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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.






No other answer but from the mouth of his cannon (episode 146)

Boston and Quebec City share a deeply intertwined history that goes back to the earliest days of English settlement in North America. Puritan Boston could hardly stand the idea that their closest European neighbor was a Catholic colony, and they made many attempts to drive the hated French from the continent. To defeat the French, the New Englanders would have to take fortresses at Louisbourg, Quebec, and Montreal. We recently talked about the 1745 siege of Louisbourg, but this week we’re...


Boston’s Dark Days and Eclipses (episode 145)

The brilliant sunsets and dramatic weather reports inspired by smoke drifting into our area from Canadian wildfires last month got me thinking about two past HUB History shows. There have been at least three smoke events in Boston history that caused darkness in the middle of the day and made people wonder if the end of the world was coming. Our first clip will be about the dark days in 1780, 1881, and in 1950. Of course, people who witnessed dark days compared them to solar eclipses. Our...


Aeroplane Fever (episode 144)

Sky Jockeys, Knights of the Air, and Man-Birds were just a few of the terms that newspapers around the country used to describe the early aviators who converged on Boston in September 1910. The first Harvard-Boston Aero Meet was the largest and most exciting air show that the world had ever seen, and it left Boston gripped by a bad case of aeroplane fever. Famous pilots from the US and around the world, including even Wilbur Wright, would compete for cash prizes in a number of categories,...


The Secret Tunnels of Boston’s North End (episode 143)

If you’ve ever taken a walking tour of Boston’s North End, or if you’ve talked to the old timers in the neighborhood, you’ve probably heard stories about the network of so-called secret pirate tunnels or smugglers’ tunnels that connects the wharves to the basements of houses, Old North Church, and even crypts in Copp’s Hill burying ground. Sometimes the tunnels are attributed to a Captain Gruchy, who’s often called a pirate or a smuggler, and who is portrayed as a shadowy figure. It...


The Cessna Strafer (episode 142)

This week, our show brings you the story of what might be the only example of someone “going postal” in the air. We’re discussing a bizarre 1989 incident involving a North Shore man, a veteran and postal worker. Alfred J Hunter III had always wanted to be a pilot, and thirty years ago this summer, he got the chance. He murdered his ex-wife, stole a plane at gunpoint, and then flew around shooting up the city of Boston with an assault rifle. Support us: Full...


Annexation and Perambulation (episode 141)

This week’s show revisits two classic HUB History episodes that are all about the boundaries of the city of Boston. First, we’ll go back to a show that originally aired last January to learn why independent towns like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Charlestown were eager to be annexed into the city of Boston in the mid- to late-19th century, and we’ll examine why Boston hasn’t annexed any other municipalities since Hyde Park in 1912. Of course, once you make the boundaries of the city bigger by...


Fifteen Blocks of Rage (episode 140)

For decades, a 1967 riot that rocked Roxbury’s Grove Hall neighborhood was generally referred to in the mainstream media as a "race riot" or as "the welfare riot," while a handful of articles and books by Black authors called it "the police riot." A group of mostly African American women who led a group called Mothers for Adequate Welfare were staging a sit-in protest at a welfare office on Blue Hill Avenue. When tensions escalated, the police stormed in and used force to remove the group....


Founding the Boston Symphony Orchestra (episode 139)

Boston has long been known as the Hub of the Universe, but it’s also a hub of world class arts institutions. One of those institutions is the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This week, we’re looking at the founding of the BSO and the construction of its iconic home, Symphony Hall. We’ll discuss the characters that brought the BSO and Symphony Hall to life, as well as the remarkable features of the concert hall, known for its near-perfect acoustics. Full show notes:


Hooker Day in Boston (episode 138)

Hooker Day was a one-time holiday celebrated in Boston in 1903. While it might sound like this is going to be an X-rated podcast, we’re not talking about that kind of hooker. Civil War General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker was briefly the commander of the main Union force called the Army of the Potomac. Forty years after his command, he was immortalized with a massive statue in front of our State House. When the statue was dedicated, the entire city celebrated a holiday that was called...


ED Leavitt, Fresh Water, and Steam Power (episode 137)

For centuries before the Quabbin reservoir opened, Boston struggled to provide enough clean, fresh water for its growing population. One of the solutions to this problem was a new reservoir built at Chestnut Hill in the 1880s. The pumping station at this reservoir was home to enormous steam powered pumping engines, and it’s preserved today as the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum. Eric Peterson joins us this week to talk about the history of Boston’s water supply, steam power, and a brilliant...


Boston Marriages in Literature and Life (episode 136)

A new form of relationship arose between 19th century women, which had all the emotional trappings of romantic love, but was long considered to be merely an intense form of friendship. More recently, however, critics have wondered whether Victorian assumptions about the inherent chasteness of womankind allowed couples who would consider themselves lesbians today to hide in plain sight. These relationships came to be known as “Boston marriages,” both because a number of high profile...


The Underground Railroad on Boston Harbor (episode 135)

In the 19th century, a network of abolitionists and sympathizers in Boston helped enslaved African Americans find their way to freedom in the Northern states or Canada. It’s a topic we’ve talked about before, but this time there’s a twist. We’re going to be examining how Boston’s position as an important port city changed the dynamic of seeking freedom. Jake sat down with National Park Service ranger Shawn Quigley to discuss how the underground railroad ran right through Boston Harbor....


Love is Love: John Adams and Marriage Equality (episode 134)

15 years ago, the landmark case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health granted marriage rights to same-sex couples in Massachusetts. The November 18, 2003, decision was the first by a U.S. state’s highest court to find that same-sex couples had the right to marry, and it was grounded in the language of equal justice that John Adams wrote into our state constitution. Despite numerous attempts to delay the ruling, and to reverse it, the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex...


A Genuine, Bonafide, Non-Electrified Monorail! (episode 133)

You may think taking the T is painful today, but back in the days of horsedrawn streetcars, public transportation was slow, inefficient, and frequently snarled in downtown traffic. In the 1880s, proposals for elevated railways and subways competed for attention as Boston’s rapid transit solution. Then, an ambitious inventor stormed the scene with a groundbreaking proposal for a monorail. He even went as far as building a mile long track in East Cambridge, showing that the monorail worked....


Taking Louisbourg, the Gibraltar of North America (episode 132)

This week’s show is about the namesake of the famous Louisbourg Square on Beacon Hill, an astonishing 1745 military victory won by a Massachusetts volunteer army made up of farmers, seamen, and merchants. After war broke out with France the year before, Governor William Shirley proposed a daring plan to attack the French fortress of Louisbourg. Located on Cape Breton Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, Louisbourg was considered impregnable. Through a combination of luck, good leadership,...


Love Behind Enemy Lines (episode 131)

We’re trying something new this week by bringing in a guest for our upcoming historical event segment. Clara Silverstein from Historic Newton tells us about their “Crossing Borders” series. Sticking with the theme, our show this week recounts a romance between young lovers that crossed enemy lines and political allegiances, uniting patriot Billy Tudor and loyalist Delia Jarvis. Even as the Revolutionary War began and Boston was besieged, Billy risked everything and swam across the harbor...


Harnessing the Power of Boston's Tides (episode 130)

This week, we interview Earl Taylor, president of the Dorchester Historical Society and one of the founders of the Tide Mill Institute. He tells us how early Bostonians harnessed the power of the tides in Boston Harbor to grind their grain, manufacture products like snuff and spices, and even produce baby carriages. Plus, he shows us the advantages tidal power had over other types of mills, how tide mills shaped the landscape of Boston, and why tide mills went out of fashion.


The Miracle of Ether (episode 129)

Among the many medical breakthroughs that are attributed to Boston, surgical anesthesia is among the most impactful. It’s hard to overstate the importance in medical history of ether for the treatment of pain, particularly for those undergoing surgical procedures. Many believe that this technique was pioneered at MGH under the famous Ether Dome, but history tells us a different origin story. Full show notes: Support us on Patreon:


Lincoln and Booth and Boston (episode 128)

This episode is being released on April 14, 2019, which means that Abraham Lincoln was shot 154 years ago today. That’s why we’re talking about the links between the Lincoln assassination and the city of Boston. President Lincoln, his assassin John Wilkes Booth, and Boston Corbett, the man who killed Booth, all had transformative experiences in Boston. Full show notes: Support us on Patreon:


Marathon Women (episode 127)

The Boston Marathon was first run in April of 1897, after Bostonians were inspired by the revival of the marathon for the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens. It is the oldest continuously running marathon, arguably the most prestigious, and the second longest continuously running footrace in North America, having debuted five months after the Buffalo Turkey Trot. Women were not allowed to officially enter the Boston Marathon until 1972. In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to run the...