1. The First Auto Mile
Alvan Fuller opened a car dealership on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston early in the twentieth century. Over the next two decades 117 dealerships, garages, and other auto-related businesses had opened on that stretch of road. It was the first so-called “Auto Mile” in the country. A combination of The Great Depression, people moving out to the suburbs, and eventually the expansion of Boston University led to its demise. Today, with the exception of a few Herb Chambers dealerships, the Allston Auto Mile is all but dead.
2. The Oldest Baseball Team
Believe it or not, the Atlanta Braves can lay claim to the oldest continuously playing team in all of American professional sports. Once upon a time, the Braves called Allston their home. The team, which originally went by the name “Boston Red Stockings,” played at what is now Boston University’s Nickerson Field. Note: The now-Boston Red Sox scooped the name after the now-Braves switched their nickname to the Boston Beaneaters.
3. The Allston Patriots
Long after the Braves were gone, the Boston Patriots set up shop on the same field in 1960. The team only played there for two years before bouncing to Fenway Park, Alumni Stadium, and then back to Allston – at Harvard Stadium – before finally moving to Foxboro. Among the names on the original roster was Gino Cappelletti, who went on to become the voice of the Patriots for 33 years before retiring in 2012.
4. The Mayor of Allston
Harold Madison, Jr. was a homeless man who became a neighborhood icon. Mr. Butch, as he was nicknamed, was a Berklee grad and a talented musician. He spent his days rocking out with a guitar, originally around Kenmore Square until police essentially kicked him out, and later on the streets of Allston. Mr. Butch and his happy demeanor were so popular, it’s no surprised he earned the nickname “The Mayor of Allston.” Need further proof of his iconic status? Check out this lengthy 2007 Boston Globe article that followed his death.
5. Joplin’s Last Concert
Allston Rock City, as it was fondly known, was the center of Boston’s rock music scene in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Major acts performed here on a regular basis. Harpers Ferry and Paradise Rock Club attracted groups from all over the world that would go on to become major acts. The likes of Aerosmith, Boston, and other big names got their starts in Allston. There are thousands of tales from that time period, including this one: Janis Joplin was booked as part of a summer concert series in 1970 at Harvard Stadium, but someone stole her band’s equipment before the show. Still she managed to borrow enough equipment to play the show with her band. It was her last concert. She died two months later.
For more interesting historical info about Brighton-Allston, check out the Brighton-Allston Historical Society.