Forget Paul Revere. This summer, treat yourself to a tour of Boston's worst in political corruption.
As summer officially kicks off this weekend, thousands upon thousands of people will be descending on our fair metropolis to get a glimpse of America's most history-drenched city. Surely, many tourists will want to see where Paul Revere took his midnight ride and where John Adams defended British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre . . . just wake us up when it's over. For those who've had enough of musty old Revolution-era figures, however, we'd like to offer you a weird and wonderful tour of the city's more recent political landmarks. Boston has a long and proud history of massive political corruption — so take this tour with pride!
Former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley
In 1904, this Boston political giant was convicted for taking a civil-service postal exam for a constituent. The incident hardly slowed down his career: not only did Curley win his election for Boston city alderman while residing in the Charles Street Jail (now the Liberty Hotel), but he went on to become a quintuple threat, also winning posts as state rep, US congressman, mayor of Boston, and governor of Massachusetts. In 1943, while a congressman, he was indicted for influence peddling. In 1945, while mayor of Boston, he received a second indictment for mail fraud; he was forced to leave office in 1947 when he was sent to federal prison on the latter charge.
Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles Street, West End
The Boston Common Garage
Truly the mother of all Boston scandals, this larceny-and-conspiracy case sprang from the kickback-filled late-1950s and early-1960s Boston Common parking-garage project. The subsequent investigation resulted in the conviction of many, including a special justice of Ipswich District Court (Richard K. Gordon) and the chairman of the Massachusetts Parking Authority (George Lewis Brady, a former journalist, who absconded with $784,000 and was a fugitive for several years until he was captured in Atlantic City in 1969).
Underneath Boston Common
FBI Agent John Connolly
Everyone can use a trip to the beach now and again. From 1975 to 1995, Connolly would take constitutionals to Wollaston Beach in Quincy, where he would meet Boston's most notorious mobster, Winter Hill Gang leader Whitey Bulger, to discuss all sorts of fun stuff — like who got whacked, who should be whacked, and how much all of this was going to cost Whitey. When arrests finally came down, Whitey had fled town (and is still yet to be found), while Connolly has embarked on a new chapter, wearing an orange jumpsuit.
Wollaston Beach, Quincy Shore Drive, Quincy
Former Boston Mayor Kevin White
Led by Massachusetts's then–US Attorney William Weld, the feds spent years trying to nail Kevin White for corruption. The investigation grew so imposing that White eventually dropped his run for a then-record fifth term in City Hall. But while Weld ended up indicting more than half a dozen aides, the only thing that hung on White was a rumor that he had pilfered the desk of another legendary Boston mayor, James Michael Curley (see above). Rumored to be in one of White's homes, but never found, the whereabouts of the desk remain a mystery to this day.
158 Mount Vernon Street, Beacon Hill
: Lifestyle Features
, Dianne Wilkerson, Tom Finneran, Tom Finneran, More