Season’s Greetings | Now & Then | A Continuous Lean.

Season’s Greetings | Now & Then

Dec 25th, 2012 | Categories: History, Photography | by Michael Williams


A fitting set of images and sentiments for today. The Boston Public Library has an incredible set of old-time winter scenes shot in and around Boston during the early 20th century. What’s piques my attention in these photographs is the fact that many of the pictured moments are so similar to those of today —from snow filled streets to a towering stack of Christmas trees— though the times are obviously vastly different. To see the packages piled high at the train depot (South Station I believe), the range of photos of people digging out from blankets of snow and the empty nighttime streets after what must have been cold hard days fill me with ideas about what life must have been like way back then.



It is good to reflect on how much change has come in the time since these photos, but it’s also nice to know that some things don’t change. When I talk about (and celebrate) the heritage of companies, part of the historical appeal to me comes from the (sometimes fallacious) idea that these old products allow me the chance to interact with a thing in the same way that people before my time did. To put it more simply, those things  connect me to the past. To walk literally in the same boots of an American man who lived generations before me is a concept that I am drawn to. While that sounds better in concept than practice, certain things —a pair of 1944 Levi’s 501s, some Red Wing 877s— posses as much of a glimmer of the past to me as these photos do. That’s where the celebration of nostalgia takes root for me. It’s not just for wanting of a “more simple time”, it is more about having a connection to the people that came before me.

The easy pace and calm of the holidays have allowed for the time to reflect on both the moments that have gone and the ones still to come. With an eye on what’s to come in the new year, here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season to all of you.



Winter_Boston_22 Winter_Boston_23







Winter_Boston_06 Winter_Boston_07





Winter_Boston_12 Winter_Boston_13


Related: Kodachrome Christmas memories.

All images courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Comments: 10

10 Comments to “Season’s Greetings | Now & Then”

  1. Sam
    on Dec 26th, 2012
    @ 1:10 PM

    These are great! Can you find more of these images online anywhere?

  2. Sean Curran
    on Dec 26th, 2012
    @ 1:23 PM

    There is a link right at the beginning of the article. The BPL has the most amazing database, and i’ve scoured it for years. Is there others out there on the level? For other cities?

  3. Ray Hull
    on Dec 26th, 2012
    @ 3:33 PM

    I’m trying to figure out that snow-eating machine that looks like Zamboni meets snow-blower. Maybe if I could see the exit chute I’d have a better idea of how it works. Delightful shots, especially the Post Office when they really worked to serve ( as opposed to now when they closed the windows at noon on Christmas Eve).

  4. Andy
    on Dec 26th, 2012
    @ 4:45 PM

    Thanks for sharing. One can see not only history, but character, and the way people once were, in one of the great unique places on Earth: Boston, MA.

  5. Matt Dougan
    on Dec 26th, 2012
    @ 4:57 PM

    outstanding photos!

  6. designer frames
    on Dec 27th, 2012
    @ 7:12 AM

    lovely and amazing photography! good work!

  7. Those Who Make
    on Dec 28th, 2012
    @ 4:57 PM

    These photos are great – I have to suggest (although not holiday related) another “timeless” set of photos –

  8. Jordan
    on Jan 2nd, 2013
    @ 12:10 PM

    These really remind me of It’s A Wonderful Life. Great shots.

  9. Jessica
    on Jan 3rd, 2013
    @ 8:39 PM

    These images are almost unreal. Amazing.

  10. morgan
    on Jan 4th, 2013
    @ 2:11 PM

    The BPL archive is seriously amazing. When I lived in Boston I’d spend hours looking through photos of neighborhoods that became victims of urban renewal (like the west end) and wonder what happened. I can be a city even today that feels frozen in time (puns intended). That said, I don’t miss that snow and the surprisingly conservative nature and the so-called “New England Reserve” at all.