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by Jacob Marmor (pseudonym)

Friday, June 26, 1942

in What's New In Town

W. J. Sidis

(Click/tap to open, again to enlarge.)


         Facilities for the accommodation of travelers were quite lacking in the colonial period. The nearest thing to a hotel in those days was the inn (sometimes called, in this country, tavern), which was little more than a glorified flophouse. It was not till 1829 that any attempt was made anywhere on earth to afford travelers some privacy and some degree of home comfort. This startling innovation was introduced with the opening of the first real hotel in the world, the Tremont House, at Tremont and Beacon Streets in Boston. It was enlarged several times in later years, and was finally converted into offices, now being known as the Tremont Building. The former hotel lounge became, for many years, the main store of S. S. Pierce’s grocery, which moved out of there only lately.


        We have once been asked: “Why is New York covered by a little pocket guide, while Boston requires an encyclopedia?” This is a slightly exaggerated statement, but there is some truth in it and the main reason is the immensely greater number of streets. It is, however, true, that no Boston guide book yet published is adequate in its coverage of the subjects the visitor needs to know to get around, so that one guide book gives very little information on the whereabouts of street numbers, while another gives nothing at all about transit; and several different kinds are needed in combination to give an idea of “how to get there.” We know of an unpublished guide book that has complete local transit and street-number information, as well as adequate maps; but it is no good to visitors as long as it remains unpublished.* In the meantime, the question at the head of this item must remain without a good and proper answer.


        The group of hospitals on the top of Mission Hill are occupying the ground of the formerly used Parker Hill Reservoir, which was originally built to supply water to Roxbury. The old reservoir walls are still to be seen on the west side of the hospitals.


        During the last national election it was noticed that Wendell Street comes next to Franklin Street in Boston.


        There is a road in Lexington called “Journey’s End.”


Sidis wrote elsewhere: "The so-called "Geprodis System" of guide books, having been contributed by its inventor to help General Projects get started, is the first project being worked on as a means of initial financing without either governmental or employee financing." . . . For a first project, it is suggested that it be attempted to publish a series of guides to the local transportation systems of various urban and metropolitan areas. This type of guide-book has never been adequately attempted anywhere in America, is capable of being worked out for any such area, and is work that will be useful in numerous ways in peace-times; it is a type of thing that has always been in great demand among travelers, whether on business or for pleasure, as well as among local residents. Estimated amount of initial capital, $1000 to $1500. I am ready to organise such a project, contributing a guide system I have devised. Several volumes, including two for the Boston area and one for the District of Columbia, are now ready to go to the printer, and several more are almost ready; so that the project could be showing returns very early in the game." ... "The guide books project (which has been given some publicity in connection with the plan) happens to be merely the first project now in progress under the General Projects plan. The plan calls for a chain of various types of projects―to be devised."co8  See also co4; co9; co11.

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