One of the great things about the Internet for any history buff is the ability to access photographs and historical resources that were once buried deep inside archives and libraries. Case in point are the fantastic vintage photographs that the Boston Public Library posts on Flickr. The recent release of baseball photographs taken by Leslie Jones received considerable press, and deservedly so. (Check out this incredible shot of a Cubs player sliding into home at Braves Field.) But I was just as excited to see the recently posted vintage photographs of the Boston Harbor Islands.
Check out this photograph taken on Long Island sometime around 1930. It shows the contestants of the annual baby crib race down Long Island Head at the starting line. Gentlemen, start your cradles!
OK, just kidding. It’s a photograph of some of the children who were being cared for at Long Island Hospital along with some of the nurses out getting some fresh air.
The cool breezes and the open air of the islands were thought to have salubrious properties. Thus, the Boston Harbor Islands were a place of healing for generations of sick children from Boston. In addition to the hospital on Long Island, the Burrage Hospital on Bumpkin Island provided care and treatment for poor children with physical disabilities between 1902 and the start of World War I. And if you’ve always been confused as to why the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center is fully landlocked, well, it’s because that it dates back to the days when it actually did sail on Boston Harbor. For 33 years starting in 1894, the Floating Hospital sailed the harbor so that its patients could benefit from its supposedly healing breezes.
(Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library)