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What's Happening

The Great Boston Fire: A Lecture by Author Stephanie Schorow at the Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m. 

 

As a complement to the latest exhibition "Fire and Water: An Exploration of the Great Fire of Boston," Author Stephanie Schorow will present an illustrated lecture on the fire that probes the forces that produced it and the people who contained it. This program will take place live at the museum and is free of charge. Doors open at 6:00pm. Masks are currently required for all museum visitors over 2 years of age regardless of vaccination status. Reserve your free ticket in advance to secure your place. If seats are still available, Walk-ins will be welcome on the day of the program.

 

Schorow's latest book "The Great Boston Fire: The Inferno that Nearly Incinerated the City" debuts November 2021:

"For two days in November, 1872, a massive fire swept through Boston, leaving the downtown in ruins and the population traumatized. Coming barely a year after the infamous Chicago fire, Boston's inferno turned out to be one of the most expensive fires per acre in US history. Yet today few are aware of how close Boston came to destruction. Boston author Stephanie Schorow masterfully recounts the fire's history from the foolish decisions that precipitated it to the heroics of firefighters who fought it. Lavishly illustrated with period artwork and photographs and published just before the fire's 150th anniversary, The Great Boston Fire captures the drama of a life-and-death battle in the heart of the city."

 

Stephanie Schorow is a journalist, writing instructor, and the author or co-author of seven books on Boston history, including The Great Boston Fire: The Inferno that Nearly Incinerated the City; Inside the Combat Zone: The Stripped Down Story of Boston's Most Notorious Neighborhood; The Cocoanut Grove Fire; Boston on Fire: A History of Fires and Firefighting in Boston; East of Boston: Notes from the Harbor Island; and The Crime of the Century: How the Brink's Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston. She currently coordinates a Citizen Journalism Program for Malden's Urban Media Arts, teaches professional writing and editing at Lasell University in Newton, Mass., and serves as a communication writer for Ariadne Labs in Boston. She has worked as an editor and reporter for the Boston Herald, the Associated Press, and newspapers in Connecticut, Idaho and Utah.

 

Register here

 

Also see https://waterworksmuseum.org

 

 

When COVID-19 shut down live events, I prepared and presented a number of events by Zoom, including multimedia talks on the Combat Zone and the Cocoanut Grove. Please contact me if you wish to arrange a Zoom event. 

The  Boston Erotic Literary Festival, Held on Oct 17, 2020. 

 

I spoke about the Combat Zone at  Boston's first erotic literary festival, featuring: racy readings, performances, talks, lectures, and an open mic. The free one-and-a-half hour festival, staged live via Zoom and Facebook for free, paid tribute to the art of writing about sex with flare, verve, and good grammar. It probed Boston's notorious past where everything supposedly banned in Boston was on full display. The agenda included readings, performances, history lectures, a 10-minute session on how to write a literary sex scene, and an open mic.

The organizers didn't guarantee everything will be in good taste but they did  promise an event that will be lively, funny, and educational.

 

 

Here's a link to video of the event. I am on at about the 30.08 mark. 

 

 

 

If you are interested in having me speak to your organization, school or community group about Boston's Combat Zone, Boston's drinking history, the Boston Harbor Islands, Boston fire history, the infamous Brink's robbery or a related topic, please email me at sschorow (at) comcast.net

 

PLEASE NOTE: I CAN ALSO DO REMOTE PRESENTATIONS VIA ZOOM OR OTHER ONLINE PLATFORMS 

Here's what I talk about:

Inside the Combat Zone: The Stripped Down Story of Boston’s most notorious neighborhood
Boston has always been known for its stiff character. So how did this great New England city become home to one of the largest and most notorious adult entertainment districts in the nation? In this talk based on two years of research, veteran reporter Stephanie Schorow teases out the issues that created this controversial neighborhood, giving voice to the players who sought to tame or profit from the sleaze snaking its way through Boston. At turns comic and tragic, Schorow introduces us to the politicians, exotic dancers, and wise guys, and residents brought together by the adult entertainment district—a five-acre neighborhood the city engineered to contain the very porno plague it wanted to eliminate. Meet the nun-turned-attorney who advocated for the First Amendment rights of adult bookstores, a dancer called “the thinking man’s stripper,” and Boston’s unofficial city censor. For these people and thousands of others, the Combat Zone is more than a memory—it was a life-altering adventure.

Drinking Boston: A historical pub crawl through the taverns, speakeasies and nightclubs of Boston.
From the drama of the "Blue Blazer" to the mystery of the "Ward 8," Stephanie serves up a cocktail of pop culture, history and anecdotes. Couple this with dinner and drinks and you'll have event that will have people talking. The talk covers Boston's drinking history, beginning in the Colonial period and continuing through Prohibition and into Boston's craft cocktail scene.

The Tragedy of the Cocoanut Grove Fire
This 1942 nightclub fire killed nearly 500 people and burned through the heart of Boston. Stephanie recounts the events that led to the fire, its investigation and its enduring mysteries. New information continues to come forward and Stephanie brings the latest to life. She also leaves time for people to share their stories of the Grove, making for a moving, interactive event.

The Boston Mob Guide: Hit Men, Hoodlums and Hideouts
With partner-in-crime Beverly Ford, Stephanie takes a walk on Boston's wild side with the bad boys of the Hub. The gals trace the history of organized crime in Boston from its roots in the 1910s and 1920s in Irish and Jewish neighborhoods to Whitey Bulger and his convictions. With photos, films and a “mobster flow sheet,” they talk about characters such as Frank “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, Joseph “The Animal” Barbozo, and the Angiulo family. With compassion for victims as well as intriguing details on the mobsters, Bev and Stephanie paint an indelible portrait of murder and mayhem in the Hub.

Fire! Boston Burning
Stephanie talks about fire history and how it shaped Boston, taking a walk down Boston’s “Fire Trail.” This includes the tale of the burning of the Urusline convent in Charlestown in the 1830s, the Broad Street Riots. and the invention of the first fire alarm system. We look at the conflagration that devastated Boston like a nuclear bomb: The 1872 Great Boston Fire Boston. And we examine the Cocoanut Grove fire of 1942. We hear about the history of the inferno and recent developments, including an upcoming documentary and an effort to better memorialize the site.

The Crime of the Century: The Brink's Job
In January of 1950, a band of misfit thieves broke into the Brink's armored car headquarters in Boston's North End and pulled off the largest robbery in U.S. history. The Crime of the Century went unsolved for six years and police only cracked the case when one of the robbers turned stool pigeon. Much of the money was never recovered. Stephanie uses historical images, FBI evidence, movie clips and humor to bring the story of the Brink's heist to life.

Girls Night Out -- 1891 Style
In July of 1891, four intrepid woman spent 10 days sojourning on Great Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. One kept a diary which provides a fascinating look into the lives of women in the 1890s as well as the history -- flora, fauna and bovine -- of the Harbor Islands. Stephanie plays detective, tracking elusive details from the illustrated diary and invites the audiences to be sleuths along with her.

To see videos of various presentations, go to the Works section of this Web site and click on one of the books listed. To schedule a lecture, please email me at sschorow (at) comcast (dot) net

Speaking in Quincy on the Combat Zone 

I recently spoke at the Thomas Crane Public  Library in Quincy on my Combat Zone book 

 

Here's a preview.

 

"While some may question spending two years researching Boston's X-rated neighborhood, the Combat Zone is undeniably a part of the city's history. Its emergence as a haven for adult entertainment is inextricably tied to the destruction of Scollay Square. My research uncovered a host of colorful characters, from the stripper who derailed a potential presidential candidate to a former nun-turned-lawyer who defended porn merchants. So many Bostonians have memories of the Combat Zone – if they are willing to admit it." -- Stephanie Schorow