Throwback Thursday: Scenes from Boston’s Bygone Waterfront
Boston’s maritime legacy predates the city itself—even before Boston was founded, folks were fishing off the coast of Massachusetts. In fact, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, explorer Bartholomew Gosnold was so impressed by the amount of cod in the water, he changed the name of Cape Saint James to Cape Cod in 1602.
Fishing has been a cornerstone of the region’s economy since its beginnings, and the hub of the industry in Boston has long been anchored by the Boston Fish Pier. Opened in South Boston in 1914, the pier is now owned and operated by the Massachusetts Port Authority. It’s one of the last vestiges of the neighborhood’s industrial roots, and currently supports more than 3,000 jobs. Much has changed around the pier over the years—today, it’s surrounded by glass towers and upscale restaurants—but the place manages to maintain its salty character.
Catch a glimpse of Boston’s bygone waterfront below through the lens of Leslie Jones. Jones captured countless snapshots of daily life in Boston during his 39-year-long career at the Boston Herald-Traveler. His work is preserved on digitalcommonwealth.org, a digital archive of the Boston Public Library.
Check out photos of the Fish Pier and other spots below to take a step back in time.
Carts ready for swordfish arriving at the Fish Pier in South Boston in 1947.
A lobsterman sits on a lobster trap, tending to a rope.
Boston fishermen deboard the Sea Bee.
Two men rest in a hand cart at the Fish Pier.
Men load swordfish onto a cart at the Fish Pier.
A group of boys stands among lobster traps.