Dirty Old Boston: Behind the Scenes

DOB_FinalCoverAfter more than a year of submissions, captions, and research, the printer’s presses are churning out copies of Dirty Old Boston: Four Decades of a City in Transition. The book, based on Jim Botticelli’s Facebook page of the same name, is a beautiful culmination of teamwork and community spirit.

Jim’s story—about the Facebook page and the book itself—is fascinating, and it’s expressed beautifully in the introduction of Dirty Old Boston. But we want to take a moment to tell readers a little bit about our experience with Dirty Old Boston and how the book took shape. Bringing this book to press was unlike any project Union Park Press had previously published. There was no manuscript, no chapters to edit, and no paragraphs to proofread. Instead, we had the unique opportunity to reach out to Bostonians, both present and past, to fill the book’s pages. As soon as we set up The Dirty Old Boston Project website, submissions flooded in. You sent us family photos, vacation photos, wedding day shots, and memories of parades, baseball games, concerts, and block parties. We quickly came to the realization that these images were going to make this a truly amazing book. And as we continued to receive personal photos, the “keep” pile grew and grew.

We had the photos; now we just needed to get their stories on the page. There were overwhelming moments; how do you compile, organize, and make sense of decades of memories? We took to the walls, tape in hand, and mapped out the entire book in the rooms, hallways, stairwells, and doorframes around the office. Seeing the book laid out around us was a turning point. The photos that had lived on our computers for so many months were finally telling the story of a dirty, old Boston. Over the course of the next few weeks, our new wallpaper spread and we camped out with our laptops, inserting and moving and categorizing.

Seeing the designed pages, the beautiful layout our book designer created, and the pages shift from black and white to color was incredible. Driving to the printers to get a sneak peak was nerve-wracking and exhilarating. We could finally hold all that effort in our hands. We hope that you have the same feelings we did, looking through the pages, seeing yourself, your parents, or a Boston that you only could see in your own memories. All those photographs, all that research, all that tape—one beautiful book.

Dirty Old Boston: Four Decades of a City in Transition will be officially available on November 3, 2014. You can pre-order the book through Amazon or our website (books won’t be shipped until early November). Dirty Old Boston will be available in bookstores and gift shops throughout Greater Boston. If you’d like an early copy, please visit the Union Park Press booth at the Boston Book Festival on October 25 in Copley Square. Jim Botticelli will be there to sign books from 12-3 and the book will be for sale all day long!

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