Boston History

This series on Boston history and landmarks was produced in 2022.

The Last Tenement building in Boston’s West End is a remnant of a working-class neighborhood erased by urban renewal. Local historian Jim Vrabel and former West End resident Jim Campano explain the history of the building, the destruction of the neighborhood and the lasting effect it had on the people that were displaced.

Many of Boston’s Black abolitionists lived on Beacon Hill – one of the largest free Black communities of the 19th century. Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson, historian-in-residence at the Museum of African American History, discusses some of these leaders and the impact they made on the city and the abolition movement as a whole.

The Madonna, Queen of the Universe Shrine is a hidden gem in East Boston with views overlooking the city and the airport. The original statue also stands on a hill – overlooking Rome, Italy. Both statues were created as gifts to the order of priests who sheltered Jewish sculptor Arrigo Minerbi from the Nazis during World War II.

Neon Williams has been servicing and creating neon signs around Boston since 1934. When long-time customer Dave Waller heard the Williams brothers were retiring in 2018, he bought the shop. Now Dave, his wife Lynn and their staff continue the legacy of delivering high-quality neon to the area.

Ghost signs can be found across the Greater Boston area, serving as a reminder of the city’s history. Dave Brigham explains the appeal of finding and researching these glimpses into the past.

Erasmus Darwin Leavitt Jr. is a forgotten Boston hero – his steam pumping engine saved the city from a potential crisis as population soared rapidly in the 1880s.