It’s 100 steps to get to the top

Recently, Earl Taylor of the Dorchester Historical Society published the vintage photo above showing a 100-step staircase off Hancock Street and asked recipients for more information about the unusual structure. A Paul Valleli responded:

“I lived on Jerome St. from 1941 to 1971 and went to the Mather School, a two-mile walk. The stairway had been converted to concrete steps as long as I can recall. Yes, 100 steps. We (school buddies) all counted them. It ran from Hancock, at Kane Sq. next to the DPW storage facility up to Downer Avenue. When we were bored with the Hancock Street trek, we would go up to Downer Ave. by the stairway, continue to Sawyer Ave., past St. Margaret’s Hospital, where many of my cousins and sister were born, and then down to Jerome St.”

Taylor later reported that in April 1936 the Boston Herald ran a drawing of the staircase by the artist Jack Frost with a caption that read:

“The Longest Wooden Stairway in Boston: The fatigue-inspiring stairway shown in the sketch connects Hancock Street and Downer Avenue in Dorchester on Jones Hill.  There are more than a hundred steps and thirteen landings. The granite wall shown in the foreground was built by the PWA.  The three-family houses are common to the hill.  The building part way up the steps is a dance hall, well known in Dorchester. After the city had been scoured pretty thoroughly, these Jones Hill steps were the longest wooden ones found—and wooden steps are not as abundant today as they once were.”

The photo at right shows the view from Hancock Street in August 2012.