The South Boston Historical Society held its meeting on Monday. The guest speaker was Jim Botticelli, who assembled, created and wrote “Dirty Old Boston.” This is a lengthy photographic journey through the City of Boston during four decades, from the end of World War II through 1987, when the current mega-reconstruction first put down its roots. Said reconstruction was watered and fertilized by the original, authoritarian Boston Redevelopment Authority. The West End demolition actually came years after the first demo of the so-called “New York Streets” in the South End. Only Albany Street remains.
Botticelli’s book (284 pages) came out less than two years ago, but is already in its second, 7,000 copy printing. The majority of the photographs in “Dirty Old Boston” are black-and-white, or more accurately, varying modulations of gray. It is a compelling selection of hundreds of pictures, all of which depict a Boston that will frequently “click” in the viewer’s/reader’s memory. How many of the streets in “Dirty Old Boston” might you have walked, how many of those places have you been, even those that weren’t here in South Boston?
“Dirty Old Boston” is currently being made into a movie. It won’t be a “Good Will Hunting” knockoff; the “Dirty Old Boston” pictures are more evocative of “The Friend of Eddie Coyle.” It’ll be a labor of love, so there’s no need to pay taxes on what you earn, because earn you won’t. It was a great lecture, followed by many questions.
While it’s difficult to draw conclusions from still photos, you know something? The people in the photographs looked happier back then – 40+ years ago!