From the Archives | Photo Gallery
The Prudential building
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Part of a revitalization drive for Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the Prudential building replaced the Mechanics Hall and its popular 8,000-person auditorium on Huntington Avenue as well as much of the Boston and Albany railroad yard. A reviled eyesore for some, others appreciate that the building houses the popular Top of the Hub restaurant and maintains its public observation deck. The Hancock Tower closed its observation deck after 9/11. Builders broke ground in July 1962, and opened the doors to the 52-story tower with a half-million square feet of office space in 1965. Upon completion, it was the tallest building in the world outside of New York. Today it isn’t even among the 50 tallest buildings in the country. -
Lane Turner and Lisa Tuite
Charles B. Carey/Globe Staff
March 25, 1957: The tracks removed from the Boston & Albany's Back Bay yards marked the first tangible step in the construction of the multimillion-dollar Prudential Center.
June 12, 1959: Bulldozer operator Don Eisnor stopped what he was doing to watch the recent hatched ducklings take a stroll with their mother. Workmen at the Prudential site discovered the expectant mother a few weeks earlier and made sure she would not be disturbed while she was hatching. The Animal Rescue League decided it would be safer for the family to move to a less hazardous home and the family was relocated to the Fenway's Muddy River area.
Ollie Noonan/Globe Staff
Feb. 29, 1960: Pile and caisson drivers conferred in this photo. In the 26,000-square-foot area upon which the 52-story Prudential Tower was built, a total of 144 30-inch diameter steel caissons were driven down to bedrock about 140 feet below street grade. Once firmly on the bedrock, a core of rock 12 to 25 feet deep was drilled out from beneath each caisson. Then a heavy steel H beam was inserted before the caissons were filled with a concrete mix designed to withstand pressures in excess of 4,000 pounds per square inch.
John M. Hurley/ Globe photo
Aug. 25, 1960: Water and the handling of it was a prime concern for the contractors on the Prudential Tower site. Pumps ran 24 hours a day and seven days a week to pump water out of the excavation. The pumps took the water away at the rate of half a million gallons day. After the Massachusetts Legislature deferred action on a tax obligation for the Prudential and construction was halted, officials ordered flooding of the completed foundation work to save the cost of pumping until construction resumed. The water level was allowed to increase until it hit a depth of 25 feet. A 7-foot-high chain link fence was erected around the 9 1/2 acres under water in order to protect the public against any hazard presented by the manmade lake.
Prudential Insurance Co.
Feb. 1, 1963: Daring steel workers hoisted cable from a symbolic white beam which they riveted into position to mark the final stage of the traditional "topping out" of the 52-story Prudential Tower in the Back Bay. The final beam, flying the American flag, weighed seven tons.
Boston Globe Archive
May 7, 1963: These steel workers paid strict attention to their task of putting finishing touches on the Prudential Tower. The workmen were perched more than an eighth of a mile in the air as they worked a beam into position. A skyview restaurant was included in the plans for the top of the Back Bay building.
Joseph Runci/Globe Staff photo
Undated photo: The male audience enjoyed watching the construction activity around the building of the Prudential Tower on their lunch break.
Ed Fitzgerald/ Globe Staff
Sept. 30, 1969: The 28-story Prudential office building under construction was viewed from the 28th floor of the Pru Tower. The Massachusetts Turnpike and the Back Bay business area were at left.