They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. This is a lesson I’ve quickly come to appreciate in multiple contexts throughout my first semester at Penn. While I cherish the new friendships, rich academics, independence and plethora of opportunities college has afforded me, there are still certain aspects about my life back home that I miss. Not the least among these is spending summer nights roaming around Boston with friends, getting lost in the winding streets as we explore new haunts. With each homecoming, my affection for this feisty city grows.
To better acquaint you with the beautiful city I call home, below are five little-known facts about Beantown.
1. The Fig Newton is named after a suburb of Boston.
That’s right, those tasty fig paste-filled cookies you ate in elementary school are actually named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. The company which first mass-produced these pastries in 1891, Kennedy Biscuit Works, was located near Newton and had a tradition of naming its treats after Boston’s surrounding towns.
2. The Boston University Bridge is home to a rare global phenomenon.
The rusty, graffiti-covered BU Bridge over the Charles River is one of only three places in the world where a boat can row under a train going under a vehicle driving under an airplane.
3. The celebration of Christmas was once banned in Boston.
The Puritans who first immigrated to Massachusetts in the 17th century disapproved of the raucous behavior--drinking, feasting, and game-playing--that typically took place during Christmas celebrations. On top of that, it reminded them of the Church of England (from which they were trying to escape), and they didn’t consider it a true religious holiday (the Bible does not include a date for the birth of Jesus). So in 1659, the General Court placed a fine of five shillings on anyone caught celebrating Christmas in any way. The ban only lasted 22 years, until the English-appointed governor, Sir Edmund Andros, revoked it in 1681.
4. The John Hancock Tower is Boston’s meteorologist.
Missed the weather report this morning? Or maybe the weather app on your iPhone isn't working? The John Hancock Tower has got you covered. Using predictions from a meteorological company on the 26th floor, the skyscraper has been forecasting the weather since 1950. It even inspired the following poem:
Steady blue, clear view
Flashing blue, clouds due
Steady red, rain ahead
Flashing red, snow instead
(in the summer, flashing red indicates a canceled Red Sox game)
5. The first chocolate factory in the United States was opened in Boston.
In 1765, Irish immigrant John Hannon collaborated with Dorchester physician James Baker to create the Walter Baker Company, which set up its first chocolate-producing factory in the Lower Mills section in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.