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Life on the Corner: Solving a North End Mystery

George Scigliano’s funeral procession

A while ago I wrote an essay entitled A North End Mystery featuring the above photograph of what is likely depicting George Scigliano’s funeral procession. You may recall that there was some discussion as to whether the picture was taken in Boston and what street it was. I’ve been doing some further research and I may have an answer.

The street looks like Congress Street where it meets Hanover. All the buildings on the right side are gone and were razed to build City Hall Plaza. The buildings on the left side are also lost and the pedestrian mall is now there. The layout of the streets was also altered so the sight lines today are not exactly congruent with what was there a hundred years ago.

Post Office Square

The building with the tower was the New England Mutual Life Insurance Company. It occupies the space where the Post Office Square park is. It was built around 1872 and torn down in 1946.

Have a look at the two photos and let me know what you see.

Below is a nice picture of the New England Mutual Life Insurance Co. taken around 1902, courtesy of the Bostonian Society.

It was built after the Great Fire of 1872 which destroyed much of the Financial District. The view is looking South from Congress St. The Post Office Square park is now on this site. You can see the cobblestone streets and all the trolley car tracks which look very similar to those in the mystery photo.

This is undoubtedly Boston. The building was demolished in 1946 and left as a cobblestone plaza until 1954 when a two story garage was built.

New England Mutual Life Insurance Company 1902 (Courtesy of the Bostonian Society)

I’m open to other suggestions but I think I’m correct. If so, the mystery picture I published may well be the only image still in existence of George Scigliano’s funeral procession. An interesting bit of North End history.

Nicholas Dello Russo is a lifelong North Ender and columnist. Often using vintage photographs, Nick tells the stories of growing up in the North End along with its culture and traditions. It was a time when the apartments were so small that residents were always on the streets enjoying “Life on the Corner.” Read more of Nick’s columns.

6 Replies to “Life on the Corner: Solving a North End Mystery

  1. I think the photo is plainly looking down State Street toward the Custom House Tower, probably from the Old State House. The shape of the Custom House Tower is unique and doesn’t match up with the NE Mutu building tower.

    1. That was my original thought, Erik, but someone pointed out that the Custom House tower wasn’t added until 1913. The picture was taken much earlier than that as evidenced by the kind of trolley cars, the clothing of the people and the lack of automobiles.
      I then thought it was Union St. but I couldn’t find the Union Oyster House.
      Thanks for the comment, we live in an interesting neighborhood.

  2. I love all of your stories and pictures of the north end please don’t Eva stop do u have a book u have written or not u should I would the first to buy one Lol my blood runs the colors of the north end for eva

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