Olive Ruby Henty's Cities
When Olive Ruby Henty (ORH) arrived in Boston in 1911, it was a large and bustling city. In fact, according the 1915 Decennial Census, Boston was a bigger city in the 1910s than it is today. In 1910, there were approximately 644,000 people living in Boston. By the time ORH left the city in 1915 to start her post-collegiate life and career, it had a population of 745,439. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, however, Boston’s population has since decreased to 589,141.
Thanks to the benefits of industrialization and electricity (the city's first electric power station was erected in 1903), Boston continued to maintain its status as a manufacturing and trading hub. New industries for manufacturing buttonhole machines, safety razors and blades, and ventilators emerged. These new areas of industry developed alongside Boston’s older iron foundries and confectionery and textile industries, earning the city the rank of fourth among all industrial communities in the United States.
Boston also served as a hub for three railroad lines: the Boston and Maine, the New York/New Haven/Hartford, and the Boston and Albany lines. It is on one of these lines that ORH would have traveled from her hometown of Oneida, New York to Simmons College. In addition to the railroads, the Cape Cod Canal opened in 1914, allowing fish and goods to be transported easily between Boston and New York.
Changes were also occurring in labor and the education system. In 1913, the State Board of Labor and Industries was created and the minimum wage law was enacted. During the same time period, local colleges and universities became concerned about a lack of educational opportunities for workers and created the Boston Trade Union College. The College, established in 1919, offered classes taught by professors from nearby colleges and universities, including Harvard, Wellesley, Tufts, and Simmons.
ORH's Boston was a place of great change, filled with opportunity for women who wanted to make a difference in the world. Here is a glimpse of some significant Boston events that may have shaped her years here:
On July 4th, a record high temperature was recorded in Boston, a sizzling 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Harriet Quimby of Boston became the first American woman to obtain her pilot's license.
On September 23, the Plymouth Theatre opened at 131 Stuart Street.
Hyde Park became a part of Boston on January 1. It added another 2869 acres to the city.
On March 23, the subway line from Park Street to Harvard Square opened. This route later became known as the Red Line.
Harriet Quimby again made headlines by becoming the first woman to fly soloacross the English Channel on April 16. Unfortunately, on July 1 of the same year, she and her passenger died at the Harvard-Boston Aero Meet. They were thrown from their Bleriot monoplane and fell one thousand feet into Dorchester Bay.
The Art Institute of Boston was established.
On April 20, the Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders in the first official game played at Fenway Park. The Sox went on to win the World Series at Fenway Park on October 16.
The Franklin Park Zoo opened.
Peter Bent Brigham Hospital opened on January 27 in the Fenway.
During the spring, the Copley Gallery hosted the first all-women artist exhibitionin Boston.
On December 20, a group led by Helen Osborne Storrow founded the Women’s City Club of Boston "to promote a broad acquaintance among women through their common interest in the welfare of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
On July 4, Harvard became the first American crew team to win the Challenge Cup at the Royal Henley Regatta in England.
Rose Fitzgerald, the daughter of former Boston mayor John Fitzgerald, married P.J. Kennedy on October 7.
On October 13, the Boston Braves won the World Series, beating the Philadelphia Athletics.
On January 18, the Custom House Tower opened.
The Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith opened at the Tremont Theatre on April 17, amid protests of the film's portrayal of African Americans.
The Red Sox won the World Series again on October 13, beating the Philadelphia Phillies.back to top
Boston (MA) Tercentenary Committee, Subcommittee on Memorial History. (1932). Fifty years of Boston: a memorial volume issued in commemoration of the tercentenary of 1930. Boston.
Legislature of 1912. (1912). Massachusetts: Showing population according to census of 1910. Boston.
Gettamy, C.F. (1918). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The decennial census 1915. Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co.
A view on cities. (2007). Boston facts & figures. Retrieved November 23, 2007 from http://www.aviewoncities.com/boston/bostonfacts.htm
Vrabel, J. (2004). When in Boston: A timeline & almanac. Boston: Northeastern University Press.