As we prepare for the first big snow of the season here in Boston, I thought it might be useful to post the poem for deciphering the weather beacon on top of the first John Hancock Building, which was finished in 1947.
Steady blue, clear view;
Flashing blue, clouds due;
Steady red, rain ahead;
Flashing red, snow ahead.
The beacon will also flash red if the Red Sox game is cancelled, presumably not because of snow.
The first John Hancock building is worthy of notice because it represents one of the only major buildings constructed in Boston between the completion of the Custom House Tower in the 1910s and the beginnings of urban renewal in the 1950s. Thomas O'Connor's Building a New Boston provides an excellent overview of how moribund Boston had become during that time period, as city government relied on the heavy tax burden placed on commercial real estate for much of the city's revenue. This allowed Boston city government, and James Michael Curley especially, to embark upon ambitious plans for public amenities in the neighborhoods while at the same time placing a stranglehold on new construction within downtown.