Sunday, November 4, 2007

South Street Stories

Jamaica Plain 1858

I don't know where this map comes from, and I wish I could get a look at the original. It's a nice copy, but some of the print is difficult to read. I picked out this segment to talk about the development of the South street area. It shows South street, the railroad tracks, and Shawmut (Washington) street on their general north-south path. Horizontally, from top to bottom we see Sedgwick street, Carolina avenue, and Child and Keyes (McBride) streets. On the left side of South street, Jamaica Street does its loop back on to itself.

We also see some detail added to the map. The horse car line comes down South street and ends at barns along Jamaica street. To the right of the railroad tracks, the Jamaica Plain Gas Co. has their plant. Both facilities had just been built when this map was produced. The third thing to point out is the houses marked on both Jamaica and Keyes streets. So why are there so may houses on those streets, when the others are still not built up? It could be just a coincidence. Did the men in those houses work at the Gas company or the streetcar company? Or maybe neither.

Here's another question, and some pure speculation. Lee street cuts vertically down on this map from Carolina avenue, across Child street to Keyes (McBride) street. Why did they put Lee street there? There was room for more such crossing streets, but only Lee street was laid out. Here's where the speculation comes in. Notice who lives on the corner of Carolina avenue and Lee street (click on the map for a bigger view) - a Greenough. It was the Greenoughs who sold this land for development. Could Lee street have been put in to allow the Gas Company to lay pipes directly to the Greenough house? Having just sold all that land, might not the family have wanted to be the first on their block - literally - to light their homes with gas? Just sayin'.

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