ABOUT THE HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS Things change slowly in the Back Bay. Boston, after all, is the city where women were once said to hide their new clothes from Paris in the closet for a year, so as not to look too fashionable. The earlier photo was made in 1962 from a construction crane atop the new Prudential Center's tower; the second, in 1993, was made from the Pru's observation floor. We notice few changes. Huntington Avenue, which once angled through Copley Square, at lower right, was closed in 1967. Trhe New England insurance company erected new wings around its old cupola, at center, and later built a klutzy high-rise across Boylston Street behind Trinity Church. And the edge of the John Hancock Tower (1976) is visible at right. But the real change is invisible. In 1962 the Back Bay was seedy. Many of its once fine houses had been sliced into apartments for students or elderly singles. There were few shops or restaurants. Mayor John Collins vowed to revive the neighborhood by building high-rise towers. He failed . Instead, in 1966, the Back Bay became a historic district, with a new zoning law to discourage fraternities and dormitories. Now most of the area has been restored, largely as condos for prosperous new urbanites. They fell in love with a neighborhood described by historian Walter Muir Whitehill as "the handsomest ... example of American architecture of the second half of the nineteenth century now existing in the United States." -Robert Campbell and Peter Vanderwarker, "CITYSCAPES - Back Bay, Boston Globe, 3 October 1993


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