Photos & Videos

Historic Neighborhood Photo: Boston’s First Skyscraper

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

This week’s photo is of Boston’s popular landmark, the Custom House, back in 1929! The original building was constructed in 1849 and resembled a greek temple, with Doric columns on all four sides and a large domed roof.

The tower, which is pictured in the photo above, came later in 1915 due to increased shipping needs. The renovation added another twenty six floors on top of the base of the building. At the time, this addition violated the city’s height restrictions; however, because the building was considered to be Federally owned it was exempt.

In later years the Custom House became known as the city’s first skyscraper, but today, it is only Boston’s 17th tallest building. The building is now owned by the Marriott Vacation Club. The 25th floor observation deck is still open to the public.

Tune in on Thursday’s to view our featured neighborhood photo from back in the day! Submit your historical photos using our Submit a Post form or tag @northend.waterfront on Instagram. Please include a caption or story telling about your photo.

See past historic neighborhood photo posts.

4 Replies to “Historic Neighborhood Photo: Boston’s First Skyscraper

  1. I have always had a fondness for the Custom House. When I lived on Chelsea St. in
    East Boston I could see the skyscraper from my window. I was young then and asked my mother what it was. Being from the North End she of course knew. Thank you for the nice memory

  2. Great picture and memory. In the mid 60’s, I had the honor of having my office in the lobby while on U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting duty. At that time it was a federal GSA building. Being from Boston and a Northender, it was quite memorable. Vincent Sordello North Carolina

  3. My favorite building since I was a child,,I used to ask my father to tale a walk by there almost every Saturday and I used to ask him dadddy can you buy this building for me,, he shake his head ,,laugh and say kid you got big dreams,,still dreaming,

  4. My father worked on Lewis Wharf for the Waterfront Service Co.,, he used to set his watch by the tower clock. He claimed the tower clock kept the most reliable time.

    Many thanks for publishing these historic photos. The photographer, Leslie Jones, left quite a historic legacy, and the BPL has been the ideal caretaker of this pictorial treasure.

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