Through Waters Deep – Tour of Boston, Part 5
The city of Boston is fascinating—chockfull of history and color. While best known for its key role in the American Revolution, the city also played a role in World War II, with busy shipyards and naval bases—and more! The city’s reputation for revolutionary foment seemed a great backdrop for Through Waters Deep, set in the tumult of 1941, as isolationists and interventionists argued the correct course for the nation’s future, and as rumors of sabotage and espionage ran rampant.
I’ve been blessed to visit Boston a number of times. In July 2014, I made a research trip and took lots of pictures to help me visualize the story. We’ve followed the Freedom Trail, established in the 1950s to connect Boston’s multiple historical sites. Earlier we explored:
Boston Common and the Public Garden
Paul Revere House and Old North Church
Charlestown and the USS Constitution
Old State House, Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market
Today we visit the Charlestown Navy Yard, originally known as the Boston Navy Yard. Founded in 1800, the Navy Yard became a major site for construction and repair of US naval warships. The Yard closed in 1973, but was incorporated into the Boston National Historical Park in 1974, and is now a popular tourist site.
Let’s follow the path of my fictional heroine in Through Waters Deep, Mary Stirling, as she goes to work. Entering the gate at the intersection of Chelsea and Tremont, we first pass the Ropewalk, built in 1837. Workers in this extremely long narrow building could fashion rope up to 1200-ft long. The ropewalk produced all manila line for the United States Navy until 1955. Just past the ropewalk stands the octagonal Muster House, built in the 1850s.
Heading to the northeast along Second Avenue, we enter a large cluster of buildings used for everything from offices to workshops to storage to forges. No longer part of the Navy Yard, these buildings are being converted to civilian use. Mary works in a fictional office in Building 39.
Ships at the Boston Navy Yard were constructed in two different methods. Ships could be constructed on shipways, with above-ground scaffolding, and launched “down the ways” into Boston Harbor. Ships could also be constructed in dry docks, large basins with a caisson at the end to keep the seawater out. To launch the ship, water was pumped through the caisson into the dry dock to float the ship. Then the caisson was removed, and the ship sailed out. Alternately, a ship could pull in to a flooded dry dock for repairs. The caisson was positioned, and water was pumped out. This was done on 17 May 2015 at the Charlestown Navy Yard for the restoration of USS Constitution. You can see a fun time-lapse video of the process here. Dry Dock 1 was constructed in 1833, and Dry Dock 2 in 1905. More were added later.
The Charlestown Navy Yard was responsible for the construction and repair of thousands of ships. From 1939-45, six thousand ships were constructed, repaired, or outfitted. At the start of World War II, women worked at the Navy Yard only as telephone operators or in clerical positions (like Mary). As the war progressed, women were hired for more types of jobs. At the peak in 1943, the Boston Navy Yard employed 50,000 people, 20 percent of whom were women.
Today the Charlestown Navy Yard is an essential stop for the Boston tourist. The USS Constitution, flagship of the US Navy, has called Boston her home port since 1897 (see my post here), and the World War II era destroyer USS Cassin Young has been docked there since 1978 (see my post here). Both the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center and the USS Constitution Museum are well worth a visit, especially with children. For fun, take the ferry from downtown Boston to the Navy Yard!
Boston National Historical Park, Charlestown Navy Yard: http://www.nps.gov/bost/learn/historyculture/cny.htm
Bither, Barbara A., Boston National Historical Park. Images of America: Charlestown Navy Yard. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 1999.
Boston National Historical Park. Charlestown Navy Yard. Washington, DC: Division of Publications, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2010.
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I love vintage and I love this book…can’t think of a cooler giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity and for sharing Mary and Jim’s story with us.
I LOVE being able to see the shipyard having read the book! So cool.
And that apron is darling!!
Thank you for this give-away!
Thanks, Raechel! Seeing the sites certainly helped me write the book!
Thank you for so much information and photos! I pray one day our family can go see some of these places you write about! Until then, we will travel through you! 🙂
Thanks, Lisa! I hope you can go too!
I love these images especially the one looking down second Ave toward the Navy yard. Thank you for sharing about your aetting. It helps bring the book more to life for me.
Thank you, Kelly! It’s kind of pretty for an industrial site 🙂
The pictures were amazing! Thank you for going to all the trouble to share them with us!
Thanks, Kathy! They were sitting on my computer gathering e-dust 🙂
I would love to win thus book!!! I have read 2 of your books so far. Loved seeing all these pictures!
Just to clarify…this giveaway is for the apron, not the book 🙂 But I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures.
i am going to have to go back and re-read the book now that I have seen pictures of the places. it’s so neat to see the actual places that were included in the book! I really appreciate you attention to historical details. And I would love the apron 🙂
Thanks! Seeing the places really helped me write the story.
It was so cool to see the shipyard. Love it! Also, I adore the apron. Thanks for giving it away!
Nice apron. Thanks for such wonderful pics.
Love all the history! Looking forward to reading this book!
Thank you, Rebecca!
I love all the pictures in this post. So fun to see!! And the apron is darling. 🙂
Looking forward to reading your new book. Great tour of Boston. I like the apron too.
Thanks for the apron giveaway!! What fun!
Cute apron! Love all the pictures.
Love the apron!!!! I would hate to usse it and get it soiled!!! Thanx for the giveaway!!!
It’s machine-washable 🙂 All cotton!
Loving the tour. Hoping my dil puts some of the sites on our own tour in a few weeks!
So many good things to see in Boston! I didn’t even show the Lexington & Concord area…or Plymouth…or – well, you can spend a weeks in the area and never get bored.
Your pics and tour through Boston have been fabulous! & I absolutely love the apron!!!
Lovely pictures! I will be keeping them in mind while reading the book! Thanks for sharing! The apron is awesome!
I haven’t read this book yet but I can’t wait!
Love this apron! And Love Through Waters Deep! Just finished chapter 12! Too bad I have adult responsibilities which causes me to put the book down 🙁
Ooh. Bad place to have to stop 😉 But being an adult takes precedence.
Sarah, thank you for sharing these AMAZING pictures! My grandfather was NAVY so this tour is extra special for me. BTW, I loved your blue dress- so cute. I am so excited about the Waves of Freedom series. Thank you for the giveaway. 🙂
[…] lovely daughter! To enter, leave a comment below (US & Canada only please), on last week’s Tour of Boston, Part 5 article, or on Wednesday’s Destroyer Tour post. You can earn a maximum of three entries by leaving a […]
Such great photos! We really want to get to visit Boston someday soon. So much history! Thanks for the giveaway. I just love the apron! 🙂
Thanks, Lisa! It’s a great city to visit.
great photos Sarah and i would love to win the apron!!
Thanks for the great pictures and giveaway! The apron is super adorable. Looking forward to Through Waters Deep and the rest of the series.
Now we have another place in Boston to visit the next time my husband runs the Boston Marathon.
So many great things to see in Boston!
I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the picture you have taken. It will definitely help me to picture things while reading Through Waters Deep.
The vintage apron is wonderful. Thank you for the chance to win it.
I haven’t read the book but would love to win the apron for my wife.
I couldn’t imagine building a ship! But I bet each person who helped to build one had a great sense of pride seeing it in the water for the first time!
From what I’ve read, they certainly did. And rightly so!
So hard to believe there is so much history in one city! This looks like a trip of a lifetime!
[…] lovely daughter! To enter, leave a comment below (US & Canada only please), on last week’s Tour of Boston, Part 5 article, or on Monday’s Destroyer Tour post. You can earn a maximum of three entries by leaving a comment […]
I live on the West Coast, but spent 5 years in Montreal, Quebec for my husband’s job. After reading this article and viewing your pictures, I want to kick myself for not making it to Boston. We had other East Coast adventures, but missed Boston. 🙁 Thank you for the walk through.