HUB History-logo

HUB History

History Podcasts >

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.
More Information


United States


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






Folk Magic and Mysteries at the Fairbanks House (episode 93)

In this episode, we're joined by the curator of one of the oldest houses in North America. He'll tell us about evidence that's been uncovered that generations of residents may have believed in an ancient form of countermagic. The inhabitants of Dedham’s Fairbanks House used charms and hex marks deriving from Puritan, Catholic, and pagan religious traditions in an attempt to ward off evil forces that might have included witches, demons, and even disease. Fairbanks House Museum curator Daniel...


Bullets on the Boardwalk (episode 92)

On August 8, 1920, an epic brawl broke out on Revere Beach when police attempted to arrest a group of four disorderly sailors. In the chaos that followed, 400 sailors attempted to storm the police station to free their comrades, even stealing rifles from the beachfront shooting galleries and turning them against the police. Soldiers from nearby Fort Banks had to be called out to restore order at the point of a bayonet. It was the height of Revere Beach’s early 20th century popularity, when...


Boston’s Pickwick Disaster and the Dance of Death (episode 91)

On the evening of July 3, 1925, Boston’s Pickwick nightclub collapsed while couples packed the dance floor. Dozens were trapped in the rubble, while firefighters, police, and laborers worked desperately to free them. In the end, 44 people were killed and many more were injured. A rumor circulated that the disaster had been caused by a popular dance called the Charleston. This fake news soon became one of the most viral stories of the newspaper era, causing many cities to ban couples from...


Love that Dirty Water (episode 90)

For many people, summertime in Boston means canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, and even swimming in the rivers that run through and around our city. To celebrate the season this week we’re coming three classic episodes about industry, adventure, and romance on the water. We’ll hear about the nearly 400 year history of corn, cotton, and condos on the Mother Brook; some late-nineteenth century fake news about Vikings on the Charles; and the early 20th century canoe craze that...


Boston's Barons of the Sea (episode 89)

In this week’s episode, we sit down with author Steven Ujifusa to discuss his new book “Barons of the Sea, and their race to build the world’s fastest clipper ship,” which will be out this Tuesday, July 17. Steven will tell us about 19th century drug smuggling, what it meant to trade for tea in China or gold in California, and why America’s most prominent families were involved in the shipping business. Most of all, he’ll tell us about the East Boston shipyard where Donald McKay built the...


The Wreck of the Mary O'Hara (episode 88)

In January 1941, the two masted fishing schooner Mary O’Hara collided with a barge in Boston Harbor. At least 18 sailors died in the ice cold waters of Boston Harbor, while they were almost in sight of their own homes. Only five members of the crew managed to cling to the exposed mast for hours until help arrived. At the time, headlines called it Boston Harbor’s worst disaster. Show notes:


The Charles River Esplanade (episode 87)

This week, over a half a million people from near and far will flock to the banks of the Charles River to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. Why did Boston decide to create new land dedicated to recreation along the river, and how did some of that land end up dedicated to a highway? The story begins with the Storrow family. Listen now! Show notes:


Immigration in Boston (episode 86)

In this week's episode, we use three classic episodes to turn the Trump administration's anti-immigrant rhetoric on its head. The President teaches us to be afraid of Central American and Middle Eastern immigrants and asylum seekers because of terrorism, crime, and an unfamiliar religion. Our ancestors had these same fears about earlier immigrant groups, groups that are today considered part of the fabric of America. In their day, Italian Americans were suspected of terrorism, Chinese...


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...