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Curious Boston Questions

This article is more than 5 years old.

So, what makes a good Curious Boston question? Here here some guidelines that might help:

Keep it local: Questions should be relevant to Boston and the area. Example of a local question: How many times a year does The Constitution leave its moorings?

Make it clear: Please read your question carefully to be sure it makes sense.

Here's a list of questions we've received:

Did W. Bowman Cutter's hardware store in old Roxbury, still there in the 1960's, really have an upside down sign because the owner lost a bet when Grover Cleveland ran for president? Or did the store do it to draw customers?
Why is it so difficult to travel between North and South Stations?
Why do you pay the fare when you exit the #71 & #73 bus, v when you board?
Where does the granite for Boston's curbs come from?
When (if ever) - will they connect North Station with South Station?
Why don't more of our subways have cartoon ads, like the Coraline one out of Harvard?
And why aren't the street signs in large type so you can actually read them??
How about why is our public transit so unpredictable? Schedules. We don't need no stinking schedules.
Why is the Berkeley Street entrance to the T closed?
For the next round: why does the orange line terminate in JP instead of continuing to Roslindale and W Roxbury?
Are pedestrians more likely to be hit by a biker, a car, or a garbage truck?
Street signs. Forever and ever, street signs. It is unconscionable that an otherwise world-class city has neglected one of the most basic means of getting around.
How much of the Big Dig is going to collapse in the next decades? Including the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge.
Why do people in Boston call grocery carts and strollers "carriages"?
I was going to ask the exact same question! There needs to be a direct connection between North and South Station!!!! Another question, why are there very limited trains to Gillette Stadium? Why only trains to some games but not to all the concerts, Revs games, etc?
How about why they can't connect North and South Station directly!
OK the picture here shows the bridge leading into boston. the big dig cost ??17 Billion?? 15 was over budget. to was to get rid of traffic jams into the city. BUT 93 south into the city starting in somerville goes from 4 lanes to 2 lanes. traffic backs up EVERY morning for miles. Why didn't the big dig continue pasted the somerville restriction??? it is a huge difficulty and cost time, a lot of gas, and creates a lot of road rage. When traffic is handled correctly (NOT MA) it flows, there is consumption of fuel. and people are happy. It's as if MA creates this mess on purpose.
Look in to the city's contract for street trees. The city has a contract with a supplier who is supposed to plant street trees in areas designated by the city and care for them for 2 years until they are established. The contractor is supposed to replace trees that die. Trees are regularly planted, then never cared for by the contractor and left dead in their tree pits. I'd look into this failed relationship that has Boston taxpayers spending money on trees that wind up crispy and dead due to neglect!
Why are there cops directing traffic, sitting in their cars, talking on their cell phones, talking to other cops and not doing anything about actually directing traffic. If it were any other job they would be fired immediately. It would be easy to get lots if footage anywhere in the state.
What's going to be in the Milbrook Cold Storage building??
Why are there street signs only for intersecting streets and never for the street you are on? (Regional issue)
Natural Gas Pipeline from NY to Dracut. No one along the route proposed wants it. Yet it seems unstoppable. Why?
Is the Charles River Conservancy skate park ever going to be built? A lot of people have given money... and years later... no park.
How did people get to the airport and East Boston before the tunnel? Was there a bridge or did you have to go all the way up and around through Chelsea?
Who does a person talk to to petition more parking at commuter rail lots?
What services are there available for unemployed parents with respect to childcare when interviewing?
With all of these new buildings going up, how many truly affordable housing units will open up? Are they all for the wealthy? And who are the people living in these tiny, expensive apartments? I believe there's a building in Kendall Square that offers a studio for $2500/mo. Who lives like that?
Heidi Field Dildine Why do we need to pay police officers to guard manholes and other work sites around the city?
so...there are markers showing apparently the distance from the north end? why are they there and why are they so important that walls have even been built around them?
The land deals and the growth of the Seaport district.
Why is a "regular coffee" coffee with cream and sugar? What is the history behind this?
What is wrong with the Salem Public Schools?
Now that my office has moved to the "Innovation District" neighborhood, I'm very curious about the bridge that spans the Fort Point Channel on Congress Street right in front of the Boston Tea Party Museum and the Children's Museum (called the "Strauss Bascule Bridge"). Does it ever go up? Why would it go up? How does it go up? What does it look like when it goes up?
There's a tiny building near the Garden with a giant billboard on the side. It's near the entrance to the Garden parking garage.It's sticks out like a sore thumb and I'm curious why it's still there.
The story behind the Great Molasses Flood - is this really a true story and can you really smell the molasses on a hot day?
For years the windows of the South Bay correctional facilty facing the 93S on ramp were smashed out. I haven't noticed lately, but have wondered about this for a long time and have never seen any media coverage on it.
With the closing of Boudwin station after the government center work completes, why doesn't the MBTA extend the Blue line to Charles/MGH.
How does the Lock between the Harbor and the Charles work? Does it affect fish that move from salt to fresh water?
Logan Express has shuttles and parking in the suburbs. Given the difficulty in finding a parking space in the city, the impact that cars have on city streets, and the hassle that both of those present to fans of events at the Garden and Fenway Park, has Massport considered establishing a shuttle service from these lots to concert and sporting events at these 2 venues?
Why is Boston considered a racist city, more so than NYC and other northeastern cities?
Does the Stony Brook in Jamaica Plain still exist?
why isn't there a D terminal at Logan? Was there ever one in the past and if so what happened to it?
What's with the dearth of street signs?
Story my Gram used to tell when I was a kid before passing away. Does Faneuil Hall grasshopper weather vane have a belly full of treasure? What is inside? How old is it? What's the reason for the grasshopper?
Why do Boston-area schools have vacations in both February and April? (It's not the case in most of the country.)
Why is the silver line not a train, but rather an abominable hybridesque bus that cant let go of overhead wires?
Why are light switches on the outside of bathrooms, not on the inside?
Is it true that there is a theatre buried somewhere under the city?
What idiosyncrasies distinguish the various accents of Boston and its surrounding towns? (Eastie vs Southie vs. Dorchester, e.g.) And How have these region-based accents evolved over the past 100 years? (e.g., do children of immigrants develop hybrid accents, e.g., Dorchester-Haitian Creole or Saugus-Dominican?)
What's up with all the Roast Beef and Pizza joints in Wilmington and Tewksbury? Who puts roast beef on their pizza? What do they have in common? It's not like we have Dunkin' Donuts 'N' Bologna, amIrite?
Why do so many street signs indicate the street you're on but not the intersecting street I'm looking for?
Did you know there was an ornate very large grand marble staircase built in the middle of South Station in 1987?
Why doesn't the orange line extend further into Boston to serve the Hyde Park & Roslindale residents?
With so much of the city of Boston built on fill, what would protect us in the event of an earthquake like the one in 1755?
Who was the old popcorn vendor?
What did the original Emerald Necklace look like?
Why is Boston called Beantown?
Many of the major streets through the suburbs of Boston have signs only for the cross streets at intersections, with no corresponding sign for the major street. Thus one can arrive at a major street from a cross street and have no idea what street it is. Was this a conscious money-saving decision by the towns around Boston, or is there some historical reason or precedent (or Communist plot to disorient visitors) for this?


Why does Boston have so many commuter line stations (North, South, Back Bay) when other cities have one?
I would like to know more about the streetcar graveyard that's somewhere in the area, as seen here: http://www.abandonedamerica.us/deus-ex-machina. Where is it? What is its story?
Anybody know the story of the lack of a "A" on the green line?
I have lived in Boston area for around three years, and I find myself wondering; Why are Boston drivers so appalling?
A colleague told me there is a history that explains Bostonian's rather 'independent' attitude to red-lights, yellow lines, speed limits etc.
Why is the West Roxbury District Courthouse located in Jamaica Plain?
There are still some places around Boston marked as air raid/fall out shelters. I'd be interested in knowing are any of them still operational, or are they sealed or used for other things? Why were they put where they were and were they stocked with any supplies?
Can someone explain how the Allston/Brighton boundaries came to be?
Why are there so few street signs showing the name of a road?
Why is Green B-line not always staying at the center of Comm Ave? Instead, it is moving to the right side at Packards Corner, and moving back to the center at Warren Street (in outbound direction). Both sites are dangerous for cars, bicycles and pedestrians. They delay the T, as well as the traffic. Everything would be more efficient and safer if the railway always stood at the center.
Why were there so many candy factories in Cambridge? Several have gone, (bye-bye Squirrel Nut, NECCO, and whatever it was used to be near Lechmere station) but some (hello Tootsie Rolls) are still around. Why so much sugar in one place?
Having just had my first walk on the delightful Greenway I realize that there are similar "formerly used" places I've been curious about since I was young.

In Newton, and probably in many other communities, there are unbuilt ridges that run along streets, behind houses. etc. that we called "the aquaduct." When were they built, how did they figure in the region's water system, what replaced them?

What are the earliest photographs of the historic sites of Boston? Especially ones that don't exist anymore
Isn't it finally time to have an all-generation, all hands on deck series of civic "hackathons", a summer of digital coops that identify and serve the basic, practical needs of the community and residents at large?

Boston is a region of silos: geographical, social and tribal by industry and sector. The wheel gets reinvented constantly. Projects, fundraisers and events collide. We live in a fragmented hub. Let's put it back together so we can pull together as one.

Why is there so little cooperation, why is there no simple tool like a central regional calendar online, a calendar that would help everyone to reduce conflicts. When tribes don't talk, resources go wasted or underutilized. Benefits wind up on the same night. Publicity is diluted.

Why do some roads seem to be one lane or two or one and a half but no one is really sure?
Why haven't we renewed legislation that caps the amount leases can be raised annually since 1994?
Why does the area in south station at the bottom of the escalators to the Red Line, next to the shoe and luggage repair shop smell so BAD. Seriously it's this terrible mixture of vinegar and something I'll probably have my comment deleted for referencing. I walk through it everyday and wonder, do people's shoes smell that bad? And if so how does the cobbler not have the worst job in the world?
Why are Bostonians so polite in person but so mean behind wheels?
Why are there multiple streets in multiple towns with the same names? (Beacon and Tremont to start)?
How did Roxbury and West Roxbury get their names since they don't border each other?
How did it happen that Tremont actually crosses Tremont at one point?
Why is porter square so much further underground than davis or harvard?
Do the Gardens Ducks have names?
Could Boston REALLY handleto host a Summer Olympics? I have a hard time imagining where sites would be developed. Could Boston's infrastructure, even with improvements, handle all the people? Would the spaces used for the Olympics be put to good use after the medals are handed out?
Are the interior concrete walls of City Hall paintable?
Which bridge to Cape Cod gets the most traffic, Bourne or Sagamore?
# cars daily, #cars peak summer weekend,
Which bridge backs up more frequently?
Has the Sagamore flyway worked?
will a third bridge help?
Why is Jamaica Plain called Jamaica Plain?
Were there really any "minutemen"fighting at Lexington or were they all part of a trained militia....April 1775? And if so, how did the minuteman become the mascot of Lexington?
This may not be unique to the Boston area, but that's where I am most of the time and so it makes me curious (the nice way of putting it) when I am driving around. I'm sure street signs don't grow on trees, (i.e. they may cost more than I know) but I find it astonishing that you can drive for blocks and blocks on the main street of a city or town, and there are simply no street signs. Often, all the side streets have signs, but you can go for ages with no sign telling you what street you are ON. And it's the major thoroughfare. What is up with that?
Three questions about Jamaica Pond: (1) do they stock it with fish, (2) if so, why and of what sort, (3) what percentage of JP residents have skinny dipped with those fish, extant or not (the fish, that is, I know the residents are extant)?
Why is there still a Boston accent?

This article was originally published on June 10, 2014.

Robin Lubbock Twitter Visual Media
Robin Lubbock produces visual and social media for WBUR.


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