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Historic Neighborhood Photo: The Metropolitan Steamship Company


It’s safe to say that the North End waterfront is the place to be in the summer – it’s easy to forget that the harbor didn’t always function the way we experience it today. Take a look at this old photo of Union Wharf from 1906. On the old building along the water the sign reads “The Metropolitan Steamship Co,” which was one of the major transportation links between New York City and Boston. The company was established in 1866 to operate steamships along this route for 75 years!

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

See past historic neighborhood photo posts.

3 Replies to “Historic Neighborhood Photo: The Metropolitan Steamship Company

  1. This may be Central Wharf….just a guess…Notice “Rowes Wharf” on the building to the right?

    I love these old pictures of the is such a special place.

  2. Dan you are correct. Note all the 5 mast sail ships. Back in the 1960’s Rowe’s wharf is where we took off on Booze cruises. The setting at that time looked like a scene out of the movie French Connection as we entered the desolate wharf area under the expressway. Today, Rowe’s wharf looks nothing like what I just described as the entire waterfront has been converted from a working commercial seaport to one of leisure and entertainment.

  3. I love this photo, it represents an interesting fact of commercial maritime history in the United States.
    1906 being the first year in which commercial steam tonnage exceeded the tonnage of commercial sail. The five masted wooden coal schooners with the white hulls were part of the Palmer fleet. These ships were more than likely built in Maine

    Within a period of 20 years most of these were lost by torpedo (German U-boats, WWI), storm, or simply replaced by steam powered, steel hulled vessels. Many of them were abandoned along the Chelsea Creek, East Boston side on Falcon St., where they could still be seen slowly decaying up through the late 40’s, and early 50’s. Because the decking had been salvaged for repurposing, my father and uncles used to swim inside these hulks. They called this urban swimming hole the Tides.

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