Copley Square

Copley Square At The Intersection of Clarendon Street and St James Avenue - Michael Carey

Copley Square is a public square located in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood and is one of the city's dazzling squares. The image on the left is a historic image that was taken around 1965 to 1975 and the one on the right is present day. As you can see in the historic image, construction was taken place in the square. Surrounding Copley Square and in the distance, you can see some of Boston's iconic buildings in the image such as the Boston Public Library, Prudential Tower, and the Fairmont Copley Plaza. In the present day image, you can still see those buildings, but with some new additional buildings.

Copley Square Street Cars - Cameron Ryde

Here, we can see the current day bus stop of Saint James Ave. and Dartmouth Street. This route used to be run by electric streetcars up until 1914, the same year this photo was taken, when the expansion of the subway system ran underneath Copley Square. There are now multiple bus routes that stop at this bus stop that run where the electrified street cars once did. Pictured, we can see bus 39 which runs from Haymarket to Forest Hills. We can also see the John Hancock Tower in the middle of this picture. This building was erected in 1965 and opened in 1976.

Trinity Church was built by a man named Henry Hobson Richardson. Building this church gave Richardson's reputation as well as creating a new architecture style; Richardsonian Romanesque. Trinity Church was built in 1733. 

Jun Zhang

The Boston Public Library was the first public library. Even though it was made to be public the architecture still used high-end materials to establish that it values a space for the community whether you are poor or wealthy. This idea of public space was highly ridiculed and debated over by the wealthy, eventually it was decided this public library was for everyone to use.  

Jun Zhang

The main building in this photo that is now a CVS has not changed much over the years, except it is less decorated and not as festive as it looked in 1912. The building to the left has been replaced with a more modern style and lacks the character it once had. Also of note is the power lines, seen in the old photo, but since then the wires have been moved underground.

Talia Venditti

In the photo that was taken during 1965, we can see that it stands that the Prudential Center was the highest at the time. Even after half a century it still stands the tallest build in the city of Boston. In the recently taken photo, the Prudential Center is covered with more skyscrapers.

Jun Zhang

In these shots of Copley Square, iconic Trinity Church sits pretty in the back looking the same in both photos. The area around it, however, has changed. The pile of dirt on the left has been replaced with a row of trees surrounding a fountain. The stores on the left of the old photo, though the buildings are the same (or similar) the old "mom and pop" shops and old stores have been replaced with more modern stores like CVS. The skyline behind the church has been filled with tall buildings,but the gold capped building in the back left, much like Trinity Church, has withstood the test of time.

Cassie Curran- This photo captures Copley Square looking toward Boylston Street. The original photo was taken circa 1965-1975. In the right corner of these images, you can see Trinity Church, one of Boston’s most historic churches, which was built in 1877.

Cassie Curran- This photo shows Copley Square from Clarendon Street, and features a center view of Trinity Church. The original photo was taken circa 1965-1975, during the time of the Back Bay development project.

Cassie Curran- This photo looks toward the intersection of Boylston Street and Clarendon Street. The photo features a view of Old South Church, which was built in 1875. In the original photo circa 1965-1975, you can see Copley Square under construction during the Back Bay development project.

Kaitlyn Darveau: Boston’s Trinity Church is one of the most famous historical churches in the United States. It was built in 1873. The design of Trinity Church is known as Richardsonian Romanesque, named after the famous architect H.H. Richardson.

In this view of Boston’s iconic Copley Square, an ornate street lamp has been replaced by a tree-lined sidewalk.  This early 20th century photo was taken prior to the renovation of Huntington Avenue, which cut diagonally through the square until 1961.  Following this redesign, features such as the streetcars seen in the picture have been removed.  This change in landscape signifies the shift undergone to develop Copley Square into a public gathering point and green space.  With the establishment of Copley Square as a prominent urban plaza, it has since been surrounded by high-rise office buildings and hotels.

-Matthew Collins-

Aashka Kamdar: Copley Square, in the year 1914, people were using trolleys and horse carriages to get from one end to another. Previously, this area was known as the Art Square because of Boston's aspirations for it as a center of culture and progress.

Copley Square once served as an educational & cultural hub where schools such as MIT and Boston College connected with the rest of Boston. During the 1960’s, Huntington Ave. would no longer run through the square and it would undergo smaller landscaping projects to make it into what it is today. Even though many of the colleges left the area, Boston Public Library and the Old South Church stand as a reminder of what once was a busy cultural center for Boston. The square serves as a gateway into the Avenue of the Arts today.   

Copley Square, looking east down Boylston Street. The only recognizable feature in both pictures is the corner of Trinity Church, on the far right. The rest of Copley has had major building projects complete since 1913, the orginal date of the first picture. -Daniel Fein

Copley Square was designed after the Back Bay landfill with the Trinity Church, the Boston Public Liberty, and the Museum of Fine Arts as few of first buildings to fill the area giving the name the “Art Square” to the area. During the Urban Renewal project streets were set to make the area relate more to a square setting with a goal to bring more pedestrians into the area by adding more of a green space with fountains, reflective pools, benches, and more trees.

Matthew Nguyen: The photo was taken in 1920s where the train line cuts directly through Coply square in front of Trinity Church. Back then, the architecture was Romanesque and Gothic as seen in the photo. Heavy materiality with over decorated details of every part of the design. Coply Square today shows the removal of the train and there now is a park. Now surrounded with glass and steel structures, some of the buildings from back then still exist today.

Harrison Whorf: The historic image on the right was taken from the urban renewal project collection album from the Boston Municipal Archives. The three buildings in the photos are the McKim Building (left), Old South Church (center), and Citizen Bank (right). The major changes in the surrounding area after the urban renewal project were an increase in shopping, an increase in mixed income housing and a decrease in subsided housing. Citizen participation was integral in making Copley what it is today.

Harrison Whorf: The following are images of trinity church taken on June 1966 and October 2018 respectively. The church -designed by Henry H. Richardson - features detailed stained-glass windows, checkerboard patterns on the exterior of the building and pointed arch ways. Today, construction is often done to restore the wind and rain damaged rooftiles and exterior. Historian Richard Moe calls it “One of the most significant restoration projects anywhere in America!”      

Devin Denham:

The two photos show Copley Square facing Boylson Street. The historic photo is from 1965-1975, and shows Copley Square being under construction. However, some of buildings seen in the photo, one of which being the Trinity Church, still stand today. In the photo from today, the trees block the view of seeing the Trinity Church, but the buildings down the street are still visible and many of the stores on that street have changed over time as well.


Below are two images of Copley Square, the left one being a historic image taken around 1965 to 1975 and the other one being a contemporary photo. The historic image of Copley Square was taken before it became the vibrant park that can be seen in the other photo. In the horizon of the historic image, buildings that still stand today like the Prudential and the Boston Public Library can be seen while in the contemporary image some new buildings have risen. 

Carter Trafton:The photos below are taken from Copley Square looking East down Boylston Street with a view of Trinity Church. You can see in the historical photo that the early iteration of the T once ran down the middle of the street besides horse carts. In the more recent photo, there are far more skyscrapers and greater construction projects in the area.

Boston Public Library - Zach Griffin

The Boston Public Library has gone through many changes in its history. Most recently it was expanded to the property behind it. The area has been very well built out with stores, restaurants, and entertainment areas.

Fairmont Copley Plaza - Zach Griffin

The famous hotel pictured below has had no changes in its outward facing facade. The largest change shown in the comparison is the addition of a public space in the center of Copley square. Much of the greenery in this space covers the view of the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.

Trinity Church - Zach Griffin

Trinity Church and the Copley Square area has seen a massive growth since 1964. Many large new buildings have been put in place such as the Hancock Tower. An interesting aspect of this comparison is the large addition of greenery.

Angela Peikert: Copley Square was used to demo Edison Company's electric street lights in 1910. Trinity Church and Boston Public Library have been situated in Copley Square since before 1910. Today, these landmarks still remain, but with new neighborsthe John Hancock Building, the 501 Bolyston Street building, and many more.

The Boston Public Library was built in 1852 and has since been one of the most recognizable structures in Copley Square. As seen between the two photos, there has been little to no work done to the exterior structure of the building since 1937. Also shown in the difference between photos, the street car in front of the library has since been replaced with the underground green-line T. Photo by Colton Burnham

Alexander Cate: This image is of construction on Copley Square in 1965. As shown, there is no grassy area in the square. The buildings on Boylston have not changed completely, apart from the demolition of the brownstone buildings for an office-type building. 

Trevor McSorley: These two pictures are about 50 years apart, showing noticeable differences in the buildings as well as the types of cars on the streets.

Here is a contrast of the Trinity Church in Copley Square.

Nicholas Scott: These two images show the intersection of Clarendon Street at Stuart Street facing towards Trinity Church. The original image is undated but shows a very different looking area from today. The recreated photo shows John Hancock Tower in place of the parking lot and those two smaller buildings, while Trinity Church still stands.

Nicholas Scott: These two images show the buildings located in Copley Square, on Boylston Street at the corner of Clarendon St. The original photo taken in 1912 shows the early 1900's architecture and contains an auto supply shop and an apothecary store. The recreated image shows an entirely new building, which is much taller and a very different, modern style of architecture. It contains a bagel shop and a bank.

Mark Emons: In these slides shows Copley Square in 1964 and a current picture in 2019. In the old photo the park is being reconstructed due to the taking out of a side street that crossed in front of Trinity Church. In the current view there is now the new park where people can sit and relax and watch the city. Also, the things that changed is also the Hancock Building that was built in the 70's. Behind that there is the Old John Hancock where it is now hidden by the city scape.

Ethan Farland: In this sliders you can see Copley Square from around 1965 to 1975. The square is going through construction at this time. Today you can see the square in it's full glory. One thing I found out the first photo said it was taken looking toward intersection of Boylston Street and Clarendon Street but in reality it looking towards the intersection of Boylston Street and Dartmouth Street.