Before I came to Boston I did some research (of course), that’s when I read about the Boston – Leather District. As a leather lover, I thought this is the place to be for me, although soon I discovered the rest of the story. Curious? Let’s have a trip down Boston leather district memory lane:
1830-1920 – from nothing to something!
With the growing city of Boston, more land was needed. In during the 1830s land-making expansions filled in the former South Cove, which would become later known as the Leather district. At first, it was a residential area but with the Great Boston fire in 1872, it was needed for commercial purposes. Due to the fire, many buildings were destroyed in the city’s business district and had to find a new place. The leather industry and the wholesales found a new place in the red brick buildings, which were constructed in this district between the 1880s-1920s. The buildings have large windows on the ground floor, perfect for their displays and showrooms. While the upper floors were used for offices, storage, and slow-moving merchandise. Due to a large number of leather shops, it got the name Bostons Leather district.
Nine-blocks of brick warehouses
It’s actually a very small neighborhood and counts nine distinct blocks full of nineteenth-century brick warehouse structures. It is right between China town and south station so even nowadays very accessible. On the internet was written that since 1980, some of the buildings are renovated into large loft-like homes and became a mixed district. I thought to myself, let’s check it out once I’m there. Maybe there are some hidden gems left, untouched and full of wonderful leather products.
The leather district nowadays
While wandering through China town, with foreign fragrances and amazing looking food, I left China town behind me once I crossed the Paifang gate. Just one more road to cross and I would enter the leather district. Well, it does carry the name Leather District, but at the moment. I couldn’t find a single leather shop. I certainly did love the buildings, so I guess there will be amazing lofts, with high ceilings and cast iron columns in it. But I walked along most of them, to hunt for a single sign that it once was a buzzy street with the smell of tanneries and leather products.
And at the very last street, did cross the other blocks already, I found this little piece of history. Two pieces actually, one sign on the wall as you could see below. But nowadays it isn’t a leather shop but a gym…
And the second one, was a shop, David King & Co.! One leather shop which is still in business as I believe. Sadly, at the time I was there, it was closed since it was weekend. But maybe when I’ve got some time off, I should definitely go back and see what’s left of such a great piece of history.
So overall it was impressive to walk in the streets which used to be full of leather businessmen and women, making leather products while recovering from the great Boston fire. But at the same time, it was kind of sad, that such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship now has to be represented by just one shop. Where did everyone go and why? That’s probably something I will never know…