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The weekly show where two Boston history buffs tell their favorite stories from Boston history.

The weekly show where two Boston history buffs tell their favorite stories from Boston history.
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The weekly show where two Boston history buffs tell their favorite stories from Boston history.






When Darkness Veiled the Sky (episode 85)

This week’s show relates three incidents across three centuries when daytime turned to darkness in the skies over Boston. They weren’t solar eclipses. Instead, they were a different natural phenomenon, one that was completely unpredictable and each time led to speculation that the end of the world was at hand. Show notes:


The Broad Street Riot (episode 84)

The Broad Street Riot of 1837 was one of Boston's many historical melees. This one took place when a company of Yankee firefighters ran into an Irish funeral. Despite our reputation as a coastal liberal enclave, Boston has a history of hostility towards newcomers. When Irish immigrants began arriving in our harbor en masse, Yankee nativists welcomed them with violence and prejudice. Before long, a funeral procession in the wrong place at the wrong time led to a brawl with well over 10,000...


Wicked Proud (episode 83)

It's Pride Week in Boston, so we're bringing you the story of Boston's first Pride parade. While most early Pride celebrations were joyous occasions, Boston's 1971 Pride parade was a protest march. Inspired by Stonewall, activists confronted representatives of religion, policing, and government. Show notes:


Bathing Beauty Baffles Bashful Boston (episode 82)

We’re taking you to the beach for Memorial Day weekend. 111 years ago, champion swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on Revere Beach. Her crime? Appearing in public in a one piece bathing suit of her own design. Along with being a record setting swimmer, Kellerman was a fitness and wellness guru, a vaudeville producer, movie actress, and a clothing designer. Besides her athletic prowess, she was known for her physical beauty, appearing in Hollywood’s first nude scene. A Harvard professor...


The Sacred Cod (episode 81)

Meet the Sacred Cod, a five foot long wooden fish, carved and painted to resemble a cod. The mighty cod holds great prominence in Massachusetts history, as cod fishing was the first industry practiced by Europeans in the region. For perhaps 270 years or more, the Sacred Cod has served as a sort of mascot for the state House of Representatives, except for two days in 1933, when it went inexplicably missing. Show notes:


Pirate Classics (episode 80)

Arrrr, matey! Nikki and I are running a pirate themed relay race on Cape Cod this weekend instead of recording a new episode, so of course we’re going to play three classic pirate stories this week. The first two clips will highlight the role Boston played in the golden age of piracy, while the third discusses Puritan minister Cotton Mather’s complicated relationship with the pirates whose execution he oversaw. Listen now! Show notes:


The Battle of Jamaica Plain (episode 79)

What started as a simple holdup in a bar in Jamaica Plain in 1908 soon turned into a bloody battle, as a small group of radical anarchists engaged hundreds of Boston Police officers in a series of running gun fights across the neighborhood. The shootouts and a bloody siege at Forest Hills Cemetery left a total of 11 wounded and two dead. Most of the suspects escaped, only to be killed years later by British soldiers on the streets of London under the command of Winston Churchill himself....


Organized Crime Classics (Episode 78)

Boston’s history with gangsters and goons goes far beyond the legacy of Whitey Bulger. This week we’re featuring three stories from our back catalog about very different aspects of organized crime in Boston. We’ll be discussing Charles “King” Solomon’s reign in the South End, the Tong War’s place in Chinatown history, and the Brinks Robbery in the North End, known as the crime of the century. Show notes:


Tent City (Episode 77)

50 years ago this week, residents of one Boston neighborhood carried out an act of civil disobedience, bringing attention to the city’s need for affordable housing. A group of mostly African American residents occupied an empty lot where rowhouses once stood. It was Boston’s 1968 Tent City protest, and it helped change how the city approaches development and urban planning. Show notes:


Paul Revere's Not-So-Famous Rides (Ep76)

In honor of Patriots Day and the anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous ride, we are focusing on some of Paul Revere’s less famous rides this week. When Paul Revere set out to warn the Provincial Congress that the British Regulars were coming in April of 1775, it wasn’t his first gig as an express rider for the patriots. For almost three years, he had been carrying messages from the Boston Committee of Correspondence on horseback to patriots in New York, Philadelphia, New Hampshire, and...


Pope's Night, Remastered (Ep75)

This week, we’re revisiting the bizarre holiday known as Pope’s Night that was celebrated in early Boston. Having evolved out of the British observation of Guy Fawkes Day, Boston took the event to extremes. The virulently anti-Catholic colonists in our town held festive bonfires, parades, and plenty of drinking. Almost every year, the celebration would lead to massive street fights and riots that sometimes turned deadly, all to commemorate a thwarted plot against the British Parliament....


Original Sin: The Roots of Slavery in Boston (Ep74)

The Boston slave trade began when a ship arrived in the harbor in the summer of 1638 carrying a cargo of enslaved Africans, but there was already a history of slave ownership in the new colony. After this early experience, Massachusetts would continue to be a slave owning colony for almost 150 years. In this week’s episode, we discuss the origins of African slavery in Massachusetts and compare the experience of enslaved Africans to other forms of unfree labor in Boston, such as enslaved...


The Great Molasses Flood, Remastered (Ep73)

This week we’re revisiting Boston’s great Molasses Flood, the subject of one of our earliest podcasts. We’re giving you an update, now that our technology, research, and storytelling skills have improved. Stay tuned for tales of rum, anarchists, and the speed of molasses in January. It’s not slow! Show notes:


Rat Day (Ep72)

The Boston Women’s Municipal League was a civic organization made up of mostly middle and upper class women, at a time when most women didn’t work outside the home. In 1915, they declared war on rats. Over the next few years, Women's Municipal League published literature on eradicating rats, carried out an extensive education campaign, and in 1917 hosted a city-wide Rat Day with cash prizes for the citizens who killed the most rats. Show notes:


The Curious Case of Phineas Gage (Ep71)

In 1848, railroad worker Phineas Gage suffered an unusual injury, in which a three foot tamping iron was blown through his skull, making him on of the greatest medical curiosities of all time. We’ll discuss his time in Boston, his life post-injury, and the impact of his case on modern neuroscience. Content warning: The details of Gage’s accident and injury are a little gory. Show notes:


Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, with Ryan Walsh (Ep70)

This week, Ryan Walsh joins us to discuss Boston in 1968, the James Brown concert that might have prevented a riot, a cult that took over Roxbury’s Fort Hill, the strange history of LSD in our city, and a musical movement called the Bosstown Sound. Most of all, though, we will discuss his book Astral Weeks, a Secret History of 1968 and the Van Morrison record that inspired it. Show notes:


Picturing the South End, with Lauren Prescott (Ep69)

We’re joined this week by Lauren Prescott, the executive director of the South End Historical Society and author of a new book simply titled "Boston’s South End." It’s part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Postcard History Series,” and it features hundreds of images from the South End Historical Society’s collection of historic postcards dating from the 1860s to the mid 20th century. Show notes:


The Execution that Almost Killed the Death Penalty (Ep68)

In 1848, a murder case nearly brought an end to the death penalty in Massachusetts. When a young black man named Washington Goode was convicted of first degree murder that year, there hadn’t been an execution in Boston for 13 years. White men who had been convicted of the same crime had their sentences commuted to a life in prison, and tens of thousands of petitions poured in asking the governor to do the same thing for Goode. Yet even so, he was sent to the gallows. Why? Show notes:...


Classics: Boston Resists the Fugitive Slave Act (Ep67)

We used our studio time this week to record something special that will air next month. Without a new episode, we didn’t want to leave you without any HUB History this week. Instead, here are three classic episodes honoring black and white abolitionists in 19th Century Boston. Recorded last February, in the wake of President Trump’s attempt to implement a “Muslim Ban,” these episodes focus on Boston’s resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act, which was seen as an unjust law. Show notes:...


Cotton Mather REALLY Hated Pirates (Ep66)

This week, we’re talking about the conflict between Puritans and pirates in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Cotton Mather is remembered for his role in the Salem Witch Trials, but he was the childhood minister to Ben Franklin, ultimate symbol of the American Enlightenment, and he died less than fifty years before our Declaration of Independence was signed. In a way, Mather was one of the last Puritans, and some of his most famous sermons are the ones he wrote for mass executions of...