>> Saturday, April 17, 2010

As we start to think more seriously about packing up and moving, I have been getting a little sentimental about leaving what I consider to be the best apartment location in Boston. We ended up here on a fluke, it was the last of 17 apartments we saw last year on a whirlwind real estate tour. It was the only South End apartment on our list, had a washer and dryer in unit, so we took it. Who wouldn't fall in love with this street?
And have I ever mentioned that I share a zip code with this?
This is the view from the end of our street.
If you are not a Bostonian or an architecture buff, this is the John Hancock Tower designed by this cute man.
Hilda had some stories about  I.M. Pei. Apparently he was quite the bargain shopper. Hilda should write a blog, it would be way better than mine. The John Hancock tower has quite an interesting story on it's own. 
Boston is an infill city, meaning, we're all living on a bunch of dirt that was trucked in from Dorchester and Quincy. Boston used to be a much smaller city.

So our city is not very tall like NYC, because the ground underneath is not rock. It's dirt. Buildings would fall down. So the John Hancock is one of very few Boston skyscrapers. The shape and orientation of the building was designed so that when the sun hit it at a certain angle, a large shadow covers the city, making it's presence known. Architects are so modest aren't they? The mirrored glass was selected to reflect the city in all it's splendor and at sunset it casts a magnificent golden line across the Charles River. Anyway, so that's the history, here is the drama....the windows fell out, 2,472 windows to be exact.
I've been told that the engineer designed the frames too rigid and when the building swayed (which was also not good) the glass just popped right out or shattered. So to fix the glass they had to fix the sway. I hear that back in the day when you used the toilet in the upper floors, the water used to slosh all around in the bowl. That would probably make me too nervous to go. So to fix it (keep in mind I am an Interior Designer, explaining structural engineering, so this could be a bit off) they craned a huge beam to the roof of the building and sat it basically in a bed of oil, with springs on both ends. The whole roof contraption helped counterbalance the wind loads and fixed the swaying building and falling windows. They also added a bunch of steel to stiffen it up. And they no longer call it the largest plywood skyscraper.


Katy April 17, 2010 at 10:34 AM  

I used to live, basically across the street, in 02118 (right on Tremont) when I was in grad school at BU's med campus. And I still miss it to my core everyday. Now I'm in the equally beautiful south (Atlanta) for med school, but those brownstones...aah!...there's nothing like that down here! So glad you're not leaving the city entirely! Hopefully I'll be back in Boston for my residency (like Mr./Dr. Sabbe!) Love your blog!

Laura April 17, 2010 at 11:00 AM  

I used to work at Trinity Church, right next to the John Hancock. Did you know that when they built that building it was SO HEAVY that it actually CRACKED Trinity's foundation? They've been working to restore and repair the damages for the past few years but DANG that's a heavy building.

Also, another reason the built the building the way they did (kitty corner to Clarendon St) was to not block the view of the church when walking down clarendon. And the building across the street (Houghton Mifflin building I believe) created arched windows on the facade to reflect the architecture of Trinity. So funny how some buildings influence newer ones to "fit in" and get a long. :)

Jo April 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM  

this was fascinating and i don't normally find stuff like that fascinating! i can't wait to tell my boston relatives my new fun fact :)

Lili April 17, 2010 at 6:17 PM  

Ooooh! I feel like I get smarter reading your blog. Who knew that such a "heavy set" building could have so much of a story. =)

I'm not sure you ever said why you're leaving such a beautiful street?

Rebecca April 18, 2010 at 3:40 AM  

Wow that was so interesting! Crazy how the windows fell out, and I didn't know Boston was built on a pile of rubble! I've gotta tell my husband now - I feel so knowledgeable now I've read your post :)

Carmen April 18, 2010 at 9:23 AM  

Oh my gosh! That street!! *swoon*

carlee April 18, 2010 at 5:04 PM  

I love the South End. I'm so glad we got to take a little walk before you moved! When is the big date? You need help?

Saara @ GEORGE Interior Design April 18, 2010 at 9:20 PM  

i'm in LOVE with your street!! makes me really miss east coast living. you just don't get those amazing trees out here in California!

Annelise April 18, 2010 at 10:40 PM  

What a beautiful street! My street is pretty, but not THAT pretty.

I'm excited to see how you decorate the next place!

Design Esquire April 19, 2010 at 9:55 AM  

Great post. My husband used to work in the Hancock, and I guess they were testing something a few years ago and the whole building started swaying and a bunch of people (including a few in my husband's department) called 911. It apparently scared them all, a lot.

Haven and Home April 19, 2010 at 10:04 AM  

This was such an interesting post. I loved the history, of which I had no idea. How great that you live on such a great street with an architectural gem in eye sight. How long do you have there?

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