Boston October 28, 2017
10 Facts About Boston You Never Knew Were True
Given the length of Boston’s history, it’s hard to be familiar with
every part of our city’s past, or even its present. Unless you’re a trivia fan, you probably don’t know these 10 interesting facts about Boston:
1. For 17 years, Bostonians could get a driver’s license without passing a test!
In 1903, Massachusetts and Missouri were the first states to require licenses in order to drive. Although chauffeurs had to pass a test from 1907 onwards, the same wasn’t true for the average person. Bostonians were able to get a license without showing any driving skills until 1920!
2. There were two Boston Tea Parties.
On March 7, 1774, sixty people boarded a ship called
Fortune. They then tossed 3,000 lbs. of tea into the water. That might sound like a lot, but less tea was destroyed during the second protest than in the first. During the original Boston Tea Party more than 90,000 lbs. of tea was thrown into the harbor!
3. The "Citgo" sign used to be filled with five miles of neon tubing.
If you stretched that out, it would have reached from Kenmore Square to Fort Independence (via Broadway). Since the sign’s renovation, it now uses LED lights.
4. The catamaran came before the swan!
In 1877, when Robert Paget introduced a new type of boat to the lagoon in the Public Garden, he wanted to hide the captain and the paddlewheel apparatus. In the opera
Lohengrin, a boat is drawn by a swan. Inspiration struck! And Paget decided to use a swan-themed boat. To this day, the same family still runs the Swan Boats.
5. The Hancock used to make people ill.
When it was first built, the upper floors of the John Hancock Tower moved when it was windy. This gave the folks inside motion sickness. The problem has long been fixed, but you know it’s tall when…
6. The giant Hood Milk Bottle outside the Boston Children’s Museum could hold 58,620 gallons of milk.
The bottle wasn’t commissioned by Hood. Instead, a man named Arthur Gagner built it. He sold his homemade ice cream from the massive bottle. Hood only bought the structure after it was abandoned; the company then gifted it to the museum.
7. If it weren't for one spring, the Puritans’ settlement in Boston might not have survived.
Safe, fresh water was scarce when the Puritans settled in Boston. William Blackstone told them about the Great Spring, which provided a reliable supply of drinking water. Today, a plaque in Spring Lane marks the location of the old spring, which played a big part in Boston’s success.
8. There are times when Boston definitely feels crowded, but our city’s population was at its largest during the 1950s.
The population was 801,000 in 1950. In 2010, the population was 617,594, according to the U.S. Census.
9. Abraham Lincoln had family ties to Boston.
President Lincoln was descended from Samuel Lincoln, one of the colonists who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was also related to Paul Revere by marriage!
10. Historically, Boston has been conflicted about Christmas.
The Puritans made public celebrations of Christmas illegal in 1659. They had several issues with the holiday. The biggest was that the date December 25th was picked to encourage Pagans to switch their Saturnalia festivities to Christian ones (Saturnalia took place in December). Christmas events were often boisterous, which also didn’t go over well with the Puritans either. The ban was overturned in 1681.
Centuries later in 1875, a Roxbury man named Louis Prang printed the nation’s first Christmas cards.
This list of fun facts is by no means exhaustive. What’s your favorite piece of Boston trivia? Let us know on the
Only In Boston Facebook page.
You may also be interested in our past article: “
The 11 Weirdest And Strangest Things That Have Ever Happened In Boston.”