Brookline Historical Society
Wooden Sidewalks
Many U.S. cities and towns had wooden sidewalks in the 19th century. But it's unlikely that any community had them as long as Brookline, which laid its first plank sidewalk in the 1850s and didn't remove its last one until 1955! These sidewalks can be seen in dozens of photographs on our website. Browse through these pages and double-click on the images to get a closer view or to zoom in and see them in greater detail. To learn more, read The Long History of Brookline's Wooden Sidewalks on the Muddy River Musings blog.

St. Paul's Church, circa 1888
Aspinwall House is on the far right, torn down 1891. St. Paul St. looking north to the left, Aspinwall Ave. to the right.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St. Looking West From Carlton St., 1887
William B. Chaplin's house and stable are visible on the right.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St., Looking East From St. Paul, 1887
The building of carpenter Josiah N. Christie, with a sign hanging in front, is in the distance along the edge of Beacon. On the right is the house of Marshall Stearns and at the center is the house of Edward Serrano Dane.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St. Looking West Toward Coolidge Corner, 1888
Newer Stearns House, corner Beacon & Pleasant, on the left. This photo has an excellent view of how the planks were slightly raised on the wooden sidewalks.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St. & Summit Ave., 1885; Elizabeth F. Raymond Mansion
Entrance seen from Beacon St.; Elbridge Wason-designed Queen Anne style homes at the bottom of Summit Ave visible on the right.This photo has an excellent view of the small ramps that were placed at the end of the planks of the wooden sidewalks.
Griggs Park Area from Beacon St.
South side of Beacon St., just west of Summit Ave., is peaking through the fence on the right. View of the property and houses of Thomas Griggs, the future Griggs Rd. area. Washington St. is behind it.
Beacon St, Looking East From Washington St., 1887
In the distance at the top of the hill is the Clark house (formerly the Otis Withington house).

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Washington Sq. 1887
Looking east with Beacon St. on the left, Washington St. on the right.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St. This photo contains the mystery man, here standing against the fence, who was posed in a number of the 1887 photos.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St., Washington Sq., 1887
Looking West on Beacon, Washington St. going north to the right.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St. This photo contains the mystery man, here sitting on the stone fence, who was posed in a number of the 1887 photos.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St., Francis Hunnewell House, 1887
Beacon St. north side, just west of Washington St.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St. This photo contains the mystery man, here leaning against the tree, who was posed in a number of the 1887 photos.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Moses Withington House, Beacon St., 1887
Across from Winthrop Rd., around today's #1680 Beacon St.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St. This photo contains the mystery man, here leaning against the fence, who was posed in a number of the 1887 photos.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St., Isaac D. White House, 1887
Beacon St. going west to the left. At about #1702, across from Tappan St.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St. Looking East Toward Tappan St., 1887
Eugene Knapp house in the distance, Tappan St. just beyond that, his apple orchard in the foreground. Knapp was financially involved in the impending widening of Beacon St. and donated some of this land to the project.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Eugene Knapp House, Beacon St., West of Tappan St., 1887
Southwest corner of Beacon and Tappan.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St. This photo likely contains the mystery man. He closely resembles the man standing in the driveway talking to the worker and was otherwise posed in a number of the 1887 photos.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
1783 Beacon St., Chamberlain House, 1887
Looking west from today's Dean Rd. Residence of Susan Y. Chamberlain, widow of Thomas.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St. Looking East From Englewood Ave., 1887
Chamberlain house in the foreground, residence of Susan Y. Chamberlain, widow of Thomas. House of Eugene Knapp in the background on the same side (south). House of Isaac White just visible in the background on the north side of Beacon.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
Beacon St. at Englewood Ave.
Looking east on Beacon St. several blocks from Cleveland Circle. Reservoir Hotel is off screen on the right, entrance to Englewood is on the left.
Beacon St. & Englewood Ave, Reservoir Hotel, 1887
Looking east on Beacon, standing at today's Strathmore Rd. Englewood Ave enters on the left.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
Beacon Street Looking East from Chestnut Hill Ave., 1887
One of two photos taken from the same spot. Looking east from just east of Cleveland Circle.The Reservoir Hotel is on the right, opposite Englewood Avenue.

From the 1887 photo series taken just before the widening of Beacon St.
[Source: Digital Commonwealth]
60 Beech (formerly Dudley St.) Rd., 1888
House of William H. Lincoln. Kent St. if off-photo to the right.
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