When an MIT professor secured what had to be a gawky and huge camera to the front of his car and drove a loop around Boston in 1963 he likely could have never imagined someone would find the film and replicate exactly what he did a half century later, but that’s EXACTLY what happened. Boston resident and car guy Mat Cronin stumbled upon the original footage while trolling the internet one night and it did not take long to figure out that if he mounted a GoPro to the front of his Camaro and followed the same route, the film would show the evolution of the city over a half century. Back in the early 1960s as now, Boston is a crummy place to spend the day driving around. I speak from professional experience having worked as a truck driver navigating many of the streets you will see in this video.
What’s cool about the route that both men take here is that they enter the city from the west through Cambridge. Cambridge is the home to places like Harvard, MIT, and lots of neat old stuff. Entering the city they both drive nearly straight across it before passing into Southie and eventually looping back over on a different route and ending at the famed Citgo sign which is down near Fenway Park. South Boston has gained fame (infamy) in recent years with films like “The Departed” and it will really get the limelight shined on it with the upcoming release of Black Mass, the film that is based on the real life and horrific existence of mobster Whitey Bulger.
You can see the different enclaves of the city here with the Back Bay’s tony brownstones having withstood the march of time while other places have changed drastically. Stuart street in particular caught my eye. Early in the video when the car crosses the Longfellow Bridge and the vehicles pass Mass General Hospital (MGH) I got the shivers. I would literally spend days of my life at that place running deliveries, parked in a alley so narrow I could barely get the truck doors open. Storrow Drive is another eye opener. Today it spends most of its life 100% congested and there is a famous low bridge there that college kids moving in and leaving inevitably wedge trucks under each Spring and Fall. In this video it nearly looks like a super highway in ’63 but today it feels very claustrophobic.
If you have never visited the city of Boston, it sure is worth the trip. I’d recommend walking though and remember, I’m a trained professional.
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