I‘ve lived Newton for most of my 64 years and as I pass some locations I often ask myself, “what did the area look like 100 years ago?” That simple question led me to the Newton Glass Plate photographic collection at the Newton Main Library.
Some of the photographs in the Library collection are unidentified and it became a challenge to identify them and then compare them to a modern view. It became a photographic “investigation” involving Newton city directories, atlases, maps and an occasional post card.
An interesting article could be written about the historic Davis Hotel on Washington St, the railroad that came to West Newton, the depression of the rail road tracks or the extension of the Massachusetts Turnpike. The photographs I included in this article have a small aspect of each one of these topics. The photographs are a short walk on Chestnut St. in West Newton and are glimpse of buildings and scenes that disappeared many years ago.
If you are on foot on Chestnut St. heading toward Washington St. and walk over the bridge that straddles the Mass Pike and the rail road tracks, you will see the scene in photograph #1., with the Davis Hotel building in the distance. It has survived since the early 1800s. If you stop on the bridge and look to your right, you will see the scene in photograph #2, a parking garage. If you took that same short walk about a hundred years ago you wouldn’t cross any bridge, because the tracks were at grade level and the scene dead ahead would be in photograph # 3, the Davis Hotel, still in the distance. If you stopped just before you stepped over the rail road tracks and looked to your right you would be looking at the scene in photograph #4.
By the 1890s the Davis Hotel had evolved into the Glover Fish and Oyster Market and Clark’s Harness and Saddlery. Today it houses a pizza shop and other businesses
Maybe next time I can show you what you would have seen a hundred years ago when you reached the intersection of Chestnut St. and Washington St.