Boston Region 1922 - Boarding room / Apartment prices

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Logar
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Boston Region 1922 - Boarding room / Apartment prices

Post by Logar » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:15 pm

Just a quick note on a couple typical Boarding room / apartment prices taken from actual ads for the Boston Globe as of August 1922 with examples and some notes.

--Tremont street, two square rooms with kitchenette. Respectable home. $6/$7 week. Electricity.
--Worcester Sq., furnished kitchenette suite with electric lights, new and clean, $7/week
--To let, 3 furnished rooms for light housekeeping, $6/week. 136 Broadway, Somerville
--Rooms to let, South End, $2.50-12 week
--Boylston St., Very large room, private family of two, heat, water, electric lights, telephone, gentlemen: $7 (a week)
--Cambridge near Central Sq. - Pleasant room for gentleman only, steam heat, electric lights, hot water, $6 (a week), 270 Harvard St. Suite 3

Typical prices ranged from $25-40/month. With some ads mentioning things like $3.50/week for a roomie to split rooms, things like that.

Apartment ads:
--4 rooms and bath, steam heat, continuous hot water, janitor and elevator service, $60 month Roxbury
--To let 5 rooms and bath, all improvements, adults, rent $40, tel. 2054 Ocean, 7 Beacon Street, Winthrop
--To rent, 84 Walnut Ave. 6 and 7 rooms and bath, Roxbury, steam heat, open plumbing, $50 and $56.
--7 rooms, $40, South Boston, 554 East Fourth St. 7 rooms and bath, steam heat, electric lights, gas and coal range, gas water heater
--To let 5 rooms, 225 Washington, Dorchester, adults, $29/month

There's a lot to mention in passing:
--Some ads had "Protestant home only" and other such things like Adults only. So it should be remembered that discriminatory remarks were there. Though I saw nothing like "no colored" or anything regarding race.
--Prices for apartments were a tad more, maybe $10-20+ a month more ($40-60+/month). But they tended to have more rooms. 5-7+ was typical. Boarding rooms tended to list 2+ (I'm guessing bedroom/parlor (sitting room)+bath (or something along that line).
--There were many ads for women looking for rooms with another woman only. So there were plenty of single females room hunting. Also, ads with women willing to trade housework for room+board. I'll put up a woman only section later.
--Ads would mention "Electricity" specifically. Make of that what you will. Also, "steam heat" and "continuous hot water".
--Some ads mentioned specific addresses, some would say contact Globe Office -- with an ad box number. Only some would have specific phone numbers and the phone numbers would be small -- typically 4 digits (tel. 1560-m / tel. 2054 Ocean / tel. Newton-North 3715-M / tel. Arlington 180-W, etc.).
--Since it is August there may be seasonal differences, but I'm guessing not much if any.
--Places within Boston were asking more, as you would figure, but there were certainly apartments boarding houses a little further out where you could certainly find rent for $5-7/week. Dorchester for example. Not that far but that's from a modern perspective. Remember that there is an active bus and train service though.
--Most ads did not list a price, so I had to sift through and take examples from the ones that did.
--Lastly, consider that a typical working man's pay might be $25/week. So take it from that perspective. I will be putting up a list of weekly wages for common jobs.

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KeeperMurph
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Re: Boston Region 1922 - Boarding room / Apartment prices

Post by KeeperMurph » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:10 pm

Another brilliant post Logar. I did want to mention one tidbit if I may. You make mention that there was no blatant racist remarks in the newspaper aside from the odd call for attractive females. The main reason for this was that most African-Americans did not expect to find jobs or housing in the "White" paper. Boston had the Boston Guardian, an African-American newspaper that started publication in 1901. If you read those papers, you tend to get quite a different feel for the rampant racism of the time, even in fairly liberal places like the North-East.

As far as I can find there are no scans of the Guardian online, but there are for other African-American newspapers in the north-east.

Anyway, just my two cents.
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Logar
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Re: Boston Region 1922 - Boarding room / Apartment prices

Post by Logar » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:54 pm

KeeperMurph wrote:Another brilliant post Logar. I did want to mention one tidbit if I may. You make mention that there was no blatant racist remarks in the newspaper aside from the odd call for attractive females. The main reason for this was that most African-Americans did not expect to find jobs or housing in the "White" paper. Boston had the Boston Guardian, an African-American newspaper that started publication in 1901. If you read those papers, you tend to get quite a different feel for the rampant racism of the time, even in fairly liberal places like the North-East.

As far as I can find there are no scans of the Guardian online, but there are for other African-American newspapers in the north-east.

Anyway, just my two cents.

Awesome info Murph, thank you! I had no idea about the Guardian. I'm dying to see this paper now. It answers a question I was wondering about. I was looking at a book on the formation of Chinatown in Boston and it brought up that same point. I was pretty sure Chinese workers weren't scouring the Boston Globe for jobs, not to mention African Americans, Irish, etc. or any other minority. An obvious question comes up: how did they network for jobs? I had no idea so I had to chalk it up to social connections / word of mouth. But that didn't sit too well for me. Its obvious though now that you provided an answer (funny how that works). Separate newspaper ... separate but parallel networks.

As for the racism, I don't think anyone should misread the omission of racist remarks as constituting any kind of progressive movement. Face it, it's not. I think I'm of the same mind as Murph. Just because it's not openly displayed in a paper is no indication of its abatement. I just wasn't looking in the right place. My immediate reaction though as I was skimming them was of legality. I was wondering if there was a law forbidding it. I do know that contrary to what people might think, Asian and African American workers have a historical record for filing lawsuits for equal rights far previous to the 20s, though I think they were few and far between. (Their everyday application I believe is something far different.) But I was wondering if a newspaper could be flat out sued for listing, "no black / coloreds / Irish / Chinese / whatever" in an ad. I was thinking of the baseball "gentleman's agreement", where no African American players were allowed on teams by tacit agreement among the owners. It was certainly standard practice for the day. So it made me wonder, legal-wise what was going on? I should admit, I'm ignorant of a lot of the 1920s. Maybe someone else can say. Otherwise, I figured that no racist remarks were a plain indicator / understanding of the time: only whites need apply.

But honestly, the other thing I was thinking of was simply handouts. That a keeper making a handout might just write an ad with no embellishment for more close parallel language. I might have done differently had I not seen examples.

BTW, The access I have for old papers is only through a Boston library card. It's a shame but here is the actual link anyway, in case anyone can use it. Maybe people can find access through their own library systems or something similar:
http://ezproxy.bpl.org/login?url=http:/ ... chive.com/
It's awesome fun looking through the papers. In particular, I happen to like the art deco style ads for clothing and the like.

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