A little background…
On September 22, 2012, Jim Botticelli launched a Facebook page that he dubbed “Dirty Old Boston.” Jim wanted the page to salute the gritty city of his past with images from Boston’s postwar, pre-gentrification era. To his delight, Jim discovered that this version of the city was alive and well: it lived in the memories and spirits of his fellow Bostonians. They’d experienced good old Scollay Square, pre-corporatized Quincy Market, and obscene traffic on the Expressway right along with him.
A few months and 45,000 followers later, Dirty Old Boston, with its photographs of the people and places that gave the city its signature grit and fortitude, has proven that we love to look back to that not-so-distant past. Jim’s Facebook project documents the lives of average Bostonians and Greater Bostonians who developed good humor and thick skin during that modest period between World War II and the demolition of the Elevated Orange Line in 1987, a change that wholeheartedly set gentrification in motion. Dirty Old Boston reminds us of what our city used to look like, the various challenges it faced, the maddening traffic and outlandish politics, the simple pleasures of block parties and parades, and those neighborhood haunts where people found camaraderie amidst it all.
We think it’s important to document this much-beloved time in Boston history. We’re lucky enough to live in an age that boasts exciting new technologies that allow us to see and share images in fascinating ways. Crowd-sourced history enables all of us to tell our own stories, to share our neighborhoods, and to commemorate our own families both in the modern manner—on Facebook—and in the old-fashioned way—on paper. Our goal with the Dirty Old Boston project is to compile a photographic account, to be published in book format, of this grittier part of Boston’s past. To do this, however, we want—and need—your help.