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Boston Public Library: 30 seconds of architecture and ego

The Boston Public Library opened its doors in 1895. The architect was Charles F. McKim, of McKim, Mead and White. Among the features of the facade were stone panels carved with the names of scientists, philosophers, and artists.

Eventually somebody noticed that if you read down the first letters of the eminent names on one of the panels you got "McKim Mead White". There was a fuss and the panel was replaced.

About ten years later Stanford White, the most ebullient and arguably most talented of the partners was shot in the head by an aggrieved husband while he was watching a show at the rooftop cafe on Madison Garden (which he designed). McKim never designed anything of significance after the death of his friend and colleague.

The music is "Cactus" by The Pixies.

Views: 100

Comment by Marie on June 16, 2011 at 3:01pm
Some ~amazing transitions! And really enjoyed the subtle sense of humour too.
Comment by NatureJunkie on June 16, 2011 at 3:57pm

I love the secret message of the embedded architects' signatures, and I can't believe there'd be citizens of Boston huffy enough to want the panel removed. Especially since they didn't remove that other panel on the modern annex that was constructed in 1969:


Polykleitos        Isocrates          Durer

Anacreon          Sappho            Euclid

Uccello                                    Aristophanes

Leonardo                                 Dante

Comment by Marie on June 16, 2011 at 4:15pm
^ @NJ *chortle*
Comment by Geoff on June 17, 2011 at 1:42pm

Thanks, Marie. This video like the last is compiled from footage that I've been playing with for over three years, off and on, so some of the transitions (and the last sequence) were created a long time ago. Another, the transition from old library to new, is an idea I got from NJ.


NJ!! I'm afraid you don't understand how seriously we citizens of Boston take ourselves! A newspaper, thinking along your lines, proposed a panel that read PEARS SOAP. There was a statue rejected for the library courtyard that showed a nude nymph with a bunch of grapes in one hand and a baby in another. The nudity was okay but the grapes suggested drunkenness and that makes for BAD PARENTING.



Comment by NatureJunkie on June 17, 2011 at 3:23pm
Hmmm. It's hard for me to understand the Bostonian mindset. I find neither her nudity nor her grapes offensive. But did no one say a thing about her pulling that Michael Jackson stunt with the kid?
Comment by BlancheNoE on June 17, 2011 at 7:51pm

Oh how FREAkin' COOL !!!

First off, I love these when you can still recognize the building and what a clever way for the architect to make his mark ! 

Beautiful video. Thank you.

Comment by JustAnotherUserName on June 17, 2011 at 8:47pm
I'm just happy there were no drastic changes to the building over the years...
Comment by Geoff on June 18, 2011 at 11:21am

The library was restored recently--and then underwent a serious flood that damaged books but not the structure. Philip Johnson designed an extension to the library that riffs on the look of the original.



Comment by SydTheSkeptic on June 22, 2011 at 6:30pm

Interesting!   I'd heard from friends that those whose families are rooted in Boston feel somewhat responsible for preserving a standard by which to live- a reverence for history and for the values handed down by the first "wholly American" settlers.  It has something to do with how the English may have settled along the coast, but it was "real" Americans who settled Massachusetts.  That's just a couple of people's take on it.


I really like that statue.  Very Dionysian.


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