Throwback Thursday: When Boston Was a 24-Hour Town…in 1980

What happened to us?

Boston 24 hours

Three years ago, in the twilight of Tom Menino administration, Karmaloop offshoot nonprofit Future Boston Alliance released a video posing the question, “What if Boston had a nightlife?” Sure, Boston has no shortage of bars. But what if they were open later than 1 a.m.? What if some restaurants and gyms were open around the clock, with a transportation system to ferry nighthawks to and fro? Though Mayor Marty Walsh has made marginal progress, including rolled-out then scaled-back late-night MBTA service, it still might feel like we’re just playing another game of “Big City.”

Apparently, this was not a problem in November 1980, when Boston magazine ran a cover story on late night in the Hub “exploring the city’s last frontier.”

“There was a time, not too long ago, when Boston was a strictly a daytime town,” Curtis Hartman wrote. “From nine to five, the city streets were filled with bankers and insurance executives, lawyers and merchants, a few of whom might linger after work for cocktails or the theater. But there were no night owls—Boston had a reputation for rolling up the sidewalks shortly after dark.”

Sound familiar?

The feature includes listings of popular late-night restaurants, open until 2, 3, even 4 a.m. Many did not age well. A sampling:

  • Aegean Fare, 539 Commonwealth Ave. — Now a salon.
  • Aku-Aku Restaurant, 390 Commonwealth Ave. — Now luxury condominiums.
  • Beef and Ale House, 274 Tremont St. — Now Tufts Medical Center’s parking garage.
  • Bob Lee’s Islander, 20 Tyler St. — Now an aquarium store and fish shop.
  • Buzzy’s Roast Beef, 327 Cambridge St. — Gone.
  • Café Vendôme, 160 Commonwealth Ave. — Now luxury condominiums.
  • Far East Restaurant, 183 Massachusetts Ave. — Now an optometrist.
  • Averof Restaurant, 1924 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge — Planned site of a boutique hotel.
  • Jaff’s, 299 Harvard St., Brookline — Now a Panera.
  • Nadia’s Eastern Star Restaurant, 280 Shawmut Ave. — Now a yoga studio.
  • The Original Restaurant, 799 Main St., Cambridge — Now a Bertucci’s.

It’s comforting to know that even in 1980, you could bowl whenever your heart desired at Dorchester’s Boston Bowl at 820 Morrissey Boulevard, just as you can today.


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