ABOUT THE HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS "The more things change, the more they remain the same, as the French say. Here we see two Rowes Wharfs, the first in about 1960, the second in 1988. The resemblances are striking. Both buildings are flat, low walls along Atlantic Avenue, with a grid of windows set in brick above whitish shop fronts at the sidewalk. And both have a prominent archway at the center. The older building was torn down by the Boston Redevelopment Authority soon after the old photograph was made. Its castellated Gothic architecture probably dates from the late 19th century. Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in Chicago, the designer of the new Rowes Wharf, says he didn`t know about the older one when he began his own design. Among the stores in the old Rowes Wharf are Warren Drug, Atlantic Uniform, Hub Surplus, Continental Motor, Billy Vigor`s Surplus, and Marine Hardware. The name ‘Rowes Wharf` is carved into the center of the arch. Vigor`s still exists, on Summer Street, and Mark Vigor remembers the old building. ‘We had the ocean behind and the Central Artery in front,` he recalls. ‘On hot days we`d open the window in the back and get the sea breeze.` He says the store was forced to move out in 1960 or ‘61. The two Rowes Wharfs tell us a short story of changing ideas about urban design in Boston. Both are street buildings. Like the houses of Commonwealth Avenue, they line up in a row with other buildings, making a firm wall that shapes and contains the space of the street just as an interior wall shapes a room. If the new Rowes Wharf had been built in the 1960s or ‘70s, it would surely not have been a street-shaping building but, rather, some kind of free-standing object in a plaza, like the Waterfront Marriott or Harbor Towers. In a sense, we`ve come full circle from Rowes I to Rowes II. We`ve decided once again that a city`s most important outdoor rooms are its streets. Each Rowes, old and new, is a handsomely paneled wall – with a bold, arched ceremonial door – for the room that is Atlantic Avenue." -Robert Campbell and Peter Vanderwarker, "CITYSCAPES - Rowes Wharf: Arch-itecture," Boston Globe, 23 October 1988

Constructed, 1987


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