

Not sure what any of this has to do with prewar high rises outside of the downtown area, or what kinds of high rises the OP has in mind. It is worth pointing out that Boston had few prewar high rises even in the core area. The most prominent one, the Custom House Tower, was possible only because it was US government property and therefore immune to Boston's municipal height restrictions, which were relaxed at some point maybe just after WWII. Some would say, especially at that time, that Back Bay was outside the core area, and if so then the John Hancock and New England Mutual Life buildings, both built in the 1940s, qualify as high rises outside the core area.
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Old 06-22-2017, 10:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BostonMike7 View Post
North end is filled with 1880-1900's built triple deckers,
N End has triple deckers, what???
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Old 06-23-2017, 07:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by massnative71 View Post
N End has triple deckers, what???

Mental slip. My family owned one years ago that happened to be 3-floors. I was referring to this style construction where if you take a stroll through the neighborhood, you'll see a lot of dates on the buildings in that 1880-1910 range. But yes, not a triple-decker


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Old 06-27-2017, 11:06 PM
 
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Boy was Boston ugly back in those pics, Jesus
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