Boston

Boston was first discovered by an European when John Smith explored the New England coast in 1614. However it did not become an established settlement until the arrival of John Winthrop with 700 immigrants from England in 1630. Boston was an early centre of Puritanism and in 1865 established America's first public school. The Shawmut Peninsula, where the town was settled, was originally nearly completely surrounded by water.

The long shoreline provided ample space for wharves and shipyards. In 1800 the Boston Naval Shipyard was built and the waterfront was extended, with Black Bay being dammed (1818-21).

The growth of Boston as an industrial area attracted a large number of immigrants. It was especially popular with the Irish and in 1906 John Francis Fitzgerald became the mayor Boston. In doing so, Fitzgerald became the first mayor in the United States whose parents had been born in Ireland. He now joined forces with his former rival, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, to run the city. Fitzgerald's daughter, Rose Fitzgerald, was later to marry Kennedy's son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy: the parents of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy.

James Curley was elected mayor of Boston. in 1914. This period of power ended in 1918 but he served again from 1922 to 1926 and 1930 to 1934. Although he was twice sent to prison and was generally believed to be a corrupt politician, Curley was popular with the large Irish population in Boston. However, his opponents described him as the "Irish Mussolini"

The city includes former neighbouring towns: Roxbury, West Roxbury, Dorchester, Charleston, Brighton and Hyde Park. Boston is 46 square miles (119 square kilometres) and in 1990 had a population of 574,283.

The average age of Irish life in Boston does not exceed fourteen years. In Broad Street and all the surrounding neighbourhood, including Fort Hill and the adjacent streets, the situation of the Irish is particularly wretched. During their visits last summer, your committee were witnesses of scenes too painful to be forgotten, and yet too disgusting to be related here. It is sufficient to say, that the whole district is a perfect hive of human beings, without comforts and mostly without common necessaries; in many cases, huddled together like brutes, without regard to sex, or age, or sense of decency: grown men and women sleeping together in the same apartment, and sometimes wife and husband, brothers and sisters all in the same bed.

Boston prides itself on being a cultural centre and really to some extent is so. The public library is beautifully laid out around a large pseudo-Italian courtyard and fountains, with seats around where people sit and read and keep cool on hot evenings. There is even one-half of the courtyard reserved for non-smokers.


History of Boston, Massachusetts

Sometimes called “The Cradle of Liberty” for its role in instigating the American Revolution, Boston’s rich history had its beginnings in the 1630s when the Puritans established a settlement there. Boston was named by Massachusetts’ first deputy-governor, Thomas Dudley, whose hometown was Boston, Lincolnshire, England. Once the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Company, Boston became home to 1,000 Puritans who had fled religious and political persecution in Europe. Later its inhabitants came to be called “Bostonians.” Early settlement In September 1630, the Puritans landed on the Shawmut Peninsula so named by the Native Americans who were living there. The Puritans called it Trimountaine until the town was renamed after Boston, Lincolnshire, England. It was the Massachusetts Bay Company’s original governor John Winthrop who preached the famous sermon called “A City upon a Hill.” Delivered prior to their departure from England in 1630, Winthrop spoke of the special covenant the Puritans had with God and of their actions which would be watched by the world. Colonial rebellion led to revolution Boston became the hotspot of unrest as colonists began to rebel against the heavy taxation levied upon them by the British Parliament. Colonists organized a boycott in response to the Townshend Acts of 1767, which resulted in the so-called "Boston Massacre." At the trial, it was determined that the redcoats had been drawn to fire upon the crowd. Originally thought to have been the catalyst for swaying the American public against the British, historians have recently decided that further unpopular British actions would have had to occur before a larger portion of the populace came to embrace the radical view of independence. Other upheavals strongly influenced the colonists to raise arms to fight a war against the British. Samuel Adams and other radicals were involved in the Boston Tea Party that led to similar actions in other port cities up and down the Eastern seaboard and tended to polarize the sides in the widening dispute. Patriots and Loyalists each became more ardent about their views. Such Parliamentary acts as the Tea Act of 1773 and the Boston Port Act, passed in June 1774, attempted to bring order to Boston. Several early Revolutionary War battles were fought in or near Boston. They included the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. During this period, Paul Revere made his midnight ride. Post-Revolutionary times After the American Revolution, the town became one of the world’s wealthiest international trading ports, and descendents from old Boston families became the social and cultural elite called the "Boston Brahmins." In the 1820s, a rush of immigrants from Ireland and Italy began to change dramatically, the city’s ethnic composition. They brought with them a staunch Roman Catholicism. Catholics currently comprise Boston's largest religious community. The Irish Catholics in particular have played a significant role in Boston politics, with such prominent figures as John F. Kennedy and others. Boston in the 20th Century In 1919, the Boston Police Strike was just one in a series of labor strikes that took place across the country. Unions attempted to gain higher wages to adjust for wartime inflation. The largely Irish-American police force organized in order to gain not only higher pay, but shorter hours and better working conditions. Failed attempts to reach an agreement with the City led to a strike of 1,100 officers on September 9, and eventually the Massachusetts National Guard was sent in by Governor Calvin Coolidge to restore the peace. Such actions aided in Coolidge’s nomination to the vice presidency in 1920. By the mid-1900s, Boston fell into decline as major industrial factories relocated to areas where they could find a cheaper labor source. The city responded with urban renewal projects that led to the leveling of the old West End neighborhood and the construction of Government Center. In the 1970s, Boston encouraged diversification into the banking and investment fields, becoming a leader in the mutual fund industry. Racial tensions were ignited in 1974, over the forced busing of students. It was an attempt to create a more balanced student body, especially in neighborhoods comprised of one ethnicity. The ensuing violence and unrest served to highlight racial tensions in the city. Since that time, some of those ethnic neighborhoods have been transformed into housing for the wealthiest sectors of society. As a result, the city currently faces gentrification issues, as many modest or working-class neighborhoods have been eliminated. It is a common problem among older cities along the East coast. Historic architectural riches Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States and was a place where British troops camped before the American Revolution. The park was also used for public hangings until 1817. The old Central Burying Ground is at Tremont and Boylston streets of the Common, and the oldest subway stations in the country are located nearby. The Common was also used as a racetrack for horsemen in 1787, until objections from safety-conscious people led the city to establish a sanctioned race meet there two years later. The third rendition of Boston's Trinity Church was completed during America's Centennial celebrations, in 1876. The new church replaced the second version, which was built 1733, and then gutted by fire in 1872.) Trinity Church is similar in style to the Old South Meeting House, where Adams held public meetings after the Tea Act was passed. The construction work of the new Episcopal building, along with the Chapel, was completed in 1876. It stands in the center of Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, with its central crossing tower and is visible from any vantage point. Educational and cultural mecca A mecca comprised of some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation, Boston draws students to such area institutions as Harvard College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston College, and Boston University. Holding the title as the fourth largest independent university in America, Boston University was organized by a group of lay and ministerial delegates of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Boston College (1863) is the flagship of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and holds the distinction of being the first institution of higher education established in the city. The Chestnut Hill school is also near the infamous "Heartbreak Hill" of Boston Marathon fame. Boston also boasts the oldest public schools in the nation — Boston Latin School, the oldest public school (1635) English High, the oldest public high school (1821) and the oldest public elementary school, Mather (1639). Boston contains a number of fascinating museums including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which is one of the most comprehensive museums in the world. First opening on July 4, 1876, the nation's centennial, the museum has an extensive Egyptian artifact collection that include sculptures, sarcophogi, and jewelry. It also contains a large collection of French impressionist works including Paul Gauguin, as well as works by Manet, Renoir, Degas, Monet, and others. There is an extensive collection of 18th and 19th century American art, as well as 5,000 pieces of Japanese pottery. The Museum of African-American History is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving, and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans from the colonial period through the 19th century. Founded in 1963, the museum encompasses the African Meeting House, which is the oldest of its kind in America, and the adjacent Abiel Smith School, the first building constructed to house a black public school. Originally known as the Boston Society of Natural History, the historically based Museum of Science-Boston was established in 1830. The Mugar Omni Theater at the museum, is a spectacle of sight and sound. It boasts one of the world's largest movie projectors and a state-of-the-art digital sound system. The Boston Children’s Museum was established in 1913, by a group of teachers in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood and focuses on childhood development. This fun place for children and adults features a two-story maze, reading adventures, a visit to a Boston neighborhood, and a climbing wall. Classical music can be heard from famous orchestras located in Boston. Founded in 1881, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the largest orchestral organizations in the world, with three distinct areas of operation — the Symphony, Boston Pops, and Boston University's Tanglewood Institute, a summer program for high school-aged artists to study under the Symphony's guidance. Sports of all kinds Boston is legendary for its sports teams and the support of their fans, which are some of the most loyal and avid in the country. The city is the home of Fenway Park, the oldest baseball stadium in active use in the Major Leagues. The Boston Red Sox continue to play their home games at famous Fenway (with its equally famous "Green Monster"), which opened on April 20, 1912. Babe Ruth led the Red Sox to two World Series victories here before he was sold to the New York Yankees for $100,000 and a $350,000 loan, creating the much-ballyhooed "Curse of the Bambino." * Boston is also home to two professional teams that play at the TD Banknorth Garden (formerly called the Fleet Center): the Boston Bruins NHL ice hockey team, and the Boston Celtics NBA basketball team. The Celtics have won more World Championships than any other NBA franchise, with 16 titles from 1957 to 1986. The National Football League's New England Patriots play their games in nearby Foxboro Stadium, close to the I-95/I-495 interchange. Soccer fans also travel to Foxboro to watch the New England Revolution, a Major League soccer team. In East Boston, Suffolk Downs was opened in 1935, for racing thoroughbred horses. Such famous horses as Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, and Cigar, have raced in the venerable MassCap that is held there.

*The Curse of the Bambino became synonymous with the Red Sox franchise, for its failure to win a World Series since Ruth ("The Bambino") was sold to the archrival Yankees after the 1919 season. The Red Sox last World Series championship had been won a year earlier, in 1918. That "curse" was broken when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.


There are 23 distinct neighborhoods

Part of what makes Boston distinct is the fact that there are more than just a few districts that make up the city. In all, 23 very different neighborhoods comprise the entirety of Boston, each bringing their own personalities and cultures. The Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End are each home to gorgeous streets lined with historical brownstones. Jamaica Plain and Roslindale offer an array of local community shops and green spaces, while Allston has the feel of a mini-college town. Roxbury, East Boston and Dorchester are among Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods, each with its own heritage and vibrant culture. And the North End and Downtown are two of the most popular neighborhoods among tourists for their historical attractions, such as the Paul Revere House, Old State House and Freedom Trail.


History

The first city in the United States to use an automobile as a police cruiser was Boston. Placed in service at Station 16 in July, 1903, it covered about 60 miles a day through the Back Bay district. Chauffeur-Driven, a uniformed officer rode on a seat high enough "to allow him to look over the back fences."

The history of American law enforcement begins in Boston.

The people of the town of Boston established a Watch in 1631. Shortly thereafter, the Town Meeting assumed control of the Watch in 1636.Watchmen patrolled the streets of Boston at night to protect the public from criminals, wild animals, and fire.

The Watchmen’s responsibilities grew along with the town, which became the City of Boston in 1822. Less than twenty years later, the City founded a police force of six men under the supervision of a City Marshall. The Boston Watch of 120 men continued to operate separately.

In 1854, the City replaced the Watch organizations with the Boston Police Department, which consisted of 250 officers. Each officer received payment of $2 per shift, walked his own beat, and was forbidden to hold outside employment. Rather than use the billhook of the old Watch, officers began to carry a 14-inch club. In the proceeding years, the City annexed several neighboring towns and expanded police services to those areas.

The telephone greatly influenced means of communication at the BPD during the 1880s, as demonstrated by the replacement of the telegraph system with telephone lines at police stations, and the installation of police call boxes.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the BPD officers began providing charitable services, such as serving soup to the poor at police stations. Police stations also opened their doors to newcomers to the city, who could spend a night as a “lodger.” Additionally, police ambulances transported sick and injured individuals to the City Hospital. Some of the services founded during this time have continued into the present day, though some now under the management of external city agencies.

At the turn of the 20th century, the BPD grew to 1,000 patrolmen. At that time keeping the peace resulted in nearly 32,000 arrests annually. The role of the police also expanded, with the introduction of the automobile came new practices. Duties now included regulating motor vehicle traffic and removing unruly passengers from streetcars. The BPD purchased its first patrol car in 1903 and its first patrol wagon in 1912. In later years, police would use motorcycles to deal with ever-increasing traffic.

The Boston Police Strike of 1919 sought to improve wages and working conditions for patrolmen, and recognition for its trade union. This effort made national headlines and changed the BPD, as the Department eliminated nearly three-quarters of its force and filled the ranks with returning soldiers from World War I.

The 1920s served as an especially deadly time for the BPD, with 17 officers killed in the line of duty between 1920 and 1930 as the Department dealt with Prohibition and ensuing crime. The Great Depression cut police pay due to a smaller city budget. During World War II, many police officers left the Department to join the armed forces.

Similar to other police departments in the 1960s, the Boston police maintained order during periods of protest and unrest. With school desegregation in 1974, the BPD deployed officers throughout the city to escort school children and to ensure public safety.

To meet the demands of modern policy, the BPD built a state-of-the-art facility in 1997. While earlier police headquarters were located near the centers of government and commerce, the new BPD Headquarters is located in the Roxbury neighborhood in order to be near the geographic midpoint of Boston. One Schroeder Plaza is named in honor of brothers Walter and John Schroeder, two officers killed in the line of duty in the 1970s.

Over the last four decades, Boston has experienced a significant decrease in its overall crime rate. Throughout its history, the BPD has employed innovative strategies and partnerships in order to protect all those in Boston, and has served as a role model for police departments nationwide.


How Boston Made Itself Bigger

Maps from 1630 to the present show how the city—once an 800-acre peninsula—grew into what it is today.

Last year’s drought had Boston worrying anew about a longstanding problem: The foundations beneath centuries-old homes and other buildings are at risk of rotting and crumbling.

It seems counterintuitive that a lack of water would be a problem for foundations, but this odd situation is the result of an unusual facet of Boston’s history: A large portion of the city sits on man-made land. Structures built on the landfill are supported by dozens of 30- to 40-foot-long wood pilings, similar to telephone poles, that reach down through the landfill to a harder layer of clay. These pilings sit entirely below the water table, which protects them from microbes that would attack them in dry air, causing rot.

Water leaking into sewers or tunnels can drop the water table below the pilings even in wet years. But last year’s drought brought the water table dangerously close to the tops of some of these pilings, putting them at greater risk. How did Boston end up in this situation? It all started in the 17th century, not long after the city was established.

When the Puritans arrived in 1630, much of the land that underlies some of the oldest parts of Boston didn’t exist. They settled on a small peninsula—called Shawmut by Native Americans—that covered less than 800 acres and was connected to the mainland by a narrow neck that became submerged during high tide. It had the advantage of a dependable supply of springwater, and it was well positioned for maritime commerce.

The map above shows the shape of Shawmut when Boston was established in 1630. Shortly thereafter, its inhabitants began to make their peninsula bigger.

Boston’s land-making wasn’t all about the need for more space, writes author Nancy Seasholes in her wonderfully comprehensive book Gaining Ground. Over the years there were many other motivations for making new land, including making harbor improvements, burying pollution from wastewater, safeguarding public health, building public parks, adding railroad tracks and depots, adding more shipping facilities to compete with other port cities, establishing appealing neighborhoods to entice Yankees to stay (and to counter Irish immigration), and creating space for the city’s airport.

In fact, some of that new land was the unforeseen end result of entirely unrelated endeavors. An early example of this is the story of Mill Pond. In the 1640s, a group of businessmen got permission from the city to build a dam across the mouth of a cove on the northern end of the peninsula, so that they could use the tides to power some flour mills. The dam formed what was known as Mill Pond (see map below), and the mills were up and running by the end of the decade. But they were never very productive, and the whole operation was sold off to another group by the end of the 18th century.

The new mill owners closed the floodgates on the west end of the dam, which reduced flow along the banks of Mill Pond. Consequently, sewage, garbage, and the rotting corpses of discarded animals began to accumulate along the shore. It’s unclear whether letting the filth build up was part of their plan, but the new owners soon began lobbying the city to let them fill in the pond and sell off the land.

Creating more taxable land was appealing, but public-health concerns were also a major issue. At the time, the miasmatic theory of disease—the idea that illness was caused by foul, pestilent odors—had made its way to Boston from England, and undoubtedly influenced the decision to fill in the pond. Bostonians, including local doctors, feared that the stench from Mill Pond would make them sick. Permission was granted, and in 1807 the filling-in began.

Most of the material came from Beacon Hill, whose elevation is currently 60 feet lower than it was before Boston began tearing down its hills to make new land. Today the 50 acres of new land at Mill Pond is known as Bulfinch Triangle, after architect Charles Bulfinch’s triangle-shaped plan for the new streets (visible on the 1826 map below). It became an industrial and commercial zone, and later more land was extended outward from the triangle to support railroad depots.

One of the most extensive areas of man-made land in Boston is in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood and surrounding areas. The 150-year history of land-making in this area shares some aspects with the Mill Pond saga, including the initial construction of a dam to power mills in 1822. Back Bay encompassed the large tidal flats on the north side of Boston Neck, which connected Boston to the mainland. Once that area was cordoned off by the dam (as can be seen in the 1826 map above), it was probably inevitable that it would eventually be filled in.

Small pieces of new land began appearing almost immediately. The Boston Public Garden, just west of the Boston Common (see map above) and part of the neighborhood just south of the garden (known today as Bay Village), began growing in the mid-1820s. In the 1830s, railroad lines were built through Back Bay, reducing circulation and hampering the already underwhelming tidal power that could never keep more than a few mills running.

The crisscrossing railroad lines further partitioned the bay (see the map below), and a sewage-fueled stench soon had residents once again decrying the unhealthy miasma wafting into the city. Seasholes’ research into Back Bay uncovered an 1849 report from a city committee that reads: “Back Bay at this hour is nothing less than a great cesspool into which is daily deposited all the filth of a large and constantly increasing population … A greenish scum, many yards wide, stretches along the shores of the Western Avenue [Mill Dam], whilst the surface of the water beyond is seen bubbling like a cauldron with the noxious gases that are exploding from the corrupting mass below.”

In 1850, Bostonians began filling in the bubbling cauldron in earnest (the 1867 Coast Survey map above shows the bay partially filled in). With most of the city’s hills already leveled and made into new land, some parts of Back Bay were filled with trash, mud from the flats of the South Bay on the other side of Boston Neck, and sand and gravel brought in by railroad from Needham, Massachusetts, west of the city. The whole area wasn’t completely filled in until the 1890s.

Today Back Bay is one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, but also among the most vulnerable to foundation rot. In 1929, cracks began forming in the grand entryway of the Boston Public Library after leaks into a sewer pipe dropped the water level in that part of Back Bay, causing the tops of many of the structure’s pilings to rot. The cost to fix it was $200,000— a hefty amount at the time.

Since then, around 200 other buildings have had their pilings repaired. A block away from the library, Trinity Church, built atop 4,500 pilings in 1877, was outfitted with a backup water system in 2003 to keep the pilings wet if the water level drops too low.

The cost of underpinning a home with rotted pilings today can reach $400,000 or more. In 1986 the city established the Boston Groundwater Trust, which tracks water levels in the city through a network of monitoring wells on public property. But with more than 5,000 acres of man-made land—more than any other American city (except perhaps San Francisco, where the landfill hasn’t been comprehensively totaled)—Bostonians will be living with this problem for the foreseeable future.


Boston By Foot:

Boston By Foot offers numerous standard history tours as well as a number of specialty topic tours that discuss more niche history topics.

The standard history tours include the Back Bay tour, the Beacon Hill tour, Boston by Little Feet tour, Heart of the Freedom Trail tour, Reinventing Boston: A City Engineered tour, Road to Revolution tour, the Dark Side of Boston, the Hub of Literary America, the North End: Gateway to Boston.

The Back Bay tour is a 90-minute tour that discusses how the area was once an actual bay that was later filled in and explains how the neighborhood developed in the 19th century to become the center of art and architecture in Boston. The tour stops at locations such as Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, Old South Church, and various Back Bay townhouses.

The Beacon Hill tour is a 90-minute tour that discusses the history and development of the area from its beginnings as a rural hill to its development as one of the most wealthy neighborhoods that became home to some of Boston’s most prominent citizens.

The Boston By Little Feet tour is a 30 minute walking tour specifically for children between six and 12 years of age. The tour explores sites that played a key role in Boston’s history and also visits some of the oldest landmarks in the city. The tour includes ten sites in downtown Boston.

The Heart of the Freedom Trail Tour is a 90-minute walking tour of the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston. The tour explores the history of Boston from the early days of the Puritan settlement to the American Revolution to its more modern development.

The tour includes stops along 10 historic sites on the Freedom Trail such as the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, King’s Chapel, Old South Meetinghouse, and the site of the first public school in America.

Reinventing Boston: A City Engineered

The Reinventing Boston tour is a 90-minute tour that explores that various public works projects that have transformed Boston over the centuries. The tour discusses topics such as Boston’s maritime wharves, the history of the Boston subway and the Big Dig.

The Road to Revolution is a two-hour tour and is the company’s most comprehensive Freedom Trail tour. The tour explores famous landmarks such as King’s Chapel, the Old South Meetinghouse, the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, the Paul Revere House and etc.

The Dark Side of Boston tour is a 90-minute tour that explores the city’s more notorious history such as murders, disease epidemics, riots, robberies, disasters and etc. The tour takes place in the North End neighborhood.

The Hub of Literary America

The Hub of Literary America is a 90-minute tour that explores the history of Boston’s literary scene. The tour highlights the homes and hangouts of many prominent 19th century writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Henry James, Charles Dickens and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The North End: Gateway to Boston

The North End tour is a 90-minute tour that explores the history behind one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. The tour discusses the many phases of the North End’s history such as its early Colonial days, the American Revolution, 19th century wave of immigrants to its modern day appearance.

In addition to these standard tours, the company also offers special topic tours such as:

Adams Family in Boston
Bay Village
Beacon Hill with a Boo!
Ben Franklin: Son of Boston
Boston by Bullfinch
Boston’s LGBT Past
Boston’s Opera House
Dams, Bridges & Locks
East Boston: Maverick Square and Beyond
Educating Boston
Fierce and Feminine: Great Women of Boston
Finding Aesop’s Fables in Copley Square
Footloose on the Freedom Trail
Fort Point Channel
Grave Undertakings: Boston’s Burying Grounds
Historic Waterfront
Johnny Termain’s Boston
Kendall Square
Longwood & Cottage Farm
Murder, Martyrs and Mysticism
SoWa: South of Washington Street
The Flat of Beacon Hill
The Making of MIT: From Back Bay to Cambridge
The Tipsy Tour: Dram Shops and Drunken Sailors
True Lies and False Facts: A Questionable Tour of Boston


Beacon Hill / Antique Row

One of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods, Beacon Hill is known for its charming, narrow cobblestone streets, federal style row houses and gaslit street lamps. It’s also considered to be one of Boston’s most desirable and expensive residential areas in the city. A visit to Boston isn’t complete without a stop here. Whether to shop, dine or wander about admiring the architecture and numerous historic sites, there are so many things to do in Beacon Hill.


FBI Boston History

In the summer of 1908, Attorney General Charles Bonaparte created a small force of federal detectives within the Department of Justice. Some of the earliest investigations of this new force were conducted in the Boston area. At some point during the next three years, a Bureau field office was created in Boston.

Like other Bureau offices, during these early years the Boston Division mainly investigated violations of the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910—one of several dozen federal crimes the new force was responsible for—which made the transportation of women across state lines for immoral purposes a federal crime.

With America’s entry into World War I in April 1917, the Boston office began investigating acts of espionage and sabotage as well as matters of subversion, such as interfering with the draft or encouraging disloyalty among Americans. This mandate was a challenge for the division, as Boston’s large ethnic Irish population was concerned about the U.S. allying itself with Great Britain.

1920s and 1930s

At the conclusion of World War I and into the early 1920s, the Bureau returned to its pre-war role of investigating the small number of federal crimes, including the newly passed National Motor Vehicle Theft Act (or Dyer Act) of 1920 that made it a federal offense to take a stolen vehicle across state lines.

When J. Edgar Hoover was appointed Director in 1924, the Boston Division was one of the Bureau’s larger offices, although still a small office by modern comparison. It consisted of only 17 employees under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George Shanton.

Despite the small number of special agents, the Boston Division was responsible for federal investigations in five states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. This wide area of responsibility made investigations extremely difficult. In addition, there was little continuity in leadership the special agent in charge changed nine times in eight years, a rapid turnover even at a time when Bureau leadership regularly rotated from office to office. In light of these difficulties and Director Hoover’s reorganization, the Boston Division was closed in March 1932.

The closure was short lived, as the Bureau stepped up its work in response to the rise of violent gangsters and Attorney General Homer Cummings’ resulting “war on crime.” In September 1933, the office was reopened with more than 100 employees under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge C.D. McKean. The office began investigations throughout New England, hunting for its own “public enemies.”

One of those notorious criminals was Alfred Brady, who had formed a gang in Indiana with several friends in 1935. Though small in number, Brady and his band committed some 150 robberies, at least one murder, and countless assaults. Brady even bragged that his exploits “would make Dillinger look like a piker.” Although the gang hid out in Philadelphia and other locations, Brady and his men thought Maine would be the perfect, out of the way place to buy guns and ammunition. This was a mistake. The manager of a Bangor, Maine sporting goods store became suspicious of the men and alerted authorities. On October 9, 1937, 15 FBI agents—along with Indiana and Maine State Police—arrived in town. On October 12, the gang returned to Bangor to pick up a Thompson sub-machine gun and clips they had ordered from one of the stores. Agents from the Boston Division and elsewhere, Maine State Police, and local police staked out the store. When the criminals returned to get their guns, they were surrounded. A gunfight erupted, and in less than four minutes, Brady and one of his men were dead, and a third gangster was in custody. The fight remains fixed in the memories of Bangor, Maine and the Boston Division to this day.

By the end of 1937, the Boston office had more than 125 special agents and support personnel handling nearly 700 cases.

1940s

With a second world war looming in Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt assigned responsibility for investigating espionage, sabotage, and other subversive activities to the FBI and other agencies in 1939. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941—and U.S. entrance into World War II—the FBI began working 24 hours a day to protect the nation from enemy threats.

In Boston, Special Agent in Charge V.W. Peterson realized the difficultly of managing this responsibility across five states, so he asked for the public’s help in reporting suspected spies and saboteurs. This request paid off in November 1944, when local citizens reported suspicious activities that helped Boston agents capture William Colepaugh and Erich Gimpel, two Nazi spies who landed at Point Hancock, Maine in a German U-Boat.

The Boston Division also focused on other wartime issues. In one fugitive case, Boston agents captured a U.S. Marine who had escaped from the New York Navy Yard’s detention facility. His name was Private Thomas Maroney, and he had been jailed for robberies in New York and Washington, D.C. Acting on a tip that Maroney was hiding in Boston, investigators turned the fugitive’s passion for ice skating against him by watching area rinks. This surveillance paid off on December 5, 1943, when agents captured Maroney putting on his skates at a Boston rink. Ironically, Alfred Brady’s love of skating had played a role in generating investigative leads as well.

1950s and 1960s

Following the end of the war, both national security and criminal work remained important.

In January 1950, the Boston Division investigated one of its biggest cases. At 7:30 p.m. on January 17, 1950, six or seven armed men wearing dark coats, dark pants, chauffeur caps, and Halloween masks held up a Brinks security firm in Boston. They placed more than $1.2 million in cash and $1.5 million in checks into two large laundry bags and made their escape. Leads were few, and the press soon called it the “crime of the century,” the “perfect crime,” or the “fabulous Brinks robbery.” Over the next six years the Boston FBI, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Boston Police worked every aspect of the case. Their diligence paid off. In August 1956, eight men—Anthony Pino, Joe McGinnis, Vincent Costa, Henry Baker, Adolph Maffie, Michael Geagan, James Faherty, and Thomas Richardson—went to trial for their roles in the Brinks robbery. All eight were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Two other men were also found to be involved—Stanley Gusciora died of natural causes before the trial began, and Joseph O’Keefe pled guilty to armed robbery.

On March 14, 1950, the FBI began its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list to increase law enforcement’s ability to capture dangerous fugitives. Since 1951, the Boston Division has had 21 fugitives on this list. See all of these fugitives and their fates.

By the summer of 1953, the Boston office had grown to 180 employees and occupied six floors of the Security Boston Trust Building at 100 Milk Street (also known as 10 Post Office Square). The division was handling an average of 2,840 cases per year and maintained a four state area of responsibility— Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine. Vermont had become the responsibility of the FBI office in Albany, New York.

The division continued to grow. By 1960, it employed more than 200 agents and support staff. The main office was now located in the Sheraton Building at 470 Atlantic Avenue in Boston the division was averaging nearly 3000 criminal, security, and applicant investigations per year. As a result of new federal racketeering and gambling laws enacted by Congress, organized crime cases increased, but limitations in these laws made it difficult to take out the leaders of the mobster groups. The division also investigated civil rights violations and the often violent discord growing out of protests of the Vietnam War. Selective Service (draft dodging) investigations also grew in number. In October 1967 alone, the Boston Division opened 48 new Selective Service cases and received 80 additional requests for assistance on related cases from other field divisions.

The Boston office soon numbered more than 250 employees, forcing it to once again acquire new space. In June 1966, the main office moved into the entire ninth floor of the recently opened John F. Kennedy federal office building.

1970s

With the continuing opposition to the Vietnam War in the early 1970s, Boston witnessed some of its worst anti-war violence.

On September 24, 1970, two Brandeis University students—Katherine Power and Susan Saxe—joined three men in robbing the Massachusetts National Guard Armory in Newburyport and the State Street Bank in Brighton. Both robberies were committed to fund their anti-war protest activities. During the Brighton robbery, Boston Police Officer Walter Schroeder was shot and killed. The five terrorists immediately went into hiding, but the three men—William Gilday, Robert Valeri, and Stanley Bond—were quickly captured. Gilday, who had killed Officer Schroeder, received a life sentence.

The female fugitives were placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive list, and a massive search ensued. In 1975, Saxe was captured and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1993, after 23 years as a fugitive, Katherine Power negotiated her surrender with the FBI and the Boston Police Department. She was sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison for the bank robbery and five years for the National Guard Armory crime.

Other domestic terrorist groups were also investigated during the decade. From 1976 to 1978, Boston agents pursued the Sam Melville-Jonathan Jackson Unit, a terrorist group that used bombings to draw attention to its prisoner rights and anti-capitalist ideology. From April 1976 until October 1978, the group claimed eight successful bombings and one attempt in Massachusetts. The eight men were eventually captured and sent to prison.

1980s and 1990s

The 1980s saw the deepening of the FBI’s emphasis on law enforcement partnerships. In June 1983, the Boston Division formed its first Drug Task Force. In April 1986, the division spearheaded the creation of the New England Terrorist Task Force in cooperation with the Boston Police Department the Cambridge Police Department and the state police departments of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine. Other task forces were created and quickly became effective tools for combining the skills and strengths of New England law enforcement. These task forces remain a vital force today.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the division continued to disrupt organized crime, thanks to laws like the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act that allowed major cases to be built against the leadership of the mob for the first time.

In February 1986, after years of diligent investigation by Boston agents, Gennaro Anguilo—the Boston chief of the La Cosa Nostra (LCN) organized crime syndicate—and two of his brothers were convicted of racketeering. In October 1989, the division was able to install listening devices in the home of a major Providence, Rhode Island mob boss. The “bug” allowed them to record an entire mob induction ceremony, exposing the inner workings of the New England mafia like never before. These and other cases severely crippled the Boston branch of LCN.

One element of these organized crime investigations involved the relationship of James J. “Whitey” Bulger and the Boston Division. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Bulger—a major organized crime figure from South Boston—provided information to the Boston FBI, some of which dealt with mob activities. On January 10, 1995, he was indicted for violations of the RICO statute, including his activities while working as an FBI informant. Bulger fled Boston to avoid arrest and was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1999. In September 2000, he was indicted for additional crimes, including participation in the murders of 19 individuals. He was arrested on June 22, 2011 and convicted of murder and other charges and sentenced to prison in 2013. 

In 1990, the Boston Division was once again faced with solving a famous heist. On March 13 of that year, two men posing as Boston police officers gained access into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Once inside, they overpowered security guards and removed 13 works of art from the museum over the next 81 minutes. The stolen artwork was estimated to be worth as much as $500 million, making it the largest property crime in U.S. history. The pursuit of this theft and other art crimes in the area has been a key focus of the division since then.

By the mid 1990s, the Boston office had moved to its current location at One Center Plaza in the Government Center section of Boston. At that time, the office employed over 300 employees was averaging more than 6,000 criminal, security, and applicant investigations per year and was supervising 11 satellite offices, or resident agencies.

As the Boston Division was preparing for possible disruptions to computer systems due to a feared failure of computer-driven timing devices at the start of the new millennium, its agents and evidence experts were called upon to assist with the investigation of a terrible tragedy. On the evening of October 31, 1999, Egypt Air Flight 990 bound from New York to Cairo crashed into the Atlantic Ocean south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The aircraft wreckage was brought to a hanger at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. There, Boston Division personnel helped the National Transportation Safety Board sift through the debris, looking for evidence to help determine the cause of the disaster. After many painstaking and sometimes harrowing hours of work, it was determined that the tragedy was neither a criminal nor terrorist incident.

Post-9/11

The attacks of 9/11 had both an immediate and lasting impact on the Boston Division, like the rest of the Bureau. Two of the hijacked flights—American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, both of which were deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center—originated from Logan International Airport in Boston. And Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers, had traveled to Logan Airport via a connecting flight from Portland, Maine. Following up on these links kept the Boston Division’s agents extremely busy well into 2002.

Boston personnel examine the recovered wreckage of the Egypt Air crash.

Meanwhile, in December 2001, Richard Reid attempted to destroy American Airlines Flight 63 while it was traveling from Paris to Miami. His attempts to ignite a bomb in his shoe were thwarted by alert passengers, and the flight was diverted to Boston’s Logan International Airport. Boston agents took Reid into custody and conducted an extensive investigation into his actions and possible ties to the 9/11 bombers. In January 2003, he was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to life in prison.

In April 2012, following another investigation by Boston’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Tarek Mehanna from Sudbury, Massachusetts was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison on terrorism-related charges. Following an eight-week trial, Mehanna was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda, providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, conspiracy to make false statements to the FBI, and two counts of making false statements. According to testimony at trial, Mehanna and his co-conspirators discussed their desire to participate in violent jihad against American interests and their desire to die on the battlefield.

Seven months later, Rezwan Ferdaus was also sentenced to 17 years in prison for plotting an attack on the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol and for attempting to provide detonation devices to terrorists. Born in Ashland, Massachusetts, thousands of miles away from al Qaeda’s base, the 31-year-old used his physics degree in an attempt to craft planes strapped with explosives, which he later supplied to undercover FBI agents.

Terrorists struck at the heart of the division, this time on Patriots’ Day, April 15, 2013, when runners from all around the world set their watches and goals on the Boston Marathon finish line. As crowds of spectators were cheering the runners on, two self-radicalized brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, executed the first terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 by placing IEDs among the crowd. The brothers detonated the bombs seconds apart, killing three people and maiming and injuring many more and forcing a premature end to the race. Days later, on April 18, 2013, the brothers—armed with five IEDs, a Ruger P95 semi-automatic handgun, ammunition, a machete, and a hunting knife—drove their Honda Civic to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus, where they shot and killed MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and attempted to steal his service weapon. Following a five-day manhunt that culminated in a shoot-out with police in Watertown, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed, and his younger brother Dzhokhar was taken into custody after hiding out in a boat. He was charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy along with 29 additional terrorism related charges. Tsarnaev was convicted and formally sentenced to death in June 2015.

Today, the Boston Division employs approximately 600 agents and professional staff and supervises 10 resident agencies across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine. In line with the FBI’s focus, Boston has made counterterrorism, cyber, and intelligence operations its top priorities through the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Boston FBI Field Intelligence Group. In other investigative matters, the Boston Division continues to successfully pursue white-collar crime cases, investigating a wide variety of Medicare and health industry fraud, mortgage fraud, and embezzlement cases. Agents also avidly pursue child predators and pornographers who use the Internet to target their victims and organized crime figures who commit all manner of crimes. The Violent Crimes Task Force goes after serial bank robbers like the U30 Bandit, and the Safe Streets Gang Task Force continues to dismantle violent gangs in cities across New England.


First, they got their start -- and their name -- from none other than Boston, Massachusetts. The original members of Boston the band included Tom Scholz on guitar, Brad Delp as the vocalist, Barry Goudreau on guitar, and Jim Masdea on drums. Current members of the group include Tom Scholz, Gary Pihl, Michael Sweet, Tommy DeCarlo, Kimberley Dahme, and Jeff Neal.

Boston’s beginnings go back to 1969 and a band headed by guitarist Barry Goudreau called Mother’s Milk. Vocalist Brad Delp and drummer Jim Masdea were joined by a recent MIT graduate, Tom Scholz on keyboards. The band didn’t last, but its members spent time in a homemade recording studio in Scholz’s basement recording demo tapes in hopes of making a new start.

Those tapes eventually landed Boston a deal with Epic Records. In 1976, they released Boston, which saw more than 17 million in sales. At a time when disco and punk were starting to emerge as influences, Boston’s traditional rock sound was embraced by radio stations and record buyers.

Like other bands of the era who achieved major commercial success in a short time, there was internal dissension and a tenuous relationship with a record label anxious to capitalize on the huge success of the band’s first album. It would be two years before the band’s second album, Don’t Look Back was released, selling four million copies the first month, but ultimately selling only half as many as the first album. The band has released six albums, including a Greatest Hits compilation.

The legendary Rockman guitar amplifier was a product of Scholz’s own company, which he formed in the early ‘80s and later sold. Scholz and Delp were the only original members of Boston who were still with the band until March 2007 when Delp died at the age of 55. The band resumed touring in 2008 with new vocalists Michael Sweet (from the Christian metal band Stryper) and Tommy DeCarlo, a Boston fan who was recruited after posting some of his covers of Boston songs on MySpace. The band toured in 2015.

Their essential album is undoubtedly Boston. It went gold two months after its release, achieved platinum status the next month, and was ultimately certified 17 times platinum in 2003. It features the four original members, with the addition of Fran Sheehan on bass and Sib Hashian on drums. Every cut on the album can still be found on classic rock radio station playlists.


HISTORY OF THE BOSTON MARATHON

After experiencing the spirit and majesty of the Olympic Marathon, B.A.A. member and inaugural US Olympic Team Manager John Graham was inspired to organize and conduct a marathon in the Boston area. With the assistance of Boston businessman Herbert H. Holton, various routes were considered, before a measured distance of 24.5 miles from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston was eventually selected. On April 19, 1897, John J. McDermott of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field and captured the first B.A.A. Marathon in 2:55:10, and, in the process, forever secured his name in sports history.

In 1924, the course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to the Olympic standard, and the starting line was moved west from Ashland to Hopkinton.

The Marathon Distance

The 1896 Olympic marathon distance of 24.8 miles was based on the distance run, according to famous Greek legend, in which the Greek foot-soldier Pheidippides was sent from the plains of Marathon to Athens with the news of the astounding victory over a superior Persian army. Exhausted as he approached the leaders of the City of Athens, he staggered and gasped, “Rejoice! We Conquer!” and then collapsed.

The marathon distance was later changed as a result of the 1908 Olympic Games in London. That year, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria wanted the marathon race to begin at Windsor Castle outside the city so that the Royal family could view the start. The distance between the castle and the Olympic Stadium in London proved to be 26 miles. Organizers added extra yards to the finish around a track, 385 to be exact, so the runners would finish in front of the king and queen’s royal box. For the 1912 Olympics, the length was changed to 40.2 kilometers (24.98 miles) and changed again to 42.75 kilometers (26.56 miles) for the 1920 Olympics. In fact, of the first seven Olympic Games, there were six different marathon distances between 40 and 42.75 kilometers. By 1924, the distance was standardized for all future Olympic marathons at 42 kilometers (26 miles, 385 yards).

On a Monday: The Patriots’ Day Race

From 1897-1968, the Boston Marathon was held on Patriots’ Day, April 19, a holiday commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War and recognized only in Massachusetts and Maine. The lone exception was when the 19th fell on Sunday. In those years, the race was held the following day (Monday the 20th). However, in 1969, the holiday was officially moved to the third Monday in April. Since 1969 the race has traditionally been held on the third Monday in April.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Boston Marathon was originally postponed from April to September and ultimately run as a Virtual Experience. The 2021 race will be the first in-person Boston Marathon not held in April it is scheduled for Monday, October 11, 2021.

Women Run to the Front

Roberta Gibb was the first woman to run the full Boston Marathon in 1966. Gibb, who did not run with an official race number during any of the three years (1966-68) that she was the first female finisher, hid in the bushes near the start until the race began. In 1967, Katherine Switzer did not clearly identify herself as a female on the race application and was issued a bib number. B.A.A. officials tried unsuccessfully to physically remove Switzer from the race once she was identified as a woman entrant. At the time of Switzer’s run, the Amateur Athletics Union (A.A.U.) had yet to formally accept participation of women in long distance running. When the A.A.U. permitted its sanctioned marathons (including Boston) to allow women entry in the fall of 1971, Nina Kuscsik’s 1972 B.A.A. victory the following spring made her the first official champion. Eight women started that race and all eight finished.

First to Sponsor the Wheelchair Division

The Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division competition when it officially recognized Bob Hall in 1975. With a time of two hours, 58 minutes, he collected on a promise by then Race Director Will Cloney that if he finished in less than three hours, he would receive an official B.A.A. Finisher’s Certificate. American wheelchair competitors Jean Driscoll and Jim Knaub helped to further establish and popularize the division.

Olympic Champions at Boston

Three-time defending women’s champion Fatuma Roba became the fourth person to win the Olympic Games Marathon and the B.A.A. Boston Marathon when she posted a 2:26:23 to win the 1997 Boston Marathon. Roba, who won the 1996 Olympic Marathon, joined fellow-women’s champions Joan Benoit, who won Boston in 1979 and 1983, before adding the 1984 Olympic Games title and Rosa Mota (POR), who won a trio of Boston crowns (1987, 1988, and 1990), while adding the 1988 Olympic title. Gelindo Bordin (ITA) is the only male to win the Olympic (1988) and Boston (1990) titles.

Milestones

Tuesday, March 15, 1887: The Boston Athletic Association was established, and construction began soon after on the B.A.A. Clubhouse at the corner of Exeter and Blagden Streets.

Summer 1896: The marathon at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 served as the inspiration for the B.A.A. Boston Marathon. John Graham, coach and manager of the B.A.A. athletes, was a keen observer of the Marathon-to-Athens Race and returned to Boston with plans to institute a strikingly similar long-distance run the following spring.

Monday, April 19, 1897: The Boston Marathon was originally called the American Marathon and was the final event of the B.A.A. Games. The first running of the Boston Marathon commenced at the site of Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland and finished at the Irvington Street Oval near Copley Square. John J. McDermott, of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field to capture the inaugural Boston Marathon.

Tuesday, April 19, 1898: In its second running, the Boston Marathon welcomed its first foreign champion when 22-year-old Boston College student Ronald J. MacDonald of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, won the race in 2:42:00. MacDonald’s accomplishment foreshadowed the international appeal the race would later attract. Today, 24 countries can claim a Boston Marathon Open Division (men’s and women’s) champion. The United States leads the list with 53 triumphs.

Thursday, April 19, 1900: Race winner John P. Caffery was followed across the line by runner-up Bill Sheering and third-place finisher Fred Hughson, providing Canada with a sweep of the top three places. To date, only five nations have swept the top three places Canada (1900), Korea (1950), Japan (1965 and 1966), Kenya (six times, including 2012 when it swept both the men’s and women’s races), and United States (35 times, which includes 29 times for men and six times for women). Kenya rounded out the list of nations in 1996 when that country’s men swept the top six spots. Also, Kenyan men placed first through fourth in 2002 first through fifth in 2003 and first through fourth in 2004. The United States, which has swept the top three spots on 31 occasions, leads all nations. At the inaugural Boston Marathon in 1897, all 10 finishers were from the United States.

Wednesday, April 19, 1911: The legendary Clarence H. DeMar of Melrose, Massachusetts, won his first of seven Boston Marathon titles. However, on the advice of medical experts, DeMar initially “retired” from the sport following his first title. He later won six titles between 1922 and 1930, including three consecutive titles from 1922 through 1924. DeMar was 41 years old when he won his final title in 1930.

Friday, April 19, 1918: Due to American involvement in World War I, the traditional Patriots’ Day race underwent a change of format but preserved its perennial nature. A 10-man military relay race was contested on the course, and the team from Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, bested the field in 2:24:53.

Saturday, April 19, 1924: The course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to the Olympic standard, and the starting line was moved west from Ashland to Hopkinton.

Thursday, April 19, 1928: John A. “The Elder” Kelley made his Boston Marathon debut. Kelley, who won the race in 1935 and again in 1945, posted the record for most Boston Marathons started (61) and finished (58). His final race came in 1992 at the age of 84. Meanwhile, Clarence H. DeMar captured his second straight title. To date, only nine open division men’s champions have returned to successfully defend their titles. DeMar is the only one to have recorded consecutive triumphs on more than one occasion (1922–24 and 1927–28).

Monday, April 20, 1936: The last of Newton’s hills was given the nickname “Heartbreak Hill” by Boston Globe reporter Jerry Nason. When John A. Kelley caught eventual champion Ellison “Tarzan” Brown on the Newton hills, Kelley made a friendly gesture of tapping Brown on the shoulder. Brown responded by regaining the lead on the final hill, and as Nason reported, “breaking Kelley’s heart.”

Saturday, April 19, 1941: Leslie S. Pawson of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, joined Clarence H. DeMar as the only men to win the race three times or more. Pawson first won the race in 1933 and added a second title in 1938. The pair has since been joined by Gerard A. Cote, Bill Rodgers, Eino Oksanen, Ibrahim Hussein, Cosmas Ndeti, and Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot.

Saturday, April 19, 1947: For the first time in the history of the men’s open race, a world best was established at the Boston Marathon when Korean Yun Bok Suh turned in a 2:25:39 performance.

Monday, April 19, 1948: The Boston Marathon crowned its second four-time champion when Gerard A. Cote of Hyacinthe, Quebec, edged B.A.A. runner Ted Vogel. Cote’s first triumph came in 1940, and he added back-to-back wins in 1943 and 1944. To date, only DeMar, Cote, Bill Rodgers, and Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot have won the men’s open race four or more times.

Saturday, April 20, 1957: John J. Kelley became the first and currently lone B.A.A. club member to win the Boston Marathon. In addition, from 1946 to 1967, Kelley was the only American to win the race.

Tuesday, April 19, 1966: Although not an official entrant, Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Joining the starting field shortly after the gun had been fired, Gibb finished the race in 3:21:40 to place 126th overall. Gibb again claimed the “unofficial” title in 1967 and 1968.

Wednesday, April 19, 1967: By signing her entry form “K. V. Switzer,” Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to receive a number in the Boston Marathon. By her own estimate, Switzer finished in 4:20:00.

Monday, April 21, 1969: The Boston Marathon has always been held on the holiday commemorating Patriots’ Day. Beginning in 1969, the holiday became officially recognized as the third Monday in April.

Monday, April 20, 1970: Qualifying standards were introduced. The official B.A.A. entry form stated, “A runner must submit the certification. that he has trained sufficiently to finish the course in less than four hours.”

Monday, April 17, 1972: Women were allowed to officially run the Boston Marathon, and Nina Kuscsik emerged from an eight-member field to win the race in 3:10:26.

Monday, April 21, 1975: A trio of stories emerged from this race, as Bill Rodgers collected his first of four titles, Bob Hall became the first officially recognized participant to complete the course in a wheelchair, and Liane Winter of West Germany established a women’s world best of 2:42:24. Hall was granted permission to enter the race provided that he covered the distance in under three hours. Hall finished in 2:58:00, signaling the start of the wheelchair division in the race.

Monday, April 19, 1982: Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley became the first two runners to break 2:09:00 in the same race after dueling one another for first place over the final nine miles. Salazar emerged victorious from the thrilling final sprint to the finish in 2:08:52, with Beardsley just two seconds behind.

Monday, April 18, 1983: Joan Benoit won her second Boston Marathon in a world best time of 2:22:43. Benoit, who won the inaugural women’s Olympic Marathon the following year, became the first person to win the Boston and Olympic Marathons.

Monday, April 15, 1985: Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach, who placed fourth at the 1984, 1988, and 1992 U.S. Olympic trials Marathon, handily won the women’s race in 2:34:06 and remains the most recent American women’s open division champion at Boston.

Monday, April 21, 1986: Through the generous support of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial Services, prize money was awarded for the first time, and Robert de Castella of Australia earned $60,000 and a Mercedes-Benz for finishing first in a course record time of 2:07:51. On the women’s side, Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway captured her first of two Boston Marathon titles in 2:24:55. She received $39,000 and a Mercedes-Benz. (Kristiansen won her second title in 1989.)

Monday, April 18, 1988: Kenya’s Ibrahim Hussein finished one second ahead of Tanzania’s Juma Ikangaa, and became the first African to win the Boston Marathon, or any other major marathon.

Monday, April 16, 1990: Jean Driscoll of Champaign, Illinois, won her first of seven consecutive wheelchair division races. John Campbell of New Zealand established a world masters best of 2:11:04, finishing fourth overall.

Monday, April 18, 1994: World best performances were established in the men’s and women’s wheelchair divisions, while course records fell in the men’s and women’s open divisions. For the fifth consecutive year, Jean Driscoll posted a world best to win the women’s wheelchair division, while Heinz Frei of Switzerland set the men’s world best to mark the 12th time the record had been established at Boston. Cosmas Ndeti of Kenya lowered the course record to 2:07:15, while Uta Pippig set the women’s standard at 2:21:45.

Monday, April 17, 1995: Cosmas Ndeti crossed the line first in 2:09:22 to join Bill Rodgers and Clarence H. DeMar as another champion to have won the race three consecutive years. Between 2006 and 2008, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot would also win three straight crowns.

Monday, April 15, 1996: The historic 100th running of the Boston Marathon attracted 38,708 entrants (36,748 starters) and had 35,868 official finishers, which stood as the largest field of finishers in the history of the sport until 2004 (New York City: 37,257 starters 36,544 finishers). Uta Pippig overcame a 30-second deficit and severe dehydration, among other difficulties, to become the first woman of the official era to win the race three consecutive years.

Monday, April 21, 1997: Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia became the fourth person to win the Boston and Olympic Marathons, and the first African woman to win the Boston Marathon. Two years later, she would become the second woman of the official era to win the race three consecutive years.

Monday, April 17, 2000: After seven consecutive victories (1990–96) followed by three years as runner-up (1997–99), Jean Driscoll won an unprecedented eighth title in the wheelchair division, moving her past legendary Hall of Famer Clarence H. DeMar for most all-time victories at Boston. Catherine Ndereba became the first Kenyan woman to win the Boston Marathon Elijah Lagat, also of Kenya, was first to the finish in the men’s race, marking the 10th consecutive year a runner from his country won the title. Both the men’s and women’s races were the closest in history.

Monday, April 15, 2002: Two records were set in the women’s race when Margaret Okayo of Kenya dethroned two-time defending champion Catherine Ndereba in 2:20:43, and Russian Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova broke the 14-year-old masters record with her 2:27:58 victory.

Monday, April 21, 2003: The Boston Marathon qualifying times were adjusted for the first time since 1990, and the maximum field size was set at 20,000 official entrants.

Monday, April 19, 2004: To better showcase the women’s elite field, the B.A.A. implemented a separate start for the top female runners. In a dramatic change to race format, 35 national- and international-caliber women began at 11:31 a.m. (29 minutes before the rest of the field and the traditional noon start). Also, Ernst Van Dyk, of South Africa, made history in the push rim wheelchair division when he won for the fourth consecutive year in a world record time of 1:18:27, and he became the first person to ever crack the 1:20:00 barrier.

Monday, April 18, 2005: Catherine Ndereba became the first four-time winner of the women’s open division. Ernst Van Dyk added to his record for consecutive wins in the men’s push rim wheelchair division, capturing his fifth straight title. In Tallil, Iraq, 41 U.S. servicemen and women completed the first-ever Boston Marathon in Iraq that same day.

Monday, April 17, 2006: In one of the most significant changes in Boston Marathon history, the field was divided into two starting waves, with 10,000 runners beginning at the traditional noon starting time, and the remainder of the runners starting at 12:30 p.m. In addition to the two-wave start, the Marathon for the first time scored the event by net (chip) time. Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot beat Cosmas Ndeti’s 12-year-old course record by one second, while Rita Jeptoo, Jelena Prokopcuka, and Reiko Tosa provided the women’s division’s closest-ever 1-2-3 finish.

Monday, April 16, 2007: For the second year in a row the start of the race underwent a major change, this time with the start time being rolled back to 10:00 a.m. The push rim wheelchair race featured the first two Japanese champions in the history of that division, with Masazumi Soejima and Wakako Tsuchida winning the men’s and women’s titles, respectively.

Monday, April 21, 2008: Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot won his fourth total, and third consecutive, Boston title, joining Clarence H. DeMar, Gerard Cote, and Bill Rodgers as the only men to have won the race at least four times.

Monday, April 19, 2010: Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot from Kenya established a new men’s course record by 82 seconds with a time of 2:05:52. In the men’s push rim wheelchair division, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa won in 1:26:53 and became the most successful Boston Marathon competitor of all time, with his ninth title. The race marked 25 years of partnership between principal sponsor John Hancock and the B.A.A. The official charity program surpassed the $100 million mark in 2010.

Monday, April 18, 2011: Geoffrey Mutai from Kenya set a new course record, as well as a new world’s best time of 2:03:02. The top four men all finished under the old course record. Caroline Kilel of Kenya just outlasted Desiree Davila of the United States to win in 2:22:36. The push rim wheelchair division had an emotional element all its own, with both men’s and women’s victories going to Japan - this just after the earthquake that had struck that country. Masazumi Soejima finished ahead of Kurt Fearnley and Ernst Van Dyk in a winning time of 1:18:50. Once again, records were set for female entrants (11,462) and finishers (10,074).

Monday, April 16, 2012: Weather conditions reached almost 90 degrees along the course. The heat did not affect Canada’s Josh Cassidy, who pulled away early to win the push rim wheelchair division in 1:18:25, breaking Ernst Van Dyk’s course record by two seconds. Due to the warm-weather forecast, anyone who decided to pick up a bib but chose not to run the race was given automatic deferment to the 2013 Boston Marathon. After timing adjudication post-race, 2,160 runners became eligible for this offer. The 500,000th finisher in the 116-year history of the Boston Marathon crossed the finish line.

Monday, April 21, 2014: In a triumphant victory, American Mebrahtom (Meb) Keflezighi crossed the finish first on Boylston Street in a personal best of 2:08:37. Keflezighi was spurred on by the memories of those impacted by the tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon, becoming the first American man to win the open race since Greg Meyer in 1983. Rita Jeptoo of Kenya ran a course record of 2:18:57 to claim her second consecutive (and third overall) Boston Marathon win. In the men’s push rim wheelchair division, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa won his 10th Boston Marathon title, while Tatyana McFadden of the United States retained the women’s crown.

Monday, April 18, 2016: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb’s 1966 run to become the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon, officials announced that the era between 1966 and 1971 would no longer be known as the “Unofficial Era.” Rather, this time period would be known as the “Pioneer Era” going forward. As a symbol of appreciation and thanks for her role in the women’s running movement, women’s winner Atsede Baysa gifted her Champion’s Trophy to Gibb. Gibb served as the 2016 Boston Marathon Grand Marshal.

Monday, April 16, 2018: Prevailing in some of the worst weather conditions in race history were American Desiree Linden and Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi. Driving rain and very strong winds made it tough for all participants, yet did not stop Linden from becoming the first U.S. woman in 33 years to win the open division. Kawauchi was the first Japanese men’s champion since 1987. In recognition of the B.A.A.’s Year of Service, a Military Relay team of 16 servicemen and women passed a baton from Hopkinton to Boston in honor of the centennial anniversary of the 1918 Boston Marathon Military Relay.

September 5-14, 2020: For the first time, the Boston Marathon was not held on its traditional April date. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Patriots’ Day race was postponed to September and ultimately converted into a Virtual Experience. Participants brought the spirit of the Boston Marathon to neighborhoods around the world, covering 26.2 miles virtually in their neighborhoods. A total of 16,183 finishers from all 50 U.S. states and nearly 90 countries completed the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience, earning the coveted unicorn finisher medal.

WEATHER CONDITIONS
YEAR HOPKINTON TEMP* BOSTON TEMP** WIND SKY
2000 50 47 N/NE 7–12 mph Cloudy
2001 53 54 N/NE 1–5 mph Partly Cloudy
2002 53 56 N/NE 1–5 mph Mostly Cloudy
2003 70 59 Variable 3–8 mph Clear
2004 83 86 WSW/SW/W 8–11 mph
2005 70 66 E/NE 5–8 mph Clear
2006 55 53 Calm Clear
2007 47 50 E/ESE 20–30 mph Overcast and Rain
2008 53 53 W 2 mph Clear
2009 51 47 E/SE 9–16 mph Partly Cloudy
2010 49 55 E/NE 2–5 mph Partly Cloudy
2011 46 55 W/SW 16–20 mph Clear
2012 65 87 W/SW 10–20 mph Clear
2013 56 54 E 3mph Clear
2014 61 62 WSW 2–3 mph Clear
2015 46 46 Calm Overcast and Rain
2016 71 61 WSW 2-3 mph Clear
2017 70 73 WSW1-3 mph Clear
2018 42 46 ENE 2-5 mph Heavy Rain
2019 58 61 WNW 1-2 mph Overcast, Partly Rain

*Based on start of Wave One
**Based on winner of men's race


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