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Historical Neighborhood Photo: Festival on Hanover Street

Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Ask any Bostonian about the North End and it is likely they’ll mention the festivals, or ‘feasts,’ organized each summer. These events are designed to honor patron saints of various regions throughout Italy and have brought hundreds of thousands to the area for almost a century! Here is an old photo of a festival on Hanover Street circa 1930.

The festivals have certainly become a neighborhood tradition that isn’t going away anytime soon! See our coverage from the last feast season.

10 Replies to “Historical Neighborhood Photo: Festival on Hanover Street

  1. Looking for information regarding the individual who was responsible for many years in the design and preparation of the overhead street decorations for the various religious festivals in North End, Boston.
    Thank you for this courtesy.

    1. Antonio Matarrazzo. His family is still around. and some of his designs survive, but are not use anymore.

  2. Awesome picture it’s always a plesure attending every feast/procession even helping out sometimes. This is a tradition that will stick forever for generations to come !!!

    1. I wish that were the case. Unfortunately, the feasts are getting pushed out. Even 25 years ago there were over 15 feasts. Now they are down to 4. Within a few years it will probably drop down to 2. The city has made it more and more difficult for the feasts to survive. These societies simply cannot afford to hold the event. Only the big ones will survive, St. Anthony’s and the Fisherman’s. I grew up at St. Joseph’s and unfortunately it will never be the same.

      1. how has the city made it difficult for the feasts to survive? are you sure it is just not changing demographics? in my opinion, the feasts need a a bit of a reset. the processions may be nice, but everything else amounts to a bad parking lot carnival. not to mention the out of control teenagers who overtake the neighborhood.

      2. Ah the once an article tradition of “The City ruins everything” Funny how the comment section on this website constantly bashes “the city” yet the neighborhood meetings remain empty and voter turn out is just as poor. It’s easy to hate on an entity that you choose to know nothing about or try to get involved in. Makes it even easier that these comments come from people who moved out of the North End 20 years ago but still want to dictate what goes on in the place they left behind all for a backyard and parking spot. Give the bashing a break and enjoy a nice picture for once!

  3. The city makes it difficult in a finacial way. Meaning the permits have gotten expensive. The police and fire details have gotten out of hand cost wise . I know they are a necessity. Also the health permits, as well as liability insurance. Then you have othe rexpenses to run a Feast. You need to hire entertainment. Also bands for for the procession. then ther is trash contractors and port-o-potties. Yes some do appear as a carnivale type atmospher, not all. As far as the teenagers, they come from out of town just to start trouble, not to enjoy the feast. I’ve lived here my whole life. The city wants people to visit the North End, but they don’t do a good enough job of cleaning up after the people leave. The picture is nice. I am enjoying it.

    1. Many of these requirements are state mandated and would be required whether in Boston or Revere. From the looks of the cars in the picture, I would guess the picture was taken sometime in the 1920’s. Police and fire were likely not unionized then. City workers are paid better than their peers in this era, not to mention benefits. Every kind of liability insurance is expensive, and given the more litigious society of today, anyone would be insane not to carry it. Lastly, people constantly squawk about parking around here; as you can see from the picture, parking was much less a problem back then.

      City isn’t the issue, society has changed. Keep in mind that these were religious feasts. Go to Mass any given Sunday and view the empty pews. There was more to this neighborhood than just feasts, the culture has changed. The schools are now condos, there is no continuation of culture. People who went to these as kids used to search out their friends and run as packs. Now you look around and look for survivors. You don’t see many kids anymore. Would you want to bring your kid to see drunken teens and some guy peeing on the side of a building?

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