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.
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 annexing your neighbors, you have to keep track of those new boundaries. So our second clip will be from a show that aired way back in September of 2017, about the ancient practice of perambulating the bounds. Since the 1650s, Massachusetts law has required towns to clearly mark their boundaries with other towns, and to send somebody out to walk the line and examine the markers every five years.
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 an organization 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. Onlookers were outraged by the violence and attempted to stop the police. The resulting riot spanned three nights in Roxbury, with arson, looting, and shots fired both by and at the police, and the scars it left behind took decades to heal.
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.
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 Hooker Day in his honor.
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 engineer who designed the steam pumps that provided Boston’s water.
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 Bostonians engaged in them, and because Henry James popularized the concept in his novel The Bostonians. As the story of the name indicates, real relationships between women were influenced by contemporary literature by James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendall Holmes, but these authors also drew inspiration from the apparently romantic relationships they saw between women in their lives.
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.
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 couples on May 17, 2004.
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. If it hadn’t been for bad luck and bad politics, we might all be taking monorails instead of today’s Red and Orange lines, but instead the monorail turned out to be more of a Shelbyville idea.