ABOUT THE HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS For months, a group of powerful private citizens has been meeting regularly to figure out some way to pump a little blood through Boston's cold heart. The Trust for City Hall Plaza is led by the developer Norman Leventhal, whose credits include Rowes Wharf and the wonderful Post Office Square Park. Mayor Tom Menino, too, is a believer and has been making some proposals of his own, including one for a glass-walled restaurant on the roof of City HaU (at right in the 1995 photograph). Anything would help. These sad photos are the record of an attempt to improve the city by demolishing it. After 40 years, nothing remains except a fragment of the Central Artery, visible at the center in both views. In the 1955 shot, we're looking down Hanover Street toward the North End. Hanover is packed with life, the kind that reminds you of the role once played in &Ston by the thousands of sailors attached to the Charlestown Navy Yard. Here are cheap hotels, a tattoo parlor, the Stage Door Cafe, Jack's Light House Dine and Dance, the Brothers Cafe, the Casino burlesque theater, the Copa Restaurant, the Scollay Grill. There's a dentist named Dr. 1. Flink - Anglicized, one hopes, from Flinch - and there an: no fewer than four joke-and-novelty shops. The uses are seedy, but the amiable clutter and human scale are appealing. All this life was swept away in the 1960s in a Puritan frenzy of urban renewal. Good cities are made of good streets, not barren spaces. Restoring Hanover Street in some form would help return a sense of connectedness to City Hall Plaza, which now resembles an abandoned brickyard. It's one of the options being considered by the trust. Another is building a hotel somewhere on the northern edge of the plaza, where it might help mask the insufferable JFK Federal Building (at left in the 1995 photograph). There will be a new subway kiosk, and there's even talk of converting an unused tunnel into an amusement ride named Charlie on the MTA, after the comic song."

Constructed, 1962


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